Electronic dance music is, more than any other form of popular music, highly fragmented and disorganized. It tends to be very melodic, and the tempo is almost always fast-paced. Often, the beats are repetitive, and instruments such as the keyboards and drums are almost never included in the dance tracks themselves. This has led to some artists defining electronic dance music as an area in which creativity and inventiveness can be nurtured and appreciated, however, where producers and listeners can generally distinguish between good and bad tracks.
Electronic dance music is, in fact, wide enough to define many genres that people commonly lump together under the heading of EDM. Club music and hip-hop are two of the most recognizable EDM genres. Other well-known EDM genres include breakcore (which refers to trance and house), industrial music (which often includes heavy metal and Gothic music), noise rock, nu-disco, dance pop, rap, hip-hop, dance-step, techno, and goth/emo. As you might expect, there is a large overlap in many of these subgenres, especially considering that electronic dance music tends to draw from a number of different sources. As such, it can be quite difficult to find a particular electronic dance music track that fits the bill for you, but with some patience, you should be able to discern some of the more popular and important sub-genres.
Probably the most popular electronic dance music genres, as judged by sheer popularity, are house and techno. Both of these have had their fair share of major players try to claim them as their own, but it seems that recently, the house has been re-iscovered as a true epicenter of modern electronic music. Interestingly enough, house DJs and other performers are beginning to incorporate electronic dance elements into their sets, something that had previously been almost impossible. In addition to that, more traditional DJs are starting to incorporate house elements into their playlists (usually on non- DJs shows), and this trend is only increasing in popularity.
While techno and house music differ somewhat in terms of musical style, they do share some common ground in terms of complexity and technology. Both styles are characterized by complex audio sequences and sound effects. They also share a common vocabulary of over 80 basic sounds, which often serve to describe the composition of individual tracks. Although it may seem like electronic dance music is about endless techno beats, the truth is that it typically revolves around four basic sounds. These are usually referred to as ‘kick’, ‘opus’, ‘rum’, and ‘bass’. Typically, these are used to describe the music maker’s primary instruments, and to give general outlines and descriptions of the overall composition of the track.
Interestingly enough, another one of the many italo Disco subgenres is the ‘pop’ genre. Similar to the above subgenres, this particular genre typically focuses on the musical qualities of vocals. The tendency with this particular subgenre is to focus on the voice of the artist, adding a light touch of melody to the overall sound quality of the track.
Finally, the last main subgenre of electronic dance music falls under the realm of ‘Drone’. This term is loosely applied to cover a wide range of electronic dance music which is void of actual vocals. Common characteristics of this subgenre include an extremely tight tempo, a focus on repeating patterns and sounds, minimalism and an overall lack of complexity.
So which of the italo Disco, techno, pop, drone and house subgenres should you listen to? Depending on your preference, one or more of these can almost certainly be classified as a ‘great’ genre. Each of these subgenres has its own strengths and weaknesses, but overall they are very enjoyable. For example, it would be easy to label either Pop EDM or Electro-Disco as ‘easy listeners’ because they provide an excellent listen without being too complex. This type of electronic dance music usually tends to appeal to audiences who prefer an easier listen, so those looking for a simplistic listen might find this to be a successful avenue to pursue.
If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, then look towards the other genres of electronic dance music. A good example of this would be the breakcore subgenre which generally refers to hardcore trance and progressive house music from the early 1990s. While breakcore generally takes it easy and provides an interesting listen, it is also very popular with producers of EDM. With the production techniques of breakcore continuing to evolve, it is only a matter of time until new hop, pop, techno and drone styles will surface. Hopefully we’ll hear a lot more from these topics in the future!