Electronic Music

Electronic dance music is a popular genre in which percussive sounds are mostly mixed with loud music. It became popular in the late 2000’s when people started playing it at nightclubs. Electronic dance music has many sub categories like progressive music, house music, psy, electro house and dubstep. Electro house Music and Techno House Music differ in the respect of the sounds employed to make the music. Electro house music is also much faster and can be as fast as one hundred and twenty to one hundred and eighty beats per minute. Electronic music has been described as a multi genre type of music because of the plethora of styles that come under it. Two main types are synthpop and electroclash. Popularized by disco and rock, synthpop is a genre of music which uses a synthesizer as the main sound producing instrument. It was born in the 1970’s after punk rock became popular in the United Kingdom and Japan. Many artists like Ultravox, The Human League, Pet Shop Boys and Duran Duran specialized in making such music and were greatly successful, albeit for a short period of time. Nouveau Disco or electroclash is a genre of electronic dance music in which traditional disco music is mixed with electronic music to produce musical sounds. Larry Lee coined the term electro lash. Electro lash gives importance to song writing and lyrics rather than the sound produce. Electronic dance music is a diverse genre and a mix of traditional and contemporary music. EDM was the moniker termed for electronic music in the late 1900’s and is listened to by people all over the world. Many music festivals like Sunburn and Tomorrowland prove that EDM is a widespread phenomenon which is likely to be around for a long time to come.


The History of EDM

Music has been around for decades, be it in peace, war, love or hate. People have been accustomed and introduced to music since ancient times. Many people believe that EDM has one single root. But this is not true. It has stemmed from a number of music genres such as rock and roll and pop music. Before EDM came into the picture, there was disco and funk. Because people started getting bored with it, an innovative DJ's decided to mix it with electronic sounds. This trend caught on and soon became a popular form of music from which electronic music would be the final outcome. An electrical engineer called Elisha Gray invented the first electronic synthesizer which would be used in making electronic sounds for music. Although his inventions were initially for telegraphic communication, he decided to experiment with music on retiring from the field of science. His instrument was a simple two octave keyboard which produced one single sound. This was revered by the musicians of his day who then took to experimenting with the different octaves and making music. With the advent of technology in the 1900’s synthesizers were complimented by computer sounds and electric sounds giving birth to electropop and electrofunk. Digital technology in music became even more popular with people like Harry Nyquist and Claude Shannon who presented the ‘Sampling Theorem’. This was the groundwork on which the DJ's based his electronic sounds. EDM also has its roots in blues and jazz. Blues and Jazz were genres in which the importance was given to musical sounds rather than lyrics which is similar to the concept of electronic music. Rocksteady and Reggae are not huge influences on electronic dance music although they did have an effect on the subsequent genres of EDM. EDM is used as an umbrella term and the connoisseurs can tell one sub genre from another. It is apparent that EDM has been around for decades if not centuries and many people have tried to put their own twist on it through the ages.

Genres of EDM

Most common people are unable to differentiate the different genres of electronic music since all of them sound similar. However EDM fans know that each genre has its own distinct quality which one can easily identify. One can therefore infer that dubstep, techno and house are separate genres of electronic music. House music is one of the oldest genres of electronic dance music and has been around for thirty years. It was born from disco and funk. Deep house music is often confused with Buddha Bar style music but is not the same. This is because deep house is much faster and has more electronic sounds. Electro house and Techno house music are two terms often confused with one another but electro house focuses more on the sounds made rather than musical potential. Popular artists of this genre include David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia and Afrojack. Techno like house, has also been around for a long time. Its roots arise from pop and rock. Many DJ's decided to add electronic sounds to the music of Madonna and Duran Duran to appeal to the younger generation’s taste. Popular artists include Derrick May, Carl Cox and Richie Hawkins. Techno music has no subgenres and is counted as one of the single most influential styles for modern electronic dance music Trance is a popular form of EDM is Europe, specifically Germany. Trance focuses on musical sounds which make one feel ‘trippy’ or high and is popular amongst those under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Drum and Bass and Grime are the more sinister sounds of EDM where they sound like a war march or a death march rather than music. They also incorporate some jazz, soul and hip hop although not much. Garage music is one of the few forms of EDM which focuses on the vocals rather than music. It was made popular in the United Kingdom. Other popular genres include Hardstyle, Moonbahton, Juke, Breakbeat and Downtempo.


Dubstep is a form which has had an influence on many styles and artists especially in the recent past. Artists like Justin Beiber, Britney Spears, RIhanna and Beyonce have all taken to dubstep sounds in their music to cater to the current generation. Dubstep is a grimy sound with drums and bass dominating the bulk of the song. Dubstep is more popular in Europe than it is all over the world but still a large part of college children’s lives in the United States. With Dubstep, came the advent of Brostep. This is a term used in the United States where this kind of music is mainly played at parties or used as a backup for drinking games. Steez Promo is one of the biggest companies which is currently trying to popularize Dubstep and Brostep in the U.S. Dubstep is played in undergrounds places where people can bring their own alcohol, hang out with friends and dance till they drop. Steez Promo started promoting Dubstep in Baltimore but it soon spread across many colleges in the United States. Brostep is a grimier form of Dubstep in which the melody is given extremely little importance. Like Dubstep, it focuses on drums and bass but has a much louder sound. Traditional electronic music took parts of funk, rock and roll, jazz and rhythm and blues in order to make the music. However Dubstep and Brostep are generally played at rave parties where people do not care much for melody. Brostep and Dubstep may seem like two similar genres, but they are not. Brostep has no particular beat or predictable pattern of sound whereas dubstep does.

