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The history and evolution of electronic music (and its subgenres)

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Electronic-music-history-and-evolution

After experiencing a financial fallout in 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the global electronic music industry seems to be enjoying a revival after the return of live performances. In 2021, the industry’s value topped $6 billions with, particularly, EDM musicians being on the list of the most in-demand creators. This guide will be dedicated to the history of electronic music, its defining characteristics and the most significant artists of one of the broadest music genres existing.

Characteristics of electronic music

Electronic music can be characterized as a genre of music created and produced by using electronic and electromechanical music instruments, various digital instruments or so-called circuitry-based music technology. Electronic music instruments include an electronic oscillator, theremin, or a synthesizer while electromechanic gear encompasses Hammond organ, electronic piano or electronic guitar.

Generally speaking, electronic music can be made from a very wide variety of sound resources, from basic electronic oscillators to diverse complex computer installations and softwares, to microprocessors. These sounds are recorded and edited on tape and then transformed into a permanent form that’s played back and reproduced by using loudspeakers, either alone or in combination with ordinary musical instruments.

The history of electronic music

End of 19th / beginning of 20th century

Development of first electronic instruments

1870s/1880s

Invention of phonograph

1925

Introduction of eletronic recording

1930-1935

Invention of audio tape and first practical audio tape recorder in Germany

1948

Establishment of first audio tape recorder for commercial use in the USA & invention of 'Musique Concrète' in France

1952

Development of 'Elektronische Musik' in Cologne, Germany

1959

Formation of Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center

1960s

Widespread establishment of electronic music studios across whole Europe and the US & rise of popular electronic music

1970s - late 1980s

Growth of disco and establishment of other subgenres, e. g. synth-pop, house, techno, acid house, trance, etc.

1983

Invention of Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)

1990s

Flourishing of the international 'rave' scene into what it is today

2001

Establishment of Ableton Live, a digital audio workstation

2000s-2010

Rise of large-scale commercial electronic festivals, e. g. Tomorrowland, Weekend Festival, Ultra Music Festival, etc.

2020

A huge financial fallout of global electronic music industry due to Covid-19

2021

Increase of the industry's value by 71% reaching $6 billions

Late 19th- and early 20th century

Although some claim that the first electrical music instrument, Golden Dionysis, was possibly developed in 1748, marking the birth of electronic music, the genre more probably originated, in the broader sense, at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. At that time, emerging electronics allowed for experimentation with sounds and, subsequently, with electronic devices, as well. As an outcome, a number of electronic instruments were developed, including Telharmonium (an electrical organ developed in 1896), and later, in the 1920s and 1930s, the Hammond organ (an electronic organ), ondes Martenot (an early electronic device played with keyboards or a ring along a wire), trautonium (an early electronic synthesizer) or the theremin (an electronic invention developed in 1930).

These early innovations were first used for demonstrations and public performances as they were in most cases too complex, impractical and incapable of creating a sound of any magnitude and depth. Later, with the invention of vacuum tubes, smaller, amplified and more practical instruments could be developed that were, gradually, featured in newly written compositions.

A turning point for the overall music industry was the invention of the phonograph (later known as gramophone) by, independently, Thomas Alva Edison and Emile Berliner around the 1870s/1880s. Phonographs were the first means of recording and reproducing audio files (the sounds could be captured and saved for future use) and marked the beginning of the recording industry that we know today.

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Phonograph, today known as a gramophone

Record players slowly became a typical household item, with electrical recordings, nowadays known as phonograph records, introduced in 1925.

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Record player

More experiments with record players and innovations followed in the 1930s leading to the development of sound speed adjusting and sound-on-film technology and the creation of sound collages and graphical sound. Such technologies were then used in the composition of the first movie soundtracks, mostly in Germany and Russia. In 1935, the first practical audio tape was invented, making an essential point in the historical development of electronic music.

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Audio tape

Tape recorders in 1940s and 1950s

Although invented in the mid-1930s, more development and improvements to tape recording technology had to be made. The first test recordings made in stereo were developed in 1942 in Germany but were brought to the USA right after World War II and the first tape recorder for commercial use was furbished in 1948. Composers used this new instrument for further musical experimentation throughout the 1950s. The main focus at the time was on the development of the technique and musical styles with a strong influence on avant-garde styles and music. After musicians and artists became more or less familiar with the tape recorder, many historically important compositions came to life, followed by the utilization of the medium in live performances.

