Electronic dance music (EDM), also known as dance music, club music, or simply dance, is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres made largely for nightclubs, raves, and festivals. It is generally produced for playback by DJs who create seamless selections of tracks, called a DJ mix, by segueing from one recording to another. EDM producers also perform their music live in a concert or festival setting in what is sometimes called a live PA.
In the late s and early s, following the emergence of raving, pirate radio, PartyCrews, underground festivals and an upsurge of interest in club culture, EDM achieved mainstream popularity in Europe. In the United States, however, acceptance of rave culture was not universal outside of regional scenes in New York City, Florida, the Midwest, and California; although both electro and Chicago house music were influential both in Europe and the United States, mainstream media outlets and the record industry remained openly hostile to it. There was also a perceived association between EDM and drug culture, which led governments at state and city levels to enact laws and policies intended to halt the spread of rave culture.
Subsequently, in the new millennium, the popularity of EDM increased globally, particularly in the United States and Australia. By the early s, the term “electronic dance music” and the initialism “EDM” was being pushed by the American music industry and music press in an effort to rebrand American rave culture. Despite the industry’s attempt to create a specific EDM brand, the initialism remains in use as an umbrella term for multiple genres, including dance-pop, house, techno, electro and trance, as well as their respective subgenres.
Various EDM genres have evolved over the last years, for example; house, techno, dance-pop etc. Stylistic variation within an established EDM genre can lead to the emergence of what is called a subgenre. Hybridization, where elements of two or more genres are combined, can lead to the emergence of an entirely new genre of EDM.
In the late s bands such as Silver Apples created electronic music intended for dancing. Other early examples of music that influenced later electronic dance music include Jamaican dub music during the late s to s, the synthesizer-based disco music of Italian producer Giorgio Moroder in the late s, and the electropop of Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra in the mid-to-late s.
Author Michael Veal considers dub music, a Jamaican music stemming from roots reggae and sound system culture that flourished between and , to be one of the important precursors to contemporary electronic dance music. Dub productions were remixed reggae tracks that emphasized rhythm, fragmented lyrical and melodic elements, and reverberant textures. The music was pioneered by studio engineers, such as Sylvan Morris, King Tubby, Errol Thompson, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and Scientist. Their productions included forms of tape editing and sound processing that Veal considers comparable to techniques used in musique concrète. Dub producers made improvised deconstructions of existing multi-track reggae mixes by using the studio mixing board as a performance instrument. They also foregrounded spatial effects such as reverb and delay by using auxiliary send routings creatively. The Roland Space Echo, manufactured by Roland Corporation, was widely used by dub producers in the s to produce echo and delay effects.
Despite the limited electronic equipment available to dub pioneers such as King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry, their experiments in remix culture were musically cutting-edge. Ambient dub was pioneered by King Tubby and other Jamaican sound artists, using DJ-inspired ambient electronics, complete with drop-outs, echo, equalization and psychedelic electronic effects. It featured layering techniques and incorporated elements of world music, deep bass lines and harmonic sounds. Techniques such as a long echo delay were also used.
Hip hop music has had some influence in the development of electronic dance music since the s. Inspired by Jamaican sound system culture Jamaican-American DJ Kool Herc introduced large bass heavy speaker rigs to the Bronx. His parties are credited with having kick-started the New York City hip-hop movement in . A technique developed by DJ Kool Herc that became popular in hip hop culture was playing two copies of the same record on two turntables, in alternation, and at the point where a track featured a break. This technique was further used to manually loop a purely percussive break, leading to what was later called a break beat.
Turntablism has origins in the invention of the direct-drive turntable, by Shuichi Obata, an engineer at Matsushita (now Panasonic). In , Matsushita released it as the SP-, the first direct-drive turntable on the market, and the first in their influential Technics series of turntables. The most influential turntable was the Technics SL-, which was developed in by a team led by Shuichi Obata at Matsushita, which then released it onto the market in . In the s and s hip-hop DJs used turntables as musical instruments in their own right and virtuosic use developed into a creative practice called turntablism.
