Electronic dance music, sometimes called rave music or club music, is an umbrella term for a wide variety of percussive musical styles developed primarily for clubs, raves, and parties. The term “rave” (short for the phrase “rote” or “read”) was originally coined by the British artists who made it popular in the late seventies and early eighties. The first rave parties were organized in clubs in London’s east end. The original intent behind the parties was to organize socialized dance hours in which people would listen to music in the club while drinking and socializing. Today’s definition of electronic dance music is somewhat broader, although many traditional styles are still included.
While club culture slowly evolved into what is now recognized as electronic dance music (or techno, as it is more commonly known), early techno was built on the same principles as jungle and hip-hop. It was built on the basic idea that musical beats create a mood in the club, that they can be used to motivate participants in a way that isn’t possible with spoken word. “Space” is often mentioned in the genre, but it describes a point beyond where most club culture ends and techno begins.
One early electronic movement was called “EDM.” “EDM” stands for electronic dance music. “EDM” is itself a loose term that can encompass many different genres. However, the most common styles are house music (which is typically techno) and dubstep, which is a uniquely English take on a traditional form of electronic music. Other genres include French house, breaks (which are drum beats played on top of other instruments), goth and industrial music (often made on cheap, out of design synthesizers).
Disco is often considered to be what is electronic music; however, it’s not. Disco is strictly dance. It’s characterized by upbeat, short rhythms that are heavily accented by use of disco instruments. The most popular disco instruments are the hoover, the snare drum (sometimes the head of the hoover is replaced with a microphone to create a slightly distorted version of the original sound), the tambourine, the squall, the sousaphone, and the daisy.
Another well-known subgenre of what is electronic dance music is industrial music. Although industrial music began as a way to describe a style of music that was heavily influenced by industrial technology – such as the robot dance that was popular in Japan in the 1970s – it has developed into its own distinct sub-genre. Industrial music tends to be monotonic, repetitive, and filled with industrialist or ‘robot’ lyrics and imagery. A common symptom of this style is the use of ‘space’ as a prominent feature of songs.
One of the biggest challenges facing the music industry is what is now known as’Hardcore Punk’. This style of music emerged from the hardcore punk movement and has been defined by its loud, abrasive sound. Although early versions were often considered ‘street’ or ‘gutty’ music, the noise soon changed to something more refined and ‘edgy’. This shift from loud, abrasive vocals to heavy, aggressive drum beats has made the music even more popular with audiences. Hardcore Punk is quickly becoming one of the most popular genres of what is electronic dance music.
One of the other defining characteristics of what is electronic is the use of what is known as a deep house. A deep house is usually characterized by layers of compressed vocals combined with a heavy drumbeat. Deep house is quickly becoming one of the most popular subgenres of what is electronic dance music. Many consider this subgenre to be more danceable than other forms, since it uses more of a ‘step’ genre structure. Other characteristics of a deep house include a heavy use of sampling and a tendency to use samples from a number of sources, sometimes none at all.
Perhaps one of the strangest subgenres of what is electronic music is what is commonly called ‘trance’. While most people think of this term when they hear someone doing a gazelle ad-lib there really isn’t much in common between the two. A trance is defined by slow, hypnotic tempo, very distorted sound levels, extremely high levels of pitch variation, and an almost hypnosis like state of mind. While a trance can be used in conjunction with another subgenre it is often used on its own.