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Tape recorder

Development of electronic studios

Musique concrète

After tape recorders gained their recognition, as well as financial support, back in Europe, the first well-established electronic music studios were established, mostly in government-owned and supported broadcast facilities. It was not until 1958 that American innovators could catch up with their European confreres in terms of studio establishments and further music innovations, both technologically and artistically.

In 1948, musique concrète, a unique practice and type of music composition was invented in Paris, France by two French composers, Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry, in the Studio d'Essai at Radiodiffusion Française (RDF). The Musique concrète technique was concerned with the creation of tape collages or montages of recorded sounds. All these sounds - e. g. sound effects, musical fragments, vocals, and other sounds or noises produced by an individual and their environment - were being looked at as ‘concrete’ raw materials taken from ‘concrete’ means and situations. Therefore, music concrète was opposed to the use of oscillators as they were considered ‘artificial’, ‘anti-humanistic’ and thus not ‘concrete’ sound sources

More than a style or a musical movement, musique concrète could be seen as a group of various ways of transforming sound and creating music, using techniques and tape manipulations such as speed alteration and variation (also called pitch shifting), tape splicing, playing tapes backward, or signal feedback loops. The first major musique concrète composition was Symphonie pour un homme seul (Symphony for One Man Only) written in 1950 by Schaffer and Henry. The other significant work of the movement was Henry’s ballet score, Orphée, from 1953.

Elektronische Musik

Karlheinz Stockhausen, who shortly worked in Schaeffer's studio in 1952, had a different idea of the ways sounds and music could be transformed and altered and therefore joined the WDR Cologne's Studio for Electronic Music established by Herbert Einer. Rather than ‘concrete’ sounds, Stockhausen emphasized the pure, electronically generated sounds and his focus was on electronic sound modifications rather than tape manipulation. What he wanted to achieve, through sound alterations, such as filtering and modulating, was authentic electric plus acoustic compositions, meaning acoustic instrumentations altered and accompanied by modified, electronically produced sounds.

This marked the birth of Elektronische Musik, a German branch of electronic music, which, as opposed to musique concrète, emphasized the greatness and ‘purity’ of electronic sounds and the necessity to combine electronic music with a serial composing that uses rhythms, ordered groups of pitches, and other musical elements.

Both Studio d'Essai and the Studio in Cologne set examples for electronic music studios of that time and were therefore widely imitated across Europe. Such a trend continued throughout the 1960s with many more studios being established in all major urban centers in Europe before reaching the culture of the USA.

American electronic music scene

The birth of electronic music in the United States most likely started in 1939 when a musician, John Cage, published his composition, Imaginary Landscape, No. 1, utilizing various mediums and sound sources such as two variable-speed turntables, frequency recordings, muted piano, and cymbal. No electronic means of production were used for the composition. Generally, however, the production of electronic music in the USA was rather plain and sporadic and this lasted until around 1958.

The only significant remaining work on electronic music in the country was two projects undertaken by Cage and two composers at Columbia University, Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky. Between 1942-1958, Cage completed Williams Mix (1952) and Fontana Mix (1958) and composed 5 more Imagery Landscapes, written mostly for RCA test records and percussion ensembles. He also formed The Music for Magnetic Tape Project along with other composers and members of the New York School including Earle Brown, Christian Wolff, David Tudor, and Morton Feldman. The emphasis of the project was on experimenting with the recording of both electronic and natural sounds while combining them with instrumental music, dance and visual arts.

The goal of the project led by Luening and Ussachevsky was to create a professional tape studio that would demonstrate the capabilities and musical possibilities of tape as a medium. Joined by Milton Babbitt, the two composers established the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (today known as Computer Music Center or CMC) in 1959 which has become the oldest center of electronic and computer music research in the USA. After 1958, more studios were being set up across the region of North America, including the Experimental Music Studio at the University of Illinois and the University of Toronto Studio in 1959. Such establishment of these facilities provided ways for both production and education in electronic music to evolve and move forward.

The equipments of electronic music studio were developing and changing, too, including various sound sources (sin-wave, square-wave, microphones, etc.), monitors and quality-control equipment (spectrum analyzer, oscilloscope, power amplifiers), recording and playback systems, routing circuitry and much more. With such studio gear, musicians and composers were able to record sounds, both electronic and microphoned, and perform operations such as modulation, reverberation, and filtering, to modify these sounds.

