Strings of Life

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"Strings of Life"
Strings of Life.jpg
Single by Rhythim Is Rhythim
Released 1987
  • 7:23 Strings Of Life (Piano Mix)
  • 6:56 Strings (Flam-Boy-Ant Mix)
  • 7:20 Strings Of Life '89 (Juan's Magic Mix)
  • 6:58 Strings of Life (Exclusive Remix)
  • 8:23 Strings Of Life (Unreleased Mix)
Label Transmat
Songwriter(s) Michael Bruce James
Producer(s) Derrick May
Rhythim Is Rhythim singles chronology
"Nude Photo"
"Strings of Life"
"It Is What It Is"

"Nude Photo"
"Strings of Life"
"It Is What It Is"
Music video
"Strings of Life" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Strings of Life" is a 1987 single by American electronic musician Derrick May, under the name Rhythim Is Rhythim. It is his most well-known song and considered a classic in both the house music and techno genres. May is credited with developing the futuristic variation that would be dubbed "Techno".[4] Techno Music set the groundwork for modern Electronic Dance Music, EDM.

Background and release[edit]

Born in Detroit, May began exploring electronic music at early age. His high school friends were Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson. They were commonly known as the Belleville Three.

In 1987 May started his production career with the release of "Nude Photo", a single co-written by Thomas Barnett. The single helped kickstart the Detroit techno music scene. A year later he followed it with the release of "Strings of Life," which was named by Frankie Knuckles.[5] It "hit Britain in an especially big way during the country's 1987-1988 house explosion."[6]

"Strings of Life" is based on a piano sequence by May's friend Michael James. He dropped in for a visit at May's house and sat down to play a piano ballad he had been working on called, "Lightning Strikes Twice". This piece went into Derrick's sequencer and was kept there until Derrick decided to listen to it all the way through. He found some portions which interested him, and he started to work with it. The song was originally at 80 BPM before May increased the tempo, chopped it up into loops, and added percussion and string samples.

According to Frankie Knuckles, the track "just exploded. It was like something you can't imagine, the kind of power and energy people got off that record when it was first heard. Mike Dunn says he has no idea how people can accept a record that doesn't have a bassline."[5] The song was featured in video game Midnight Club: Street Racing[7][8]

In 1989 the song was remixed by Juan Atkins and released as "Strings Of Life '89". It peaked at #74 in the UK.[9]

Impact and legacy[edit]

Mixmag ranked the song #17 in its 100 Greatest Dance Singles of All Time list in 1996.[10]

DJ Magazine ranked "Strings of Life" #25 in their list of Top 100 Club Tunes in 1998.[11]

BBC Radio’s 2008 listeners & DJs poll The Greatest Ever Dance Record ranked "Strings of Life" #4, after Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean", James Brown's "Sex Machine" and Donna Summer's "I Feel Love".[12]

The Guardian featured the song on their A History of Modern Music: Dance in 2011.[13]

Mixmag ranked the song #28 in their list of 50 Greatest Dance Tracks of All Time in 2013.[14]

LA Weekly ranked "Strings of Life" #1 in its The 20 Best EDM and Dance Music Tracks in History in 2015.[15]

Time Out's 2015 list of The 20 Best House Tracks Ever included "Strings of Life" as #12.[16]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1989) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[9] 74

Cover versions, samples and remixes[edit]

American musician Juan Atkins remixed the song in 1989, released as "Strings Of Life '89 (Juan's Magic Mix)".


  1. ^ "Strings of Life 2001 - Derrick May - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  2. ^ "10 Years of Techno - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  3. ^ "Hed Kandi: Back to Love, Vol. 2 - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  4. ^ "Derrick May Bio, Music, News & Shows". Archived from the original on April 12, 2015. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Interview: Derrick May - The Secret of Techno (archived)". Mixmag. 1997. Archived from the original on 30 April 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Bush, John. "Derrick May". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Midnight Club: Street Racing [Greatest Hits]: Information from". Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  8. ^ "Midnight Club: Street Racing - Credits". allgame. 2010-10-03. Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  9. ^ a b "RHYTHIM IS RHYTHIM". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  10. ^ "The 100 Greatest Dance Singles of All Time". Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  11. ^ "DJ Magazine Top 100 Club Tunes (1998)". Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  12. ^ "Billie Jean voted top dance song". Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  13. ^ "A history of modern music: Dance". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  14. ^ "What is the greatest dance track of all time?". Retrieved March 22, 2017. 
  15. ^ "The 20 Best EDM and Dance Music Tracks in History". Retrieved March 22, 2017. 
  16. ^ "20 best house tracks ever". Retrieved 2017-03-22.