House vs. Deep House: The Differences Between the Two Genres

Electronic Techno Music Styles Word Cloud Bubble

House and deep house are two electronic dance music (EDM) genres that may sound similar to some people. However, there are differences between the two genres.

House and deep house songs have a sound emphasis difference. Usually, deep house songs have a more spacious use of percussion, muted or deeper bassline, and jazzy/soulful lush/ambiance/underground sound. Also, deep house songs usually have more advanced chord structures and soft-sounding pads.

This post will explain many (probably not all) similarities and differences between house songs and deep house songs. The information in this post comes from online references, and I filtered that information with my knowledge.

The Differences Between House and Deep House

The EDM genres house and deep house have similarities and differences, and the table below shows some of these.

This post explains the information in the table below in more detail in the sections under this table.

housedeep house
place of originChicago, Illinois, United StatesChicago, Illinois, United States
musical originsBoogie, Disco, Electro, Hi-NRG, Jazz, Latin soulhouse, Chicago house, soul, jazz-funk, New York garage
first songJesse Saunders – On and OnMr. Fingers – Mystery of Love
year the first song released19841985
some well-known artistsBob Sinclar, Frankie Knuckles, Sebastian IngrossoSaison, Fred Everything, and Miguel Migs
common temposrange: 115—130 BPMrange: 110—125 BPM
time signature, rhythm pattern4/4, four-on-the-floor4/4, four-on-the-floor
rhythm emphasisUsually, house songs emphasize every beat with a bass drum hit and emphasize the second and the fourth beat even more. The extra emphasis usually happens with a snare or clap hit on top of the bass drum. Also, house songs emphasize the off-beat with a hi-hat usually.Usually, deep house songs emphasize every beat with a bass drum hit and emphasize the second and the fourth beat even more. The extra emphasis usually happens with a snare or clap hit on top of the bass drum hit. Also, deep house songs emphasize the off-beat with a hi-hat usually.
sound emphasisUsually on a bassline / drums / synthesizer riff / vocal.Usually on a spacious use of percussion / muted bassline or deep bassline / soft-sounding pads / soulful vocals. These songs usually also have advanced chord structures/ambiance / jazzy sound / soulful and lush sound of early disco music / underground sound.
length of phrasesThe most common length of phrases is 8 bars. However, the same song can also have one or multiple phrases of 4 bars or 16 bars but are less common.The two most common lengths of phrases are 8 bars and 16 bars. However, the same song can also have one or multiple phrases of 4 bars but is less common.
structureA common house song structure has the following parts in this order: intro, breakdown, drop, breakdown, drop, outro.A common deep house song structure has the following parts in this order: intro, breakdown, drop, the main breakdown, drop, outro.
average song length5 minutes6:25 minutes

The Origins of House and Deep House

House music comes from Chicago, Illinois, United States. The musical origins of house music are Boogie, Disco, Electro, Hi-NRG, Jazz, and Latin soul (source: House music).

Deep house music comes from Chicago, Illinois, United States. The musical origins of deep house music are house, Chicago house, soul, jazz-funk, New York garage (source: Deep house).

This website has a blog post about the first house song ever, for which I performed much research. According to that blog post, the first house song is “On and On” by Jesse Saunders, released in 1984.

This website has a blog post about the first deep house song ever, for which I performed much research. According to that blog post, the first deep house song is “Mystery of Love” by Mr. Fingers, released in 1985.

Some Well-Known House and Deep House Artists

There are multiple DJ lists, such as the “The DJ List Ranking,” and I believe these lists are not always 100% correct, but they can still be useful.

On the “The DJ List Ranking” page of The DJ List, we can see house DJs such as Bob Sinclar and Sebastian Ingrosso. The “The best house music DJs of all time” page of Time Out can show us another great house DJ, Frankie Knuckles, my personal favorite.

The “Deep House Artists” page of Last.fm and the “Top Deep House Artists of 2020” page of Traxsource have a deep house DJ list. We can see the DJs Saison, Fred Everything, and Miguel Migs in these lists.