In , George McCrae’s early disco hit “Rock Your Baby” was one of the first records to use a drum machine, an early Roland rhythm machine. The use of drum machines in disco production was influenced by Sly and the Family Stone’s “Family Affair” (), with its rhythm echoed in McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby”, and Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together” (). Disco producer Biddu used synthesizers in several disco songs from to , including “Bionic Boogie” from Rain Forest (), “Soul Coaxing” (), and Eastern Man and Futuristic Journey (recorded from to ).
Acts like Donna Summer, Chic, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Heatwave, and the Village People helped define the late s disco sound. Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte produced “I Feel Love” for Donna Summer in . It became the first well-known disco hit to have a completely synthesized backing track. Other disco producers, most famously American producer Tom Moulton, grabbed ideas and techniques from dub music (which came with the increased Jamaican migration to New York City in the s) to provide alternatives to the four-on-the-floor style that dominated. During the early s, the popularity of disco music sharply declined in the United States, abandoned by major US record labels and producers. Euro disco continued evolving within the broad mainstream pop music scene.
Synth-pop (short for ‘synthesizer pop’; also called ‘techno-pop’) is a subgenre of new wave music that first became prominent in the late s and features the synthesizer as the dominant musical instrument. It was prefigured in the s and early s by the use of synthesizers in progressive rock, electronic, art rock, disco, and particularly the “Krautrock” of bands like Kraftwerk. It arose as a distinct genre in Japan and the United Kingdom in the post-punk era as part of the new wave movement of the late s to the mid-s.
Early synth-pop pioneers included Japanese group Yellow Magic Orchestra, and British bands Ultravox, the Human League and Berlin Blondes. The Human League used monophonic synthesizers to produce music with a simple and austere sound. After the breakthrough of Gary Numan in the UK Singles Chart in , large numbers of artists began to enjoy success with a synthesizer-based sound in the early s, including late-s debutants like Japan and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and newcomers such as Depeche Mode and Eurythmics. In Japan, Yellow Magic Orchestra’s success opened the way for synth-pop bands such as P-Model, Plastics, and Hikashu. The development of inexpensive polyphonic synthesizers, the definition of MIDI and the use of dance beats, led to a more commercial and accessible sound for synth-pop. This, its adoption by the style-conscious acts from the New Romantic movement, together with the rise of MTV, led to success for large numbers of British synth-pop acts (including Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet) in the United States.
The use of digital sampling and looping in popular music was pioneered by Japanese electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO). Their approach to sampling was a precursor to the contemporary approach of constructing music by cutting fragments of sounds and looping them using computer technology. “Computer Game/Firecracker” () interpolated a Martin Denny melody, and sampled Space Invaders video game sounds. Technodelic () introduced the use of digital sampling in popular music, as the first album consisting of mostly samples and loops. The album was produced using Toshiba-EMI’s LMD- digital PCM sampler, which engineer Kenji Murata custom-built for YMO.[better source needed] The LMD- was also used for sampling by other Japanese synthpop artists in the early s, including YMO-associated acts such as Chiemi Manabe and Logic System.
The emergence of electronic dance music in the s was shaped by the development of several new electronic musical instruments, particularly those from the Japanese Roland Corporation. The Roland TR- (often abbreviated as the “”) notably played an important role in the evolution of dance music, after Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” (), made it very popular on dancefloors. The track, which also featured the melody line from Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express, informed the development of electronic dance music, and subgenres including Miami bass and Detroit techno, and popularized the as a “fundamental element of futuristic sound”. According to Slate, “Planet Rock” “didn’t so much put the on the map so much as reorient an entire world of post-disco dance music around it”. The Roland TR-, TB- and Juno- similarly influenced electronic dance music such as techno, house and acid.
