This blog was written for primeloops.com – check them out for some ace samples and to see my blogs 2 months earlier!
Electronic Music has, to put it bluntly, changed the world.
Imagine a world without pumping 4-on-the-floor beats, soaring euphoric synths and bathroom-break-inducing basslines. Sure we’d have sturdier bladders, but at what cost?
I’m Dave – the new recruit here at primeloops and I’ll be blogging twice weekly about all things electronica. Since this is my first comissioned post, a history of dance music’s progression seems a logical and fun choice!
I’ll even make it a story for you. Once upon a time, there was a misunderstood little genre called…
Bear with me.
This genre dared to be different, by which I mean it dared to be the same – a 4 on the floor consistant drumbeat accompanied most tracks. Bringing funk, pop rock and the newly popularised electronic music equipment – synths and drum machines together, the genre enveloped the popular music scene in the late 70s.
But with popularity comes hatred – actual riots kicked off because people hated disco so much (hilariously enough, I’m not even joking). And so the genre fell back into obscurity, but as tends to happen in EDM (Electronic Dance Music), from the ashes rose another genre…
Funniest sub-genre name: “Handbag House” – a later derivative of the genre that was a more anthemic version of house played mostly in gay clubs, where patrons would dance around a group of their handbags.
From the discotheques that survived the downfall of the genre of their inception came the next wave of pounding bass drum electronic music.
The affordability of drum machines such as the genre-defining Roland TR-808 meant that it was no longer simply bands that could make music – this was the real dawn of the DJ, where they could produce and then spin their tracks live without having to worry about things like musicians or talent.
And so house took the reigns and DJs started producing their own songs, sampling older tracks to get their hooks and using the familiar “uhn-tss” beat to drive the tunes along and mix them into each other.
But with a genre this wide-spanning, it was only a matter of time before people decided they needed more specific defenitions for what they wanted…
Funniest sub-genre name: “Wonky Techno” – Techno that breaks from the traditional 4 on the floor beat structure and is more progressive and glitchy.
Detroit seemed to think that House music was lacking in Electronic-ness, so they decided to make their own genre. Techno took the pounding drums of house and plonked even more electronic lead synths over the top – making the songs sound as mechanical and synthesized as possible.
This resulted in a less human, more technological sound – the genre pushed synths to the limit, making the prices come down as they became more popular and electronic music opened up to even more people.
Incidentally, as happens with quite a lot of electronic music, techno is involved in a massive internet meme – “Techno Viking”.
If only the Norse Gods had blessed the vikings with some 808 drum machines, eh? We might all be speaking a different language right now.
Techno takes us through into the early ’90s, where we meet with it’s emotional offspring…
Funniest sub genre name: “Spugedelic Trance” – freeform psychadelic trance from Finland.
Taking a step back from the less melodic sound of techno and pushing forward into a genre that combined gorgeous melodies with restful yet powerful, emotional synth sounds, Trance took hold of the world and didn’t let go for years.
With the beginnings of computer music, Electronic music production was more accessible than ever, and thus trance music’s popularity and production expanded exponentially.
It grew throughout the 90s and spawned superstar DJs such as “Tiesto” and and “Paul van Dyk” who led the DJ into a new age of simultaneous respect and envy.
The mediterranean island of Ibiza was the breeding ground for the massive Trance raves, where mashed clubgoers could lose themselves in the euphoric buildups and breakouts that had become a staple of the genre.
This genre rose to popularity around the similar time a UK genre was exploding out of the underground…
Drum & Bass
Funniest sub genre name: Clownstep – a swingy, funny sounding DnB derivative, often used as an insult.
Quietly evolving in the basements of british producers from as early as the 80s, Drum and Bass found its sound and burst out into raves all over the place in the late 90s.
Finding a new beat to put behind every song (though there is more diversity in the percussion of DnB than that of any of the preceeding genres!), Drum and Bass contained a pace that hadn’t been found in clubs until the genre was dropped by the first pioneering D&B DJs.
The genre has only become massive and gained mainstream respect since acts like “Pendulum” have broken out of the underground scene and developed a more mainstream style of the genre.
…And let us hope it doesn’t end there. There are millions of genres and styles waiting to attack the clubs with some form of addictive synthetic style – things like Dubstep and Glitch Hop seem to be evolving into the next popular wave of EDM, but what of the more upbeat club music? Will DJs be forever spinning the same trance classics, or will some brave pioneer push out their own distinctive style into the world?
I can’t wait to find out.
Any other genres you think were intrinsic in the evolution of Electronic Dance music? Share your knowledge and opinions in a comment below!