I believe that the mentioned DJs are house and deep-house DJs.

House and Deep House Song Characteristics

The subsections below explain the similarities and differences between house song and deep house song characteristics.

Common Tempos of House and Deep House

This website has a blog post about the common tempos of EDM genres, for which I did much research. According to that blog post, house songs usually have a tempo within the 115—130 BPM range, and deep house songs usually have a tempo within the 110—125 BPM range.

Time Signatures of House and Deep House

House has a 4/4 time signature (source: House music).

Deep house songs have a 4/4 time signature (source: Deep House Music Guide: 4 Characteristics of Deep House).

Rhythm Patterns of House and Deep House

House has a four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern (source: House music, Books, Is it house? Or is it trance? A beginner’s guide to electronic music genres).

Deep house songs have a 4/4 time signature (source: Deep House Music Guide: 4 Characteristics of Deep House).

The Rhythm Emphasis of House and Deep House

The rhythm emphasis in a house song is on every beat with a bass drum hit and emphasizing the second and the fourth beat even more. The extra emphasis usually happens with a snare or clap hit on top of the bass drum. Also, house songs emphasize the off-beat with a hi-hat usually (source: House music, How do you explain the difference between house music and techno?, House vs Techno vs Trance Music – What are the Differences?).

Deep house is a subgenre of the house genre (source: Deep house). Therefore, deep house songs could have the same rhythm emphasis as house songs.

These pages show that deep house can have a similar rhythm emphasis as the mentioned one of house songs:

Deep house songs can also have different rhythm emphasis as the mentioned one in house songs, such as one without extra emphasis on the second and the fourth beat (source: Rolling Deep House).

The Sound Emphasis of House and Deep House

The sound emphasis of house songs is usually on a bassline/drums/synthesizer riff/vocal (source: House music, House vs Techno vs Trance Music – What are the Differences?, Is it house? Or is it trance? A beginner’s guide to electronic music genres, Books).

The sound emphasis of deep house songs is usually on a spacious use of percussion/muted bassline or deep bassline/soft-sounding pads/soulful vocals. These songs usually also have advanced chord structures/ambiance/jazzy sound/soulful and lush sound of early disco music/underground sound (source: Deep house).

Typically in deep house songs (source: Deep house, Deep House: 5 Production Essentials):

  • The percussion elements are from a Roland TR-909 drum machine.
  • A muted bassline sounds almost as muted. We can make such a bassline sound with a sine waveform or with a different waveform and filter it to the point of almost being a sine waveform.
  • The soulful vocals focus on subjects that are positive/uplifting or more melancholic, like blues.
  • The jazzy deep house sound comes from gentle organic synthesizer production and instrument sounds.

As far as I know, here follows the meaning of some of the mentioned deep house sound emphasis terms:

  • The more hits of a particular percussion in a certain amount of time, the more energetic it can feel. Compared to many other genres, deep house songs tend to go for a less energetic feel, which it does with fewer hits of a particular percussion, which is the spacious use of percussion.
  • A muted bassline could also be when the bass sound comes from elements such as percussion instead of a dedicated bassline.
  • Advanced chord structures are chord structures that are more advanced than the most simple ones.

The Length of Phrases in House and Deep House Songs

The most common length of phrases for house songs is 8 bars. However, the same song can also have one or multiple phrases of 4 bars or 16 bars but are less common (source: House music, How To Make House Music: The Complete Guide, House vs Techno vs Trance Music – What are the Differences?).

The most common lengths of phrases for deep house songs are 8 bars and 16 bars (source: 10 Deep House Songs Analyzed by Structure, Deep House: 5 Production Essentials). However, I think that the same song can also have one or multiple phrases of 4 bars, but it is less common. The deep house genre is a subgenre of the house genre, and 4 bar phrases can be part of a house song (source: House music, How To Make House Music: The Complete Guide).

