A Basic Guide to Electronic Music

Discussion in 'Music genres, Bands and Artists' started by G-Sus, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. Whenever anyone posts anything relating to electronic music 99.9% of the time the thread's title includes the word "techno". This bothers me a little, so, instead of just getting pissed at a computer screen I decided to make a list of the genres within electronic music that you are most likely to come across these days. I don't intend for everyone to know all of this, I guess all I really want is for people to be able to tell the difference between house, techno and trance.

    Most electronic music you hear these days is a really big mixture between a lot of genres so you can't really specify.
    I'm just making this so you'll be able to tell roughly what type of music a given track is.

    Please note that I will only be covering the most popular ones of now, there are way too many sub-genres to list them all.

    You should also know most electronic music has a 4/4 beat structure, this means there's 4 beats to a bar (a single kick drum or a single snare hit), the evolution of a song is based on counting X amount of 4 bars with 4 beats. The BPM measurements I'll give out are really general so you could find music within the genre that's slower or faster.

    1. Downtempo:

    This is a pretty laid-back type of electronic music, its BPM (beats per minute) count is generally pretty slow, between 100-120 bpm. It's really melodic, the grooves are generally made from loops, it also has a really hypnotic feeling to it. The music is quite soft, this means its just never as intense as other electronic music genres like trance or techno. Some sub-genres within downtempo music are trip hop, chillout and lounge. Notable artists who produce downtempo are: Massive Attack, Kruder & Dorfmeister and Thievery Corporation.

    Examples of Downtempo music:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bRdW724blU"]YouTube - Kruder & Dorfmeister - Gotta Jazz (Count Basic The K&D Remixes)[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACKzfdhZ8mc"]YouTube - Buddha Bar VI - Ryukyu Underground - Kanasando-Rebirth Remix[/ame]

    2. House:

    The most common type of electronic music heard in popular night clubs and second only in popularity among the people to trance. House's BPM is generally around 124 and 130 beats per minute, although it varies with each sub-genre. It's heavily influenced by disco, it mimics its percussion by either having a kick drum in every beat or an alternating kick and snare drum. House also has elements from soul and funk, generally really prominent vocals and basslines, as well as groovy melodies. The progression of a track within the genre is relatively quick, resulting in several big and small climaxes within the track. Several different styles of house, like progressive and tech house, have grown to be so big they can be considered whole separate genres in electronic music. Most pop music is based on house. Some popular, current artists within house are: Bob Sinclair, Sebo K and Chocolate Puma.

    Examples of House:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mfb-iTt9_nE"]YouTube - Sebo K - Diva[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOF5QRfQ_CY&feature=channel_page"]YouTube - House (77)[/ame]
    ID: Late Nite Tuff Guy - I get Deeper (Original Mix)

    3. Techno:

    What people believe to be a synonym with electronic music without realizing they're talking about a totally different style of music. Techno basically developed from house and funk with really heavy futuristic themed influence. It's BPM count is normally between 126 and 130 beats per minute. Now a days it sounds totally futuristic and can range from the really melodic to the really electronic sounding. It's also common for current techno to sound as a very dark style of music. It's really repetitive and evolves slowly, generally resulting in one big climax. Some of the biggest names in techno are: Adam Beyer, Sven Väth and Dubfire.

    Examples of Techno:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vFYpMJR9NM"]YouTube - Bart Skils & Anton Pieete - The Running Man (Adam Beyer Remix Part 2)[/ame]


    4. Trance:

    The most popular genre of electronic music among the people today. The top 10 DJ lists for the past few years have been plagued with trance dj's. It's BPM count is normally between 130 and 140 beats per minute. Trance has a really fast progression, a quick development and enormous sounding climaxes. It focuses all on the melody and vocals, having barely noticeable basslines. It also ranges from the overly melodic to the overly electronic. Popular trance artists are: Tiësto, Paul van Dyk and Armin van Buuren.

    Examples of Trance:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k21dSfGumyc"]YouTube - BT Godspeed[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icbclTGmNfU"]YouTube - Bedrock - Heaven Scent (Original Mix)[/ame]

    5. Progressive House:

    A combination between house and trance, its BPM is usually around 126 and 130 BPM. It's really melodic and its evolution is quick. Songs can have many climaxes, generally some small ones and one that's really big. Progressive house tends to have more elaborate basslines than trance while still focusing on the melodic aspect of the music. Sung vocals are really common. Big names in progressive house right now: Sasha & John Digweed, Danny Howells and 16 Bit Lolitas.

