Disco mix  

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"So "disco version" or "disco mix" means primarily that the record is longer than the version released for radio play, though it may also mean that the cut is specifically mixed for a "hotter," brighter sound. Disco DJs are much more concerned with the technical quality of the records they play than their radio counterparts, rejecting otherwise danceable singles because of the deadness of their mix or their loss of distinction at high volumes. This passion for quality has had its effect: Both Atlantic and Scepter have put selected single cuts on 12-inch discs at 33 1/3 for best reproduction at top volume." -- Discotheque Rock '72: Paaaaarty!, Vince Aletti in Rolling Stone Magazine, August 28, 1975

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A disco mix is a method of producing a recording of a song which was used in the 1970s for disco music, a funk/soul-influenced, dance-oriented pop music style. A disco mix uses orchestral build-ups to a full rich sound and then contrasts this full sound with "breaks" in which only percussion plays. Disco mixes differed from mixing and production styles for many other styles of music from the 1970s in that disco music was principally designed for dancing in discotheques, rather than for passive listening.


The disco mix was developed by recording engineers in the 1970s, which was in part influenced by the mixing done in nightclubs by DJs. DJs in discotheques would use their simple mixing boards to add interest to dance songs, by adding "breaks" in the middle of loud songs by using the equalizers on their mixing boards. For example, a DJ might create a break in a song by suddenly muting all of the frequencies except the bass frequencies, which means that a full-sounding song would suddenly become just a thudding, low rumble. The sudden change in the sound would add novelty for the dancers, and make them anticipate the return of the full sound of the song.

The engineers took the recording of the song that was broken down into its constituent parts (verses, bridges, and refrains), and then created a mix of the song. The goal of creating these mixes was to excite listeners and dancers by employing various iterations of the song's verses, bridges, and refrains through breaks and orchestral builds.

A typical disco mix began with introduction of the melody, which was then enhanced through a build (often done with an arrangement for string orchestra) which would help to lure the listeners onto the dance-floor. Then the song would begin the verses, bridges, and refrains. Once the song had build to a high level, called a "wall of sound", by using orchestral arrangements and added instruments, the song would break, and most of the instruments would be mixed out, except for the drums and percussion.

This sudden change would give the listeners and dancers a respite give them a sense excited anticipation of the reprise of the melody and the full accompaniment that was soon to come. Another orchestral build would follow, which served to multiply the psychological excitement through the conclusion of the song, until its end. Disco-mixing a song was used by recording engineers, mixing engineers, and producers to enhance the experience of disco dancing and give dancers a natural high.

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