The Structure of House and Deep House Songs

EDMProd analyzed the songs in the Beatport top 100. According to the analysis, in October 2015, EDMProd shared the most found song structures.

EDMProd described each of these song structures with a sequence of letters. Each of these letters is a section type of a song structure. The section types of these letters are:

  • A: verse, breakdown, build-up, or alternative section
  • B: chorus or drop
  • C: bridge, main breakdown, or musically different section

According to the analysis, the most common house song structure is ABAB, which EDMProd only found once more than the house structure ABCB. Also, the analysis shows us that the most common deep house song structure is ABCB (source: What I Learned from Analyzing the Top 100 Tracks on Beatport).

I believe (from experience) that the meaning of the mentioned section-type letters for the song structures can be simpler. The simpler meaning of the section type letters could be:

  • A: breakdown
  • B: drop
  • C: main breakdown (the longest breakdown)

To give the structures more detail, I think the breakdowns in these song structures usually end with a build-up. I also believe that the mentioned song structures by EDMProd are the most common ones, not only of the analyzed songs.

As also explained by EDMProd, there can be two versions of a house song, the ‘original mix’ and the ‘radio-friendly’ one. The radio-friendly one can be the same structure as the already mentioned structure of the Beatport top 100 in October 2015. The original mix version can be the same as the radio-friendly one, but with an added intro before and an added outro after the radio-friendly structure (source: How To Make House Music: The Complete Guide).

As far as I know, people sometimes name the original mix version as the ‘extended mix’ version. The difference between the extended mix version and the not extended mix version can be more different than the extra intro and outro.

An example with a house song is “Morenita” by HUGEL (ft. Cumbiafrica), which does have an extended mix and a not extended mix, and you can listen to both versions below in this post. This song is part of the house genre (source: Morenita feat. Cumbiafrica Extended Mix).

An example with a deep house song is “Lauren” by Oden & Fatzo, which does have an extended mix and a not extended mix, and you can listen to both versions below in this post. This song is part of the deep house genre (source: Lauren (I Can’t Stay Forever) Extended).

The Song Lengths of House and Deep House

As already mentioned, the song length can depend on the version of that song, such as that the ‘original mix’ or ‘extended mix’ is (probably always) longer than the ‘radio edit’ one.

EDMProd analyzed the Beatport top 100 in October 2015 and found the average song length of multiple genres (source: What I Learned from Analyzing the Top 100 Tracks on Beatport).

The average house song length is 5:09 minutes, according to the analysis by EDMProd. Someone on Quora mentioned that House songs usually are 4 or 5 minutes long (source: What is the difference between techno and house music?). Combining the two sources with my experience, I think the average House song length is 5 minutes.

The average deep house song length is 6:25 minutes, according to the analysis by EDMProd. Some people believe that the length of a deep house song is usually between 7 and 10 minutes (source: Top 10 Best Deep House Songs, What characterizes deep house music?). I think that the average deep house song length is about 6:25 minutes.

House and Deep House Song Examples

This section has some house and deep house song examples.

The extended mix of the house song “HUGEL (ft. Cumbiafrica) – Morenita.”

Here is the official video version of the house song “HUGEL (ft. Cumbiafrica) – Morenita.” This version has a few moments with a few seconds of video sounds.

The extended mix of the deep house song “Lauren” by Oden & Fatzo

Here is the official video version of the deep house song “Lauren” by Oden & Fatzo. This version has a few moments with a few seconds of video sounds.

Closing Words

Hopefully, you have learned something from the explained similarities and differences between the two EDM genres, house and deep house.

If you like this post, look at some other posts on this website since you might also like them.

You can share this post when you know someone who likes to learn more about the similarities and differences between the two EDM genres, house and deep house.

By Markus Kreukniet

Markus Kreukniet is an electronic dance music (EDM) producer and founder of Passion for EDM. He wants to share his EDM knowledge with the rest of the world. Read more about Markus Kreukniet.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.