    Examples of Progressive House:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQb0ML5qSXU"]YouTube - Ad Brown - Hope [Soliquid Remix][/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fw7lB65u7lk"]YouTube - Denis A - Cuba [Robert Babicz Sunshine Mix][/ame]

    6. Tech House:

    A combination between techno and house, it's BPM is mostly between 124 and 127 beats per minute. It combines the futuristic, dark and repetitive elements of techno with the grooviness of house. Progression in the track is slow, it only climaxes once and it normally is hard. This style of music however can be extremely melodic and laid back. Notable people in tech house are: Steve Lawler, Booka Shade and Josh Wink.

    Examples of Tech House:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4h9yW2dpRPA"]YouTube - Coyu & Edu Imbernon - El Baile Aleman[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woKWKJXN0IQ"]YouTube - Tiefschwarz- Voodoo (original mix)[/ame]

    7.Electro House:

    Another genre that stemmed off from house, tracks from this genre have a tempo of 126-130 beats per minute. Electro is characterized by the heavy use of distortion and vocals in tracks. The music has a very dirty and mechanical sound to it. Drum machines are used as the rhythmic base of tracks in electro. This genre also has a main focus on sounding futuristic, a heavy use of effects helps achieve this feeling. Popular artists from this genre are: David Guetta, Sebastien Leger and Deadmau5.

    Examples of Electro:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByUOYl2BY0g&feature=channel_page"]YouTube - Kaysh - Drug Induced Sex (Kid Dub Loves Kinky Sex Mix)[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3Gca2SO9mg"]YouTube - Modeselektor&Thom Yorke-The White Flash(Trentemöller remix)[/ame]

    8. Minimal:

    Minimal is a sub-genre of both house and techno, that's why I'm giving it a whole section. It's the slowest type of dance music, therefore the slowest music you'll hear in a club. It's BPM count is normally between 120 and 126 bpm. Its name pretty much describes it, it's a really minimalistic type of electronic music. It relies on heavy repetition and understated development and progression. Minimal tracks only have one climax and it's generally barely noticeable. It adheres to the motto "less is more". Big names in minimal are: Richie Hawtin, Magda and Loco Dice.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQnMYGW0xYs"]YouTube - Affkt & Danny Fiddo - Points (Radio Slave Edit)[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYY93L83dhw"]YouTube - Extrawelt - was übrig bleibt (Dominik Eulberg Das Es Remix)[/ame]

    9. Psychedelic or Psytrance:

    Stemmed off from trance and came into the mainstream scene roughly in 1995, the BPM for this genre falls in the 140-150 beats per minute range. It's made of highly rhythmical riffs that are really hypnotic, the music is also quite aggressive and hard. Psychedelic trance has a speedy sound, it also uses prominent bass beats throughout a whole track, and overlays the bass with varying rhythms drawn from other types of music such as funk. The layering of sounds is heavily used in psytrance, layers will be added until the track's climax is reached, resulting in a break down. Then a new rhythmic sequence will begin over the constant bassline. Some of the big guns in psytrance are: Sesto Sento, Talamasca and GMS.

    Examples of Psychedelic Trance:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fiHvaqEXS4"]YouTube - Wrecked Machines Vs Pixel - Sem Parar (Real Version) Full[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLJKr_LLKwc"]YouTube - Aphid Moon & Logica - Loom[/ame]

    10. Breakbeat/Breaks:

    Characterized by the use of a non-straightened drum pattern, unlike house or trance. These rhythms are generally syncopated. Breakbeat music's tempo is around 110-150 beats per minute. In the early 80's, hip-hop DJ's began using several breaks from jazz and funk tracks in a row to use as the rhythmic basis for hip-hop songs. A popular way to do this was to play the same record on two turntables and play the break repeatedly by alternating between the two records (letting one play while spinning the second record back to the beginning of the break). Renowned artistCtrl Z, Freq Nasty and the Plump DJ's

    Examples of Breakbeat:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rr1qQmSPcnY"]YouTube - Prodigy - Out of Space [Breakbeat Remix][/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV-xk2Jmh0U"]YouTube - Moby - Alice (General Midi Remix)[/ame]

    11. Drum 'n Bass:

    This genre of electronic music originated in the beginning of the 1990's, it's characterized by the fast breakbeats it has. Drum n' bass' tempo is usually between 160-190 BPM. Its basslines are pretty heavy and quite aggressive, apart from that the sounds of drum are very varied and subject to many sound effects. Notable artists in drum n' bass are: Pendulum, Goldie and Andy C.

    Examples of Drum n' Bass:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eWLKDpWYnQ"]YouTube - State of Mind - Mind Slicer[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJV6pyLiWsQ"]YouTube - John B - Red Sky[/ame]

    12. Dubstep:

    This is a really dark style of electronic music that's generally instrumental, its tempo is always around 140 BPM. Rhythms in dubstep generally include the use of triplets and they are usually heavily shuffled and syncopated. The rhythms tend to rely on a kick drum based around the first and third beat of a bar and longer percussion loops than the four bar patterns present in techno or house. Often, a track's percussion will follow a pattern which when heard alone will appear to be playing at half the tempo of the track; the double-time feel is instead achieved by other elements, usually the bassline. Big names in dubstep are: Skream, Shackleton and Flying Lotus.