During the post-disco era that followed the backlash against “disco” which began in the mid to late , which in the United States lead to civil unrest and a riot in Chicago known as the Disco Demolition Night, an underground movement of “stripped-down” disco inspired music featuring “radically different sounds” started to emerge on the East Coast. [Note ] This new scene was seen primarily in the New York metropolitan area and was initially led by the urban contemporary artists that were responding to the over-commercialization and subsequent demise of disco culture. The sound that emerged originated from P-Funk the electronic side of disco, dub music, and other genres. Much of the music produced during this time was, like disco, catering to a singles-driven market. At this time creative control started shifting to independent record companies, less established producers, and club DJs. Other dance styles that began to become popular during the post-disco era include dance-pop, boogie, electro, Hi-NRG, Italo disco, house, and techno.
In the early s, electro (short for “electro-funk”) emerged as a fusion of electro-pop, funk, and boogie. Also called electro-funk or electro-boogie, but later shortened to electro, cited pioneers include Ryuichi Sakamoto, Afrika Bambaataa, Zapp, D.Train, and Sinnamon. Early hip hop and rap combined with German and Japanese electropop influences such as Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra inspired the birth of electro. As the electronic sound developed, instruments such as the bass guitar and drums were replaced by synthesizers and most notably by iconic drum machines, particularly the Roland TR- and the Yamaha DX. Early uses of the TR- include several Yellow Magic Orchestra tracks in –, the track “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa, and the song “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye. In , producer Arthur Baker, with Afrika Bambaataa, released the seminal “Planet Rock”, which was influenced by Yellow Magic Orchestra, used Kraftwerk samples, and had drum beats supplied by the TR-. Planet Rock was followed later that year by another breakthrough electro record, “Nunk” by Warp . In , Hashim created an electro-funk sound with “Al-Naafyish (The Soul)” that influenced Herbie Hancock, resulting in his hit single “Rockit” the same year. The early s were electro’s mainstream peak. According to author Steve Taylor, Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock serves as a “template for all interesting dance music since”.
In the early s, Chicago radio jocks The Hot Mix and club DJs Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles played various styles of dance music, including older disco records (mostly Philly disco and Salsoul tracks), electro funk tracks by artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, newer Italo disco, B-Boy hip hop music by Man Parrish, Jellybean Benitez, Arthur Baker, and John Robie, and electronic pop music by Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Some made and played their own edits of their favorite songs on reel-to-reel tape, and sometimes mixed in effects, drum machines, and other rhythmic electronic instrumentation. The hypnotic electronic dance song “On and On”, produced in by Chicago DJ Jesse Saunders and co-written by Vince Lawrence, had elements that became staples of the early house sound, such as the Roland TB- bass synthesizer and minimal vocals as well as a Roland (specifically TR-) drum machine and Korg (specifically Poly-) synthesizer.
“On and On” is sometimes cited as the ‘first house record’, though other examples from around that time, such as J.M. Silk’s “Music is the Key” (), have also been cited. House music quickly spread to American cities including New York City, and Newark, and Detroit—all of which developed their own regional scenes. In the mid-to-late s, house music became popular in Europe as well as major cities in South America, and Australia. Chicago House experienced some commercial success in Europe with releases such as “House Nation” by House Master Boyz and the Rude Boy of House (). Following this, a number of house inspired releases such as “Pump Up The Volume” by M|A|R|R|S (), “Theme from S’Express” by S’Express (), and “Doctorin’ the House” by Coldcut () entered the pop charts.
The electronic instrumentation and minimal arrangement of Charanjit Singh’s Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat (), an album of Indian ragas performed in a disco style, anticipated the sounds of acid house music, but it is not known to have had any influence on the genre prior to the album’s rediscovery in the st century.
In the mid s house music thrived on the small Balearic Island of Ibiza, Spain. The Balearic sound was the spirit of the music emerging from the island at that time; the combination of old vinyl rock, pop, reggae, and disco records paired with an “anything goes” attitude made Ibiza a hub of drug-induced musical experimentation. A club called Amnesia, whose resident DJ, Alfredo Fiorito, pioneered Balearic house, was the center of the scene. Amnesia became known across Europe and by the mid to late s it was drawing people from all over the continent.
