Electronic dance music, sometimes called electronic dance music or just electronic dance, is an expansive category of popular percussive music genres developed primarily for clubs, raves, and other festivals. This music can be hard to classify, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t out there! Electronic dance artists have released music on their own labels, as well as independently. Most notable among this genre’s practitioners are producers such as Diplobot, breaks, Justinwire, Koven, Plasticick, Aaron Spectre, Carl Cox, Don Beats, Mike C, Aaron Spectre, Waxahatchee, J-Love, DJ Craze, Aaron Spectre, and others.
The first electronic music was probably produced in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s through the United States and Canada, though some sources give Ireland credit. At any rate, the earliest genres are widely thought to have been based on hip hop and reggae styles. More recently, however, more generic and abstract sounds have become popular. One of the earliest styles to come to the forefront was drum programming, which has become a standard in many dance genres, including house, trance, and many others. Dubbed the ‘guitar looping’ effect, this technique allows for the presence of percussion instruments (usually cymbals) in electronic music – this effect was most prominent with the work of John Williams.
Dance music producers have also experimented with sound manipulation, especially with ‘free form’ EDM. A precursor to modern electronic dance, free form EDM was popularized by the Japanese dance producer, Hiroyuki Takahashi. In fact, many believe it to have been Takahashi himself who popularized the term. One early example of this can be heard on the landmark album ‘Kraftwork’. With its thick drum programming and distorted melodies, it is clear to hear influences of breakcore and IDM. Free form continues to evolve and develop, as modern producers explore new audio-visual techniques.
Today, we see new and more complex devices being used in EDM. This includes state-of-the-art software that allow producers and DJs to create entire songs with just a few MIDI notes, instead of the traditional piano roll and other instruments of the past. Another popular tool is the implementation of ‘virtual instruments’, which allow users to perform digital instruments using hardware keyboards and pads. Together, these new tools have made what is known as ‘EDM’ more popular than ever.
One of the most popular genres is techno-house. Inspired by the worldwide phenomenon of ‘techno music’, producers in this genre continually strive to produce innovative electronic beats. One of the pioneers of this genre was the late Michael Jackson, who was known for his innovative use of synthesizers in his songs. The most notable musicians to feature keyboards in their tracks include artists such as DJ Craze, Jazzy Jeff and Pharrell, who are today amongst the biggest names in the house music industry.
Another very popular electronic dance music genre is ‘Trance’. This style is heavily influenced by the extensive use of synthetic sounds and beats. While this style is relatively new, the great thing about it is that it is constantly evolving. In fact, it has been very closely associated with the birth of the rave music era. A major influence on this genre has been trance music producer Tiesto, who is widely respected for his amazing production skills and his amazing sense of taste.
The third and final main category is dubstep. Dubstep is the cousin of techno and house music and is characterized by its drum programming, which often incorporates sampling from other sources (such as drum beats from classic rock records). A very important point about dubstep is that it has largely remained the same since its inception, although certain styles have evolved over the years. One example of this is the ‘breaks’ that many producers have come up with, which have become a standard in many Dubstep songs.
Electronic dance music has been around for decades now, and although some genres have become mainstream, others, such as jungle, techno and dubstep, have remained underground. For people who are just starting out, it might be a good idea to start with one of these three main categories. Even if you later discover that this particular style of music is not your cup of tea, you will at least have a background in one of the main categories before progressing to the others. All three of these genres, when listened to together, create an atmosphere that will inspire you to create your own original sounds.