Breaking down the music – What is this four to the floor Sound?

This takes me back to a time when Trybe and I would head to down to the  BW shop for a young hip hop throw down for one of the clothing labels, Lucky Charm. Orbit fridays was the name it went by. Trybe would occasionally suggest something by saying, ” monna nna ke batla go itaya four to the floor” Trybe being a man of the sound I gladly obliged, and the beats rolled. This led to a conversation a couple of months later as we spoke of four to the floor and its origins in classical jazz music, the movement was born.

Trybe on the decks, orbit fridays June 2011 @ the BW shop


Four to the Floor

Its pretty obvious most of us Africans cant help but move to the beat of a drum. The drum creates groove, and creates beat and the count of the music,  the speed of the song is all dictated by the beat of the drum. Which is why we had the explosion of ancestral music over the past year and a half. Music has got a lot more elements than just a beat, a kick, a hat and some melody. There has to be rhythm to it and a lot of good quality house music has this rhythm and its mostly based on the four on the floor jazz beat. If you are interested in learning a bit more about it, you  can watch the video below. Its from  expert village and it just breaks down to a very basic level on the raw drum beat:

The basic drum beat has influenced the style of a lot of bands the world over. It is amazing how a single beat can become so universal. But the phrase four to the floor doesnt just end in music. Its an old saying that is derived from hunting animals as the were about to leap for their prey -the would have all four paws to the floor, four to the floor – always ready.

Before we started this movement I had heard a track called four to the floor by a group called Starsailor. It was a very good song and it beautifully brings the two ideas together both in the music and in the lyrics. The video is below :

A lot of deep and soulful house heads know about Totured Soul. One of the most epic house music bands to hit the scene in my opinion. They are a group of three musicians that came together to make totured soul. On reading about them on the website, I qoute an excerpt that says:

“Born of the simple yet adventurous belief that modern dance music can be performed completely live, Brooklyn’s Tortured Soul packs dance floors with their unique live performances, while their recorded oeuvre pushes the genre boundaries of soul, dance, and pop.”

I recall a video Trybe once sent to me of totured soul playing live, I had never seen it before, and it was amazing to watch live house music being played, through a combination of funky drum kick, melodic synths, and some meaningful vocals. That is the use of the four on the floor beat in modern house music and this is the quality of music that gets you grooving.

The influences of four on  the floor dont just end with soulful house, deep house producers Lovebirds also use elements of the four to the floor sound in their production. I shall close off with a track produced by the lovebirds using this four to the floor sound, and it is one hell of a track:

yours in sound, kMoe


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