The influence of Japanese instruments

During the 1950s, Japanese electronic musical instruments started having a strong influence on the international music industry. Various Japanese manufacturers, such as AceTone, Korg, Matsushita, Roland, and Yamaha, were developing their own version of electronic music devices. These included percussion instruments, the Mini Pops (early drum machines), electric organs (e. g. Yamaha Electone) or synthesizers.

Particularly synthesizers and drum machines developed by the Roland Corporation were highly influential for the next few decades and the company itself was one of the most prominent players in shaping and forming popular music and electronic music into what it is today. Another important role in the development of electronic music was played by the company Matsushita (now Panasonic) which invented and developed the first direct-drive turntables which then led to the establishment of turntablism - the art of manipulating and forming sounds and creating new music, sound effects, mixes and other beats. The later version of Matsushita's turntables (Technics SL-1200) was widely developed by Hip Hop artists and was one of the most popular turntables in DJ culture. Moreover, the first all-digital synthesizers were released by the company Yamaha in 1983.

Late 1960s to early 1980s

Late 1960s saw the rise of popular electronic music and its merge with other musical genres, especially pop and rock, which led to the establishment of new genres. Renowned musicians of that time, such as the Beatles or the Beach Boys, started integrating electronic instruments, including the theremin or Mellotron, into their sound. Genres such as electronic rock and electronica were pioneered by the American duo Silver Apples and experimental rock bands, like White Noise and the United States of America, who were known for adding oscillators and synthesizers to their psychedelic sound. In the 1970s, electronic rock was also produced by a number of Japanese musicians, such as Isao Tomita or Osamu Kitajima.

Mood synthesizers became particularly popular among progressive rock bands, including Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes and Emerson. A whole new sub-genre of progressive rock, krautrock (also known as kosmische Musik) was born in West Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s, represented by prominent artists such as Tangerine Dream, Can, Faust, and, most importantly, Kraftwerk.

New-age music and ambient music, particularly ambient dub, were developed in the early- and mid-1970s by the impact of rising electronic art music. New-age music was strongly influenced by various, mostly European-born, artists, including French composer Jean Michel Jarre, German musician Klaus Schulze, or Greek songwriter, Vangelis. Ambient dub was pioneered by several Jamaican sound musicians as King Tubby, and later adopted by other international artists, like Dreadzone, the Orb or Ott.

After disco became highly popular (for a fairly short period of time) in the 1970s, late 1970s and early 1980s saw the emergence and rising success of synth-pop, featuring the synthesizer as the dominant musical instrument. The sub-genre was debuted and greatly influenced by musicians, such as Ultravox with the song ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ (1977), Depeche Mode with a track called ‘Dreaming of Me’ (1980) and New Order with their song ‘Ceremony’ (1981). Other key acts included Eurythmics, Duran Duran, Yazoo or Spandau Ballet.

Later, synth-pop became widely renowned across the world presenting new promising artists, like Lime and Men Without Hats from Canada; Propaganda, Sandra and Modern Talking from Germany or Yello from Switzerland and Telex from Belgium. The sound of synth-pop also became the defining feature of Italo-disco. The keyboard synthesizers became so widespread that even heavy metal rock bands were featuring them in their music. Bands including Van Halen with their track ‘Jump’ (1983) and Europe with the well-known song ‘The Final Countdown’ (1986) achieved great global success.

Additionally, significant for 1980s was the invention of Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), a technical standard that is to describe and standardize a communication protocol, the digital interface and electrical connectors between various electronic musical instruments, computer softwares and other related audio gadgets for recording, editing and playing music. MIDI was finalized in 1983 and the technology made the development of purely electronic sound much easier.

Late 1980s to 1990s

The wide success of synth-pop continued through the whole 1980s decade moving closer and closer to dance music, with the most prominent acts including Pet Shop Boys, Erasure and The Communards. However, the 1980s were defined mostly by the development and rising popularity of electronic dance music (EDM) and, gradually, its subgenres, like house, techno, acid house, trance, and many more.

In the late 1980s, EDM gained a reputation as a ‘drug music’ and the genre, nowadays used as an umbrella term for other subgenres, was taken up in clubs as well as many underground places, fitness centers, fields or warehouses, across Europe. In 1987, a British DJ Danny Ramplimg started organizing a weekly party, called Shoom in one of London's fitness clubs and soon such parties, often taking place illegally, spread to other European countries, most notably Germany. There, in the city of Frankfurt, another important sub-genre, trance, was born.