    Examples of Dubstep:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka6lE4ezApA"]YouTube - 331. Dubstep[/ame]
    ID: Moderat - Seamonkey

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RusP6G2TgdU"]YouTube - Subscape - Nothing's Wrong[/ame]
  2. #2 KingWi11, Sep 13, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2009
    whats this, no hardcore, hard style, acid, electro and jungle?
  3. Also, no explanation of the history of said genres or list of artists important to the genres' innovation. But like you said, people will be able to tell the difference between house and trance...
  4. very good man, its is very difficult sometimes when people talk about electro and techno because there are so many varying forms. im into psytrance breakbeat dubstep<3 and glitch hop

    glitch mob is probably my favorite shit out right now. kraddy is the best by himself
  5. Nicely done, sir.
  6. wow dude! awesome guide, so helpful, i never knew the difference between any of these styles
  7. Electro is included, I just called it Electro House because it shares so much with house I considered it to come from it.

    I decided not to include hardstyle as a genre on it's own because of the similarities it shares with trance and also because you don't hear it so often these days. Also jungle because it's pretty much been substituted by Drum & Bass.

    I did however, forget hardcore, I will certainly add it to the list. As for acid I'm undecided because IMO it's another of the many sub-genres of house, it just hasn't had the growth the ones I listed have had.

    You are right, I didn't talk about the history of all these genres because it was not relevant to the objective of making the list. Still, history is always relevant so I'll be adding the genres' histories in the future, it will take me some time though.

    Thanks for pointing these things out to me, I'll get on them :)
  8. How about industrial?
  9. Thank god! Someone who knows the difference between Techno (What the mainstream calles all EDM) and ACTUAL techno (A complete other genre of EDM)

    You forgot more than half of the most popular house subgenre's (Why did you only put House, tech, and Prog?) and none of the DnB subgenre's :(

    This thing could be highly updated...

    Good job nonetheless.
  10. Thank god! Someone who knows the difference between Techno (What the mainstream calles all EDM) and ACTUAL techno (A complete other genre of EDM)

    You forgot more than half of the most popular house subgenre's (Why did you only put House, tech, and Prog?) and none of the DnB subgenre's :(

    This thing could be highly updated...

    Good job nonetheless.
  11. #12 Mr.Wiggles, Sep 14, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2009
    I'd like to make the mention that the genres have not only evolved SO much over the years since their inception, but also each genre has borrowed off eachother in one way or another depending on the DJ or artist.

    So in that respects, sometimes it an be hard to definitively label certain EDM tracks as one genre. Alot of times, it is somewhat muddled and subjective as to what you can classify certain tracks by certain artists.

    I'm pretty fucking involved and knowledgable in regards to EDM and I personally have trouble sometimes distinguishing exactly what genre or subgenre a certain track falls under definitively. There are SO many subgenres, that alot of them aren't even worth mentioning, as it has almost turned into a game onto itself as to just label every track with any semblance of uniqueness in sound as a new subgenre entirely.

    There are a lot of people...educated ones at that who may hear an electro house track and just think house. You get what I'm saying...
  12. Mr. Wiggles my Djforums friend putiin' in some input! :D
  13. Lol, you know how it goes. Bro check your profile...I don't wanna fuh up this dudes thread...oh fuck it, I was in the Revere/East Boston area from Thursday until Saturday night.
  14. I am SO glad that somebody made this.

    If the world had a forum for everything this should be the MAIN sticky so that uneducated fucks would stop calling EVERY electronic song techno.

    btw Drum and bass is by far my favorite genre.

  15. Disco started it all. Some of the early forms of studio trickery came from Disco and artists like Francois Kevorkian remixing disco tunes to lengthen them and add instrumental solos.

    Dub was also one of the first; it came out of reggae. The Jamaicans invented the remix and MC Toasting. I think you can credit King Tubby with the future of electronic music. Jamaican immigrants came to NYC and found some disco dancers would wallflower till the breakdown and dance by touching the floor. They were called "break" dancers. So the DJs began spinning the breakdowns of disco together and invented "breakbeat" and added their Jamaican MCing and invented what we now know as hip-hop. Those DJs were Cool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash. Cool Herc supposedly invented the hip-hop break in 1974 during a Brooklyn block party, but his ego can be a bit inflated. I should also mention the beginnings of Graffiti in my hometown of Philadelphia to form the "4 elements of Hip-Hop": DJing, MCing, Breakdancing, and Graffiti.