By , house music had become the most popular form of club music in Europe, with acid house developing as a notable trend in the UK and Germany in the same year. In the UK an established warehouse party subculture, centered on the British African-Caribbean sound system scene fueled underground after-parties that featured dance music exclusively. Also in , the Balearic party vibe associated with Ibiza’s DJ Alfredo was transported to London, when Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold opened the clubs Shoom and Spectrum, respectively. Both places became synonymous with acid house, and it was during this period that MDMA gained prominence as a party drug. Other important UK clubs included Back to Basics in Leeds, Sheffield’s Leadmill and Music Factory, and The Haçienda in Manchester, where Mike Pickering and Graeme Park’s spot, Nude, was an important proving ground for American underground dance music.[Note ] The success of house and acid house paved the way for Detroit Techno, a style that was initially supported by a handful of house music clubs in Chicago, New York, and Northern England, with Detroit clubs catching up later. The term Techno first came into use after a release of a Records/Virgin Records compilation titled Techno: The Dance Sound of Detroit in .
One of the first Detroit productions to receive wider attention was Derrick May’s “Strings of Life” (), which, together with May’s previous release, “Nude Photo” (), helped raise techno’s profile in Europe, especially the UK and Germany, during the – house music boom (see Second Summer of Love). It became May’s best-known track, which, according to Frankie Knuckles, “just exploded. It was like something you can’t imagine, the kind of power and energy people got off that record when it was first heard. Mike Dunn says he has no idea how people can accept a record that doesn’t have a bassline.” According to British DJ Mark Moore, “Strings of Life” led London club-goers to accept house: “because most people hated house music and it was all rare groove and hip hop…I’d play ‘Strings of Life’ at the Mudd Club and clear the floor”.[Note ] By the late s interest in house, acid house and techno escalated in the club scene and MDMA-fueled club-goers, who were faced with a a.m. closing time in the UK, started to seek after-hours refuge at all-night warehouse parties. Within a year, in summer , up to , people at a time were attending commercially organised underground parties called raves.
Trance emerged from the rave scene in the United Kingdom in the late s and developed further during the early s in Germany before spreading throughout the rest of Europe, as a more melodic offshoot from techno and house. At the same time trance music was developing in Europe, the genre was also gathering a following in the Indian state of Goa. Trance is mostly instrumental, although vocals can be mixed in: typically they are performed by mezzo-soprano to soprano female soloists, often without a traditional verse/chorus structure. Structured vocal form in trance music forms the basis of the vocal trance subgenre, which has been described as “grand, soaring, and operatic” and “ethereal female leads floating amongst the synths”. Trance music is broken into a number of subgenres including acid trance, classic trance, hard trance, progressive trance, and uplifting trance. Uplifting trance is also known as “anthem trance”, “epic trance”, “commercial trance”, “stadium trance”, or “euphoric trance”, and has been strongly influenced by classical music in the s and s by leading artists such as Ferry Corsten, Armin Van Buuren, Tiësto, Push, Rank and at present with the development of the subgenre “orchestral uplifting trance” or “uplifting trance with symphonic orchestra” by such artists as Andy Blueman, Ciro Visone, Soundlift, Arctic Moon, Sergey Nevone&Simon O’Shine etc. Closely related to Uplifting Trance is Euro-trance, which has become a general term for a wide variety of highly commercialized European dance music. Several subgenres are crossovers with other major genres of electronic music. For instance, Tech trance is a mixture of trance and techno, and Vocal trance “combines [trance’s] progressive elements with pop music”. The dream trance genre originated in the mid-s, with its popularity then led by Robert Miles.
AllMusic states on progressive trance: “the progressive wing of the trance crowd led directly to a more commercial, chart-oriented sound since trance had never enjoyed much chart action in the first place. Emphasizing the smoother sound of Eurodance or house (and occasionally more reminiscent of Jean-Michel Jarre than Basement Jaxx), Progressive Trance became the sound of the world’s dance floors by the end of the millennium. Critics ridiculed its focus on predictable breakdowns and relative lack of skill to beat-mix, but progressive trance was caned by the hottest DJ.”