By the end of the 1990s, the ‘rave’ scene was resembling the way it looks today and the gradual development of EDM and its subgenres, allowed the musical style to progress and eventually become an essential part of the mainstream music industry like never before. Also electronica, an umbrella term for electronic genres intended for listening rather than strictly dancing, became popular on the British music scene. The most renowned artists of these subcultures were, for example, Astralwerks, The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, DJ Keoki or Sims.

Electronic music in 2000s, 2010s and today

The genre of electronic music in the 2000s and 2010s was strongly shaped by the technological advances and the invention and higher accessibility of computer technology and musical softwares. Not only that many technological innovations were introduced in the new millennium, such as CDs or DVDs (replacing vinyl records), but also other relevant products emerged on the market, such as the digital audio workstation (DAW) Ableton Live (2001) or the studio emulation Reason (2000). These devices have provided less complex, more cost-effective and viable alternatives to traditional hardware-based production studios and, therefore, it’s become possible to produce high-quality music simply using a bit more than a laptop computer. Particularly Ableton Live is considered as one of the first music applications to automatically beat match a song and has been widely used by DJs for shows and other live performances, as well as composing, recording and mastering a record.

The popularity of electronic music and its subgenres was ever growing throughout the first decade of the 21st century. Musicians and producers such as David Guetta, Daft Punk, Tiësto or Skrillex were receiving international acclaim and by the end of 2000s all renowned DJs were regularly performing at the biggest stadiums in both US (mainly Los Angeles) and Europe. Moreover, the 2000s and 2010 also experienced the rise of large-scale commercial festivals and parties, such as Tomorrowland in Belgium, the Weekend Festival in Estonia, Ultra Music Festival in Florida, or Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas.

As of today, particularly in 2022, the electronic music industry seems to be buzzing once again, even after suffering from a huge financial loss in 2020. The value of the industry has grown in a total of 16 countries, led by market share gains mostly in the UK and Germany. Additionally, recorded electronic music grew by up to 18% with physical format sales growing for the first time in 20 years and, also, artists’ and DJs’ earnings went up by 111%.

Subgenres of electronic music

As said before, electronic music is one of the broadest music genres that exist and it can be used as an umbrella term for more than 300-something subgenres. Below we’re looking at some of the most renowned subgenres of electronic music.

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2-Step

As a genre of electronic music and sub-genre of UK garage, 2-step, or also known as 2-step garage, is characterized by an irregular rhythm that misses a bass drum pattern that is very frequent in other electronic styles with a regular four-on-the-floor beat.

The 2-step sound, on the other hand, can be characterized by syncopated kick drums that skips a beat; a shuffled rhythm; or the use of tuplets/triplets that are merged with other elements of percussions. What’s also usual for 2-step is the use of female vocals.

Relevant artists: Craig David (feat. Artful Dodger), Dem 2, Dreem Teem

Acid

Acid house, or also known simply as acid, is a sub-genre developed from house music in the mid-1980s by DJs in Chicago, US. The style is defined by a soft sound and the bassline of an electronic bass synthesizes-sequencer by Roland (Roland TB-300).

Acid house became particularly popular in the UK where it was an essential part of local rave scenes. At the end of the 1980s, acid house became British mainstream and later had a strong influence on various pop and dance styles, including trance, hard core, jungle, techno or trip hop.

Relevant artists: DJ Pierre, Sleezy D

Ambient

Ambient music is a genre of music that highlights the tone and atmosphere of the sound rather than its traditional musical structure and rhythm. It may therefore lack net composition, beat and structured melody. Although a bit different from other electronic genres, ambient music was developed in the 1960s and 1970s when new musical instruments, like synthesizers, were introduced to the wider market.

With its development and, mostly, integration with other genres, many derivative subgenres were established, including ambient techno, ambient pop or ambient industrial.

Breakbeat

Breakbeat debuted in the 1970s (mostly in the US and the UK) and is known for its use of samples from early recordings of hip hop, jazz, R&B and funk. There is no fixed speed for breakbeats and the genre is rather characterized by a danceable rhythm and various audio effects, like hi-pass filters.

