Acid House is a subgenre of music; a branch of the House music genre. It originated in Chicago in the 1980’s, devised by DJ’s. Later, it went on to achieve mainstream popularity in both Britain and in other parts of Europe. Acid House was a common feature in the rave scene at the time, and brought the genre of House music to audiences around the globe. As a direct result, other popular styles of music began to take inspiration from House music, such as Trip-Hop, Techno and Trance music.
Instruments used in Acid House are not standard instruments as such; it is possible to create such music with just a DAW (digital audio workspace) with today’s technology. Drum machines we used for the beat, along with samples, and sometimes keys would be used. The key feature of Acid House music however, was the signature ‘squelching’ sound, attributed to the Roland TB-303 synthesizer. The Roland TB-303 not only served as a synthesizer, but also as a sequencer. It created its recognisable sound by continuously modulating both resonance and frequency. This provided a sense of ‘movement’ for the bass of the song, thus making it more interesting and almost melodic.
Acid House was renowned for its minimalistic style. It almost always centred around a standard 4/4 beat pattern, using the Roland TB-303 as the primary ‘instrument.’ Sometimes synthetically created string sounds and also horn sections would be used for ‘stabs’ for example, however, this was infrequent and often muted; kept very much away from the forefront of the music. Due to its sparse nature, some critics have criticized the music for lack of skill needed, something they further endorse with the lack of instruments used, and the electronic nature of the music. Unlike other styles of electronic music, Acid House does not really rely on melody or even chord progressions, which does make it perhaps less pleasing to the mainstream masses, and may not find so much favour with those who prefer music that follows certain compositional rules, such as having melodies, harmonies and chords. Another reason some disliked it, was the association with psychedelic drugs. The Media was among many to infer a link between to two, simply because of the term Acid. However, as Acid house music was played at raves, and at raves people would often take drugs as they thought it would enhance their experience, it is possible there is a link, even if not intended by the creators.
Overall, I don’t think Acid House music deserves so much criticism; it is quite a skill to be able to make music that people want to listen to, with so little resources and standard compositional techniques. Equally, the genre has a very distinctive sound due to the innovation of the Roland TB-303, and as it brought a previously inaccessible genre to many people, I think it is a very worthwhile style of music.