Electronic Dance Music Terminology

Many terms used in EDM are unconventional but have surprisingly made it to the Urban dictionary and are very commonly used by EDM fans. A person who listens to classic rock may not be familiar with these terms. Some of these terms are ‘Molly till you drop', ‘Plurnt', ‘Rave Bunny', and 'E'. EDM is an umbrella term used for music without lyrics mostly relying on the sounds of drums and bass. A rave is defined as a gathering of people who come to listen to electronic music. Most rave parties are complimented by drugs and casual sex which make them illegal. They are therefore held in abandoned spaces where people are less likely to get caught. Plur is the shorthand term used for Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. It was coined by Frankie Bines a popular rave DJ's who wanted to show people that rave parties were not necessarily bad. As in any music, electronic music also has a pickup, and a follow up. The drop comes in between these two parts where the drums take a backseat to electronic sounds. It is also observed as the point or part of the song where people tend to get chills or goosebumps. Trance is the most popular form of EDM. Recent studies also show that people who listen to trance more often have an average IQ. Trap music is similar to hip hop music. It focuses on vocals but the pitch may be higher on lower than traditional hip hop. It is also known as ‘chirp music’ or seapunk’ music. A plurnt is an aDJ'sective used to describe an enhanced state of awareness because of an individual’s intense twerking. These are some common EDM words which are used.

Criticisms Against EDM

EDM may be popular among the crowds, but it has also been criticized by many people. Some DJ's like Steve Lawler and Martin Garrix have said that DJ's ethos is completely ignored. Many performers do not use their own music and steal from fellow musicians while using prerecorded tracks. They do not use or make original music and simply remix songs from others. It is also known as music plagiarism and has led to a number of lawsuits between many DJ's. Many DJ's today are known as ‘Push Button DJ's’ who are known to perform by only pushing buttons and remixing tracks which already exist. They rarely make new music. Showbiz is not the most honest business and people have openly admitted it. DJ's admit that the sheer prospect of going to an electronic dance concert or performing in front of a huge crowd is enough to surpass all levels of honesty and ethics. Another criticism of EDM which has been brought into light is the lack of creativity. To a layman, electronic music all sounds the same maybe with a tiny difference in each song but not much. Many artists Oike Avicii and Tiesto have said that electronic music will die out soon if it does not become innovative. Avicii incorporated some bluegrass sounds into his hit single “Wake Me Up”. Since it was not traditional house music or electronic music, it became very popular and is still a popular song by many people. Many times EDM has been criticized for lacking diversification and having one standard beat. However artists have even gone to the extent of mixing Bollywood songs and Nursery Rhymes to prove these people wrong. EDM has also been spoofed by many talk shows including Saturday night Live in which they show a DJ's who does anything but entertain the crowd. People only want to go to EDM concerts where the music is loud and where the bass drops. A bass drop is just a part in the song where the drums take over and music gets louder. It has also been observed that the younger generation has become dependent on EDM music to have a good time. Studies show that children who listen to more of trance and other EDM styles are more likely to be dependent on alcohol and drugs. Many people are also willing to pay the exorbitant prices for a ticket to a Martin Garrix or Avici concert without giving much thought to expenses.

A number of festivals celebrate EDM as a dance and music form in Europe, USA, India, and Asia. The most popular one is of course Tomorrowland in Belgium which attracts many tourists from all around the world. LovParade was a popular festival till 2010, when twenty one people were killed, and five hundred people were injured. Mayday is another German festival taking place predominantly in Dortmund but also in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Cologne. Creamfields and Bang Face are festivals held in the United Kingdom on an annual basis. Electronic music is also highly popular in the United States where a number of festivals take place. One of the biggest ones is the Nocturnal Wonderland Festival, which happens across multiple cities in America. The Electric Daisy carnival has been around since 1997 and is also held in multiple cities. It is a celebration of how EDM has evolved as dance and music style. In California and Miami the two festivals are Lightning in a bottle and Ultra Music Festival respectively. They also boast of a large fan base from locals as well as international crowds. These two festivals are on a slightly larger scale than the rest of the festivals in the U.S. In Asia, especially in India a festival called Sunburn is held annually in Goa. This festival is the biggest EDM festival in Asia. Spanning over a period of three to four days, this has become a global phenomenon with people having to book tickets three to four months in advance. However electronic music festivals need not just be DJ's performing and people getting intoxicated. Some festivals like Zimfest in Oregon, is a Zimbabwean festival featuring music, workshops and other activities over a span of three days. Many music festivals since then have tried to do the same. In California, they have a festival called Chillits where amateur DJ's play.


Many DJ's think that the bass drop is one of the most important parts of any EDM song. If the bass does not drop, then the people do not seem to enjoy the song. The bass drop has been compared to a streak of lightning or a thunderstorm. For the DJ's, the bass drop is the essence of the song. It has been proved that a bass drop below 100 Hz causes the bones to vibrate and molecular structure to change slightly which is why humans get so excited when the bass drops. EDM has won a number of awards at ceremonies. The Best Dance Recording at the Grammys in 2014 was taken by Zedd for his hit song “Clarity”. Many albums have also won awards and accolades in the past. Daft Punk has won many awards for their electronic style of music. Many new artists have been trying to break into the electronic music industry. Electronic dance music is an acquired taste and appeals mainly to the younger generation. It is important for the composer to be able to predict the parts of the song where the electronic sound comes in because the crowd will respond accordingly in a positive or negative manner. Electronic music is one of the few interactive styles where the success of the song depends on crowd involvement. With all its critics, EDM appeals today to more and more people and will be around for a long time.


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