Starting 1980s, breakbeats were integrated into non-hip-hop genres and then in 1990s new subgenres were derived from breakbeat, including breakbeat hardcore, psychedelic breakbeat and nu-skool breaks.

Relevant artists: The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, Death By Vegas

Chill-out

Chill-out music describes a rather laid-back style of popular music that is characterized by slow tempos and a relaxed, ‘chilled’ mood. Generally speaking, it should refer to modern music that is intended for easy listening. Genres such as EDM, downtempo, dance, jazz, ambient, lounge, or hip hop are very often associated with chill-out.

Relevant artists: DJ Alex Petterson, DJ Jimmy Cauty

Eurodance

As a sub-genre of EDM, Eurodance originated, as its name implies, in Europe in the late 1980s. It’s known for its emphasis on use of rich vocals, often with rapped verses. The genre is furthermore characterized by cutting-edge synthesizers, strong melodic hooks and intense bass rhythm. Eurodance also combines elements of other genres, like house music, techno, hip hop and Euro disco.

Relevant artists: Snap!, Jam and Spoon, Intermission

Dance-pop

Dance-pop describes a popular music subgenre that developed at the turn of 1970s and 1980s. Generally, it refers to an uptempo music that is intended for both dancing in nightclubs and listening to on contemporary hit radio. Additionally, dance-pop can be characterized by uncomplicated and easy song structures, strong beats, catchy tunes and strong hit melodies.

Nowadays, dance-pop is a popular mainstream music style and, therefore, there are plenty of musicians and bands that create and perform in the genre. These include Katy Perry, Paula Abdul, Cher, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys and many more.

Disco

Disco is a globally known genre of dance music, as well as subculture, that debuted in New York, the US in the 1970s. It was the first genre that brought the idea of going to and dancing in clubs all night long. Disco is defined by a typical four-on-the-floor beat, string sections, horns, electric piano, synthesizers, syncopated basslines and electric guitars.

Throughout the 1970s, the genre gained huge popularity both in the US and across Europe, with the most prominent artists including ABBA, Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, Chaka Khan, Boney M and many more.

Other relevant artists: Giorgio Moroder, Village People, Sister Sledge, Thelma Houston

Drum & Bass

Drum & Bass (D&B) and jungle are genres of dance music that were developed out of the UK’s rave scene, as well as sound system culture in the 1990s. Both styles can be characterized by very fast, even rapid, breakbeats of 150-200 BPM (165-185 BPM for D&B), sub-heavy to heavy bass lines, vocal samples and synthesized effects.

While jungle has since evolved into two main branches - ragga jungle and jump-up -, D&B has three main sub-genres: heavy D&B, light and mainline.

Relevant artists: Leviticus, DJ Hype, Aphrodite, Blondie, Pendulum

Dubstep

It’s been said that dubstep originated in the early 2000s in South London and is therefore considered a rather new branch of electronic music. Yet, the early elements of dubstep could already be seen with the growth of the Jamaican sound system party scene in the early 1980s.

Also, this genre is defined by syncopated beats that have a speed of around 130-140 BPM, with prominent sub-bass frequencies and a break at half-time. After becoming commercially successful in the UK towards the end of the 2000s/beginning of the 2010s, dubstep’s popularity spread to the US, as well, spearheaded mainly by the American musician Skrillex.

Relevant artists: Skrillex, Major Lazer, DJ Snake, SLANDER

House

House, just like its derivative, acid house, originated in Chicago in the late 1970s, in a local gay night club, Westhouse. The genre was spearheaded mostly by DJs Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson and is characterized by a repetitive food-on-the-floor beat, a typical tempo of 120 BPM and the Roland Bassline Synthesizer TB-303.

While in its early stages, house was rather a mix of futuristic and synth-heavy Eurodisco, merged with genres such as jazz, soul and funk, in its later versions, it had a strong influence on pop and dance music and has developed into many more sub-genres, like future house (emerged in 2010s in the UK), deep house, garage house, leftfield house, melodic house (with a strong melodic, heavy sound), afro house, tech house, vocal house and soulful house.

Relevant artists: Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii

Electro house

Also derived from house, electro house is a genre of electronic dance music, typified by its heavy bass, in most cases in the form of buzzing basslines, and a tempo of around 130 BPM.