By the early s, a style of music developed within the rave scene that had an identity distinct from American house and techno. This music, much like hip-hop before it, combined sampled syncopated beats or breakbeats, other samples from a wide range of different musical genres, and, occasionally, samples of music, dialogue, and effects from films and television programmes. Relative to earlier styles of dance music such as house and techno, so-called ‘rave music’ tended to emphasise bass sounds and use faster tempos, or beats per minute (BPM). This subgenre was known as “hardcore” rave, but from as early as , some musical tracks made up of these high-tempo breakbeats, with heavy basslines and samples of older Jamaican music, were referred to as “jungle techno”, a genre influenced by Jack Smooth and Basement Records, and later just “jungle”, which became recognized as a separate musical genre popular at raves and on pirate radio in Britain. It is important to note when discussing the history of drum & bass that prior to jungle, rave music was getting faster and more experimental.
By , jungle had begun to gain mainstream popularity, and fans of the music (often referred to as junglists) became a more recognisable part of youth subculture. The genre further developed, incorporating and fusing elements from a wide range of existing musical genres, including the raggamuffin sound, dancehall, MC chants, dub basslines, and increasingly complex, heavily edited breakbeat percussion. Despite the affiliation with the ecstasy-fuelled rave scene, Jungle also inherited some associations with violence and criminal activity, both from the gang culture that had affected the UK’s hip-hop scene and as a consequence of jungle’s often aggressive or menacing sound and themes of violence (usually reflected in the choice of samples). However, this developed in tandem with the often positive reputation of the music as part of the wider rave scene and dance hall-based Jamaican music culture prevalent in London. By , whether as a reaction to, or independently of this cultural schism, some jungle producers began to move away from the ragga-influenced style and create what would become collectively labelled, for convenience, as drum and bass.
Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in South London in the late s. It is generally characterized by sparse, syncopated rhythmic patterns with bass lines that contain prominent sub-bass frequencies. The style emerged as an offshoot of UK garage, drawing on a lineage of related styles such as -step, dub reggae, jungle, broken beat, and grime. In the United Kingdom, the origins of the genre can be traced back to the growth of the Jamaican sound system party scene in the early s.
The earliest known dubstep releases date back to , and were usually featured as B-sides of -step garage single releases. These tracks were darker, more experimental remixes with less emphasis on vocals, and attempted to incorporate elements of breakbeat and drum and bass into -step. In , this and other strains of dark garage music began to be showcased and promoted at London’s nightclub Plastic People, at the “Forward” night (sometimes stylised as FWD>>), which went on to be considered influential to the development of dubstep. The term “dubstep” in reference to a genre of music began to be used around by labels such as Big Apple, Ammunition, and Tempa, by which time stylistic trends used in creating these remixes started to become more noticeable and distinct from -step and grime.
Electro house is a form of house music characterized by a prominent bassline or kick drum and a tempo between and beats per minute, usually . Its origins were influenced by electro, electroclash, The term has been used to describe the music of many DJ Mag Top DJs, including Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell, Skrillex, and Steve Aoki. Italian DJ Benny Benassi, with his track “Satisfaction” released in , is seen as the forerunner of electro-house who brought it to the mainstream. By the mid s, electro-house saw an increase in popularity, with hits such as the Tom Neville remix of Studio B’s I See Girls in (UK #). In November , electro-house tracks “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit” by Fedde Le Grand and the D. Ramirez remix of “Yeah Yeah” by Bodyrox and Luciana held the number one and number two spots, respectively, in the UK Top singles charts. Since then, electro-house producers such as Feed Me, Knife Party, The M Machine, Porter Robinson, Yasutaka Nakata and Dada Life have emerged.
