4 Ingredients For Producing Great Soulful House Music

House music has always been about the crowd and for the crowd. House music producers, since the very first embryonic sounds spilled out of the Warehouse club in Chicago, have done their best to build a solid, organic connection with dancers and listeners. As times and trends have changed, so have the tunes, but one genre of house that has remained fairly prominent is soulful house. This style combines elements from vocal, funky and disco house, but also adds some distinguishing characteristics of its own. Like funky house, soulful house music has ties to the early masters of R&B, but instead of following the funkier sounds that emerged in the 1970’s, soulful house went in a more emotional direction. Let’s examine some of the ingredients that can help define a soulful house track.

1. A powerful, resonant vocal. In soulful house music, the vocal is often the key building block around which the rest of the track is arranged. A singer’s performance in this genre is often more textured and subtle than in vocal house, where power usually rules the day. This calls for production that can reveal the texture of a singer’s voice, highlighting the many payers of a performance. The goal is to capture the same aesthetic as is found in down-tempo, popular soul music and combine it with a house groove.

2. Mellower disco samples. While disco house as a genre is usually open to a wide variety of different disco sounds, soulful house usually restricts itself to mellower grooves, preferring to let the vocal take center stage and have the bassline and strings act as supporting players rather than in-your-face leads. Muted guitars and electric pianos are much more common than blaring horns and big drums.

3. Deeper lyrics. Soulful house music tends to take a more in-depth look at the stories that are told through its lyrics. These tales are usually quite emotional or personal, giving listeners the feeling that they are hearing the singer’s deepest confessions. Some soulful house, particularly if it samples from or is modeled after the 1960’s might even contain a social message beyond the more common peace and unity feel of standard house. Soulful house often leaves listeners feeling as though they have replenished their inner being.

4. A chill vibe. Out of all the house genres, soulful house might come closest to resembling pop music, thanks to its combination of non-aggressive sounds and more complete lyrical content. An overriding ‘chill’ feeling permeates most examples of this genre of house, which has lead to its great popularity in lounges and other relaxed bar environments.