Relevant artists: Benny Benassi, Steve Aoki, Skrillex, Daft Punk

Electronica

The term electronica refers to both a rather broad group of musical subgenres that are purely intended for dancing and a music scene that originated in the UK in the early 1990s. In the USA, the term is to describe general electronic music.

The genre was developed particularly by technological advances and the establishment of many electronic musical instruments, including synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines and many more. As an outcome, electronica uses a pretty wide variety of styles and musical acts that are distinguished by overly strong electronic production.

Hardcore / Hard techno

Hardcore, also known as hardcore techno or hardcore house, is an EDM sub-genre of which origin traces back to early 1990s in the UK, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. It’s defined by faster tempos (160-200 BPM or more), distorted and intense sawtooth kick drums, synthesized bassline and often violent-themed and sounding textures.

Some of its derivative sub-genres are gabber, speedcore, industrial hardcore and breakcore.

Relevant artists: Sefa, Angerfist, Dr. Peacock

IDM / Experimental

IDM, as an abbreviation for Intelligent Dance Music (or also known as braindance), refers to a style of electronic music that is considered to be better suited for listening at home than dancing. It originated in the UK in the early 90s, yet the name of the genre is said to come from the US where the origin was inspired by the Warp compilation ‘Artificial Intelligence’.

IDM is described as a type of music focused more on individual experimentation rather than specific genre characteristics and encompasses texture and rather ambient soundscapes.

Relevant artists: Aphex Twin, Speedy J, The Black Dog, The Orb

Techno

Techno is by far one of the biggest genres of electronic music and a relevant sub-genre of electronic dance music (EDM). It was developed in Detroit in the mid-1980s and its key characteristics are a solid, steady four-on-the-floor beat ranging from 120-150 BPM and the use of electronic instruments, like drum machines (such as the Roland TR-808 and the TR-909), sequencers, synthesizers and digital audio workstations (DAWs).

The word ‘techno’ to refer to a type of electronic music was established in Germany in the early 1980s and by the end of that decade, the genre became very popular across whole Europe, mostly in the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. In Europe, regional variations and styles derived from techno were developed by the early 1990s, including acid techno, hardcore, bleep techno, deep techno or dub techno.

Relevant artists: Juan Atkins, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, Apparat

Trance

Trance music, often considered as a hybrid of techno and house, is a sub-genre of EDM that derived from the British new-age music scene and the German techno and hardcore scenes of the 1990s. The defining characteristics of trance is a tempo somewhere between 128-150 BPM, the emphasis on melody and repetitive melodic phrases and the use of tension and other elements throughout the track that usually reaches 1 or 2 ‘peaks’ or ‘drops’.

Furthermore, the genre is mostly instrumental with, mainly female, vocals, sometimes mixed in. There is usually no traditional verse/chorus structure. Over the years, trance was strongly influenced by other genres, namely techno, house, pop, chill-out, ambient, classical music or film music. As an outcome, new subgenres of trance were established, including progressive trance, psychedelic trance, uplifting trance or vocal trance.

It’s been said that trance made its first appearance in the 1990s in German nightclubs (particularly in the city of Frankfurt) before spreading across whole Europe. It gained global popularity with acts such as DJ Tiësto, Ferry Corsten and later Armin Van Buuren.

Relevant artists: DJ Tiësto, Armin Van Buuren, Nina Kraviz, Paul van Dyk

Trap

Trap, or also known as EDM trap, is another sub-genre of EDM (not to be confused with trap as the hip hop subgenre) that originated in the US in the 2010s. The genre combines the Southern hip hop elements of the ‘other’ trap genre with elements of EDM, like build-ups, breakdowns and drops.

Relevant artists: Bro Safari, DJ Snake, 12th Planet

Trip Hop

Trip Hop originated in the early 1990s in the UK, particularly in the city of Bristol. The genre has rather slower tempos and a psychedelic sound and combines the elements of hip hop and electronica and further elements of jazz, soul funk, dub, reggae, and R&B.

Relevant artists: Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead

Conclusion

Within a century, electronic music has developed into one of the most extensive music genres covering more than 300 sub-genres. In this guide, we’ve focused on these particular musical styles and dedicated a big part to the historical development of electronic music, which strongly shaped the overall international music scene.

If you’d like to learn more about one of the most successful electronic music sub-genres, electronic dance music, don’t hesitate to read our article on what EDM is and what characteristics it has!

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