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Electronic Music

Electronic music is a genre that utilizes electronic music instruments and technology. These instruments and technology include but are not restricted to synthesizers, computers, drum machines and sequencers. The music is generally produced for consumption by disc-jockeys or DJs. Electronic music is an overarching terminology used to describe the various sub-genres that fall within this category. This genre of music is one that is constantly evolving with new sub-genres being added regularly to replace those which fall out of favor with the general public. Often a key differentiating factor between the various sub-genres is Beats-Per-Minute or BPM. Electronic music has enjoyed mainstream popularity since the 1970s disco era however its roots can be traced to much earlier eras in history. In fact, the late 19th and early 20th century produced the invention of various devices which proved to be highly influential upon the electronic genre of music. For example, in 1857 the French painter and bookseller Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville invented the phonautograph which is one the earliest sound-recording devices on record. Whilst the device was able to record sound visually, it was unable to play any sound back. This device was a precursor of future  sound recording music equipment. Notable main genres of electronic music are discussed below.


Disco was a genre of electronic music which achieved peak popularity in the 1970s. Whilst no longer popular today, disco was a genre that played a key role in shaping the  future of electronic music. Initial audiences of disco music were club-goers in New York and Philadelphia who would frequent discothèques, a social nightspot for the younger community which had replaced the Dance Halls of the 1960s. Musical influences on this genre include funk, Latin and soul music. Disco, just like other sub-genres of electronic music involves heavy use of electronic instruments such as synthesizers. Well known disco-era artists include the Bee Gees and KC & the Sunshine band. Some musical experts even consider ‘Stayin Alive’ by the Bee Gees to be the quintessential disco-era song which was immortalized in the film Saturday Night Fever.




This genre of electronic music involves heavy use of drum machines and electronic sounds. Generally electro tracks have little or no vocals. When electro tracks do contain vocals they are often less emotive and play a minor role in the entire song. Vocals are also often distorted electronically via a process known as ‘Vocoding’ which involves human vocals being mimicked and produced by a synthesizer. Pioneers of this genre of electronic music include producer Afrika Bambaata who released the groundbreaking track ‘Planet Rock’ in 1982. Earlier electro tracks such as ‘Planet Rock’ prominently feature rapping. Whilst this style may have been popular in the genre’s infancy it is less common today though not entirely unheard of due to the collaborative nature of music.




This genre can also be classified as Eurohouse, Eurotechno or Euro-NRG as these terms are often used interchangeably. This subgenre originated in the 1980s primarily in Europe and have continually evolved through the 1990s till the present day. Eurodance tracks heavily utilize rich melodic vocals which serve to distinguish it from other types of electronic music. Melodic vocals (which predominantly tend to be female vocals) are combined with breakthrough synthesizer, robust bass beats and musical hooks. Eurodance is especially popular in Australia, Russia, Japan, Latin America and Europe. The tempo of Eurodance is on average 140 BPM however this may vary between 110 to 150 BPM. Famous old-school Eurodance artists include the German Group La Bouche who had worldwide hits in the mid-1990s.




Techno is a form of electronic dance music which was first created in Detroit, Michigan during the 1980s. Early techno involved the blending of electronic music with various African American music styles such as funk, Chicago house and electric jazz. Techno often has futuristic or fictional themes and generally contains repetitive instrumental music with little vocals. Techno tempo tends to vary between 120BPm and 150BPM depending on the particular style. Whilst techno has traditionally been a genre that has achieved little commercial success due to its niche appeal there are notable techno acts which have achieved mainstream appeal such as Underworld and Orbital. Techno music is now spreading widely and cities such as Berlin, Paris or Lyon battle to have the best artists come and play at their clubs.


House music is a genre of electronic dance music which has its origins in Chicago, Illinois. It originated in the early 1980s and was popularized in the discotheques of the era. Since the 1990s, house music has been influenced by and incorporated a various range of other genres including mainstream pop and dance music. Early house music involved a combination of repetitive beats, drum machines, hi-hat cymbal sounds and synthesized rhythmic baselines. After enjoying significant success in the underground and club-based scenes of the early 80s, house music emerged into the mainstream music scene from the 90s onwards and various commercially successful artists began to incorporate house elements into their own music. House music generally ranges from 118 to 135 BPM. Modern day DJ MCDE a is an example of a DJ who blends traditional house music with disco and  mainstream genres.







Dubstep is a subgenre of electronic music that has its origins in the United Kingdom, particularly South London. The typical instruments utilized in the creation of Dubstep are sequencers, turntables, samplers, drum machines, synthesizers, keyboards and personal computer software. Dubstep has been around since approximately 1998 however it has recently achieved immense mainstream popularity and is one of the more popular up-and-coming genres of 2012. An early producer of this genre was BBC1 DJ John Peel who produced Dubstep tracks to be broadcast of commercial radio from 2003 onwards. Defining characteristics of Dubstep has evolved and change since its infancy in 1998. Early dubstep tends to be more experimental and incorporates elements of the drum and base genre with 2-step garage sound. More recent Dubstep involves the collaboration of DJs with more artists from more mainstream genres such as Pop and Hip-Hop. Popular dubstep DJs include the likes of Skrillex a 24 year old electronic music producer from the United States.


More information on Electronic Music:

Analogik- Electronic Music Organisation

Electronic Music Foundation

Australian Dance Music