    Garage (or UK Garage if you're American) was actually invented in NYC at a club called the Paradise Garage. Well, actually, it can be traced back to a no name DJ whose name escapes me right now, who spun skippy breakbeats in Newark, NJ. Larry Levan, often regarded as the greatest DJ ever, played some of these tunes alongside a predominately disco scene. The British picked up on it and made it their Hip-Hop. Those who listen to Dubstep: dubstep and grime came out of combining dub and 2-step garage. Similarly, speed garage is double time garage with a disco kick.

    House was invented in Chicago around 1982 by Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles from NYC (he was a good friend of Larry Levan). They played disco at a place called The Warehouse. When disco died, the party-goers weren't finished, so DJs bought newly invented samplers and drum machines to make disco knock-offs in their bedrooms. Local record stores started selling these tunes as "Warehouse" music, or simply "House" music.

    Techno was invented in Detroit in 1985 by some kids who frequented the Warehouse parties. They were intrigued by the idea of using machines and not instruments to make music, and decided to use that machine aesthetic much like Kraftwerk did in the 70's. Those kids were Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson.

    It's worth mentioning the revolutionary invention of Acid House in 1986 when the group Phuture discovered that by twiddling the knobs of a machine meant to imitate a bass, the Roland TB-303 would yield an alien squelch that spawned London's own "Summer Of Love" in 1988. The first track was launched at an acid party in Chicago and was thus dubbed "That Acid Track." The rest is history.

    I'm not sure when Trance started. Like '94 maybe? Pretty much a derivative of house but with arena rock song structure and lots of synths. A mostly melody driven genre, rather than the rhythm-based house and breaks. I want to say Oakenfold was one of the first, but maybe that gives him too much credit. Did trance derive from progressive house or were they concordant? I remember hearing an interview with PVD and he was saying he was making tunes on the other side of the Berlin wall and was around for its fall, so that puts him back in the '80s, but he was likely making House back then. Also, it's interesting to note that Americans like to use Techno as the generic blanket term for all electronic music while Europeans use Trance in much the same way.

    Drum & Bass was invented in London in a very similar fashion hip-hop was. The same Jamaican immigrants who went to NYC, also went to London and brought their MC Toasting and Remix. Well, in the amphetamine & ecstasy drugged out acid house scene in London's underground, it's not surprising the drum machines were cranked up to 160-180 bpm. I believe Grooverider is credited with being one of the first innovators along with Goldie and a couple others I can't think of right now. The Caribbean MCs are what give drum&bass the somewhat slanderous nickname of Jungle.

    Hardcore's origins are highly contested. Many think it was a derivative of jungle, but I think it came from the Flemish regions of southern Holland and northern Belgium. There is where producers took House and actually slowed it down and cranked the bass. In the beginning, hardcore was slow, but pounding as hell (similar to industrial). Eventually it combined with jungle to form frantic breakbeats and pounding 4/4 kick drums to create "Rave" music (the term "Rave" was actually coined by Frankie Bones when he threw the Storm Raves in Brooklyn in the early '90s). Rave music eventually split. One half becoming the highly successful sugar-coated Happy Hardcore. The other half falling into the hellish depths of Gabber.

    Downtempo has technically been around forever. Some site the French Musique Concrete with their sampling and looping experimentalism, or Pink Floyd's experimentation with electronics. There's also the early work from Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, and Moby. I'm not so familiar with this genre, but there's a lot there. I know Massive Attack was one of the early trip-hop acts combining downtempo with hip-hop.

    I know there's a lot I'm missing, but they're mostly subgenres. Someone mentioned industrial, but I'm not too familiar with that. I wanna say industrial started with New Wave in the late '70s, bands like Joy Division, who later became New Order and started Synth-Pop and Industrial with The Cure and other similar artists. There was Dave Albini's Big Black, who were technically punk noise rock, but later he formed Rapeman. There's also Foetus, who's and industrial genius. Did the KLF play a part in early industrial?

    Someone posted Ishkur's Guide, which is a great reference because he includes examples, but he hasn't updated it in a while.

    Surfing through Discogs - Database and Marketplace for Music on Vinyl, CD, Cassette, MP3 and More is good because it's the wikipedia of music.

    Google Nate Harrison, he has some great documentaries on the history of the Amen Break and the Acid Bassline titled "Can I Get An Amen?" and "Bassline Baseline" respectively.

    And if you're really interested in the history, read "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. It starts with the invention of radio and goes to present day (published 1999). A fantastic read. Lacking in D&B, hardcore, and dubstep (which wasn't invented yet), but otherwise a great history lesson. I pretty much paraphrased some of that book.
  16. True that Funk96. I love subgenres but these days they are taking it a little bit too far...

  17. You are sort of right, but you can definitely tell the difference between a lot of those. I mean, there is a huge difference breakcore and breakbeat hardcore.

    and besides, how is this any different List of rock genres - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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