Trap music (EDM) originated from techno, dub, and Dutch House, but also from Southern hip hop in the late s and early s. This form of trap music can be simplified by these three features: “/ hip hop (tempo and song structure are similar, most tracks are usually between – bpm) – with vocals sometimes being pitched down, / dance music – high-pitched Dutch synth work, Hardstyle sampling, as well as a plethora of trap remixes of popular EDM songs, and / dub (low-frequency focus and strong emphasis on repetitiveness throughout a song)”. Some of the artist that popularized this genre, along with several others, would-be producers such as RL Grime with the tracks “Core” and “Scylla” released in , Flosstradamus with their “Hdynation Radio” album released in and Carnage (DJ) with his track “Turn Up” released in . Trap music in this connotation was characterized by “soulful synths, s, the pan flute, sharp snares and long, syrup-slurred vowels” which created dirty and aggressive beats resulting in “dark melodies” Trap is now mainly used as remixes.
The earliest use of the term “electronic dance music” (EDM) was by English musician, producer, manager, and innovator Richard James Burgess in , whose single “European Man” with his band Landscape used the term on the back of the single’s record sleeve: “Electronic Dance Music… EDM; computer programmed to perfection for your listening pleasure.” Burgess is therefore known as having coined the term, as well as “New Romantic”. In response to a question about being credited with coining the term New Romantic in an interview with The Electricity Club, Burgess said: “Initially I was using three terms – Futurist, Electronic Dance Music (the Landscape singles have EDM printed on them) and New Romantic.” In the United States, the term was used as early as , although the term “dance music” did not catch on as a blanket term. Writing in The Guardian, journalist Simon Reynolds noted that the American music industry’s adoption of the term EDM in the late s was an attempt to re-brand US “rave culture” and differentiate it from the s rave scene. It has been described as an era of electronic music, being described in a MixMag article as being “the drop-heavy, stadium-filling, fist-pumping, chart-topping, massively commercial main stage sound that conquered America…possibly somewhere between electro and progressive house, directed by Michael Bay, and like many music genres, trying to pin it down exactly is like trying to grab a fistful of water”. In the UK, “dance music” or “dance” are more common terms for EDM. What is widely perceived to be “club music” has changed over time; it now includes different genres and may not always encompass EDM. Similarly, “electronic dance music” can mean different things to different people. Both “club music” and “EDM” seem vague, but the terms are sometimes used to refer to distinct and unrelated genres (club music is defined by what is popular, whereas EDM is distinguished by musical attributes). Though Billboard debuted a “dance” chart in , the larger US music industry did not create music charts until the late s. In July , Nervous Records and Project X Magazine hosted the first awards ceremony, calling it the “Electronic Dance Music Awards”.[Note ]
Electronic dance music is generally composed and produced in a recording studio with specialized equipment such as samplers, synthesizers, effects units and MIDI controllers all set up to interact with one another using the MIDI protocol. In the genre’s early days, hardware electronic musical instruments were used and the focus in production was mainly on manipulating MIDI data as opposed to manipulating audio signals. Since the late s, the use of software has increased. A modern electronic music production studio generally consists of a computer running a digital audio workstation (DAW), with various plug-ins installed such as software synthesizers and effects units, which are controlled with a MIDI controller such as a MIDI keyboard. This setup is generally sufficient to complete entire productions, which are then ready for mastering.
A ghost producer is a hired music producer in a business arrangement who produces a song for another DJ/artist that releases it as their own, typically under a contract which prevents them from identifying themselves as a personnel of the song. Ghost producers receive a simple fee or royalty payments for their work and are often able to work in their preference of not having the intense pressure of fame and the lifestyle of an internationally recognized DJ. A ghost producer may increase their notability in the music industry by acquainting with established “big name” DJs and producers. Producers like Martin Garrix and Porter Robinson are often noted for their ghost production work for other producers while David Guetta and Steve Aoki are noted for their usage of ghost producers in their songs whereas DJs like Tiësto have been openly crediting their producers in an attempt to avoid censure and for transparency.
Many ghost producers sign agreements that prevent them from working for anyone else or establishing themselves as a solo artist. Such non-disclosure agreements are often noted as predatory because ghost producers, especially teenage producers, do not have an understanding of the music industry. London producer Mat Zo has alleged that DJs who hire ghost producers “have pretended to make their own music and [left] us actual producers to struggle”.