A Beginner's Guide To Electronic Music: From Scratching to Dubstep and Everything Between
|...among other things.|
And its interpretation is constantly evolving.
Because, even though it remains relatively new type of music, there remain some distinct differences between electronic production of the post-millennial era as compared to the music of the previous century. And it's all thanks to one thing, no doubt: The increased availability and affordability of computer technology.
As the digital revolution took hold over the last few decades, more and more electronic music began making its way into mainstream culture. It's not tough to understand why; people just started picking up the mixers and beat pads and saying, "Hey, I can do this too." As a result, we've reached a point in modern music where teeny-boppers and soccer moms alike jam electronic songs that previously would have been playing in a club.
Still, as technological progression continues, so does the progression of electronic music. The genre is diversifying every day, with new branches of sound and unprecedented infusions of music arising.
In other words: No, not all electronic music is techno.
So, as your prepare for the upcoming Identity Festival's stop through town at the Gexa Energy pavilion on Sunday, August 28 -- and, believe us, we're going to be keeping you plenty prepared for that festival -- we figured it high time to take a closer look at the slight differences in blips, womps and various tempos that help classify various performers into separate, distinct subgenres of electronic music.
Already lost? Don't be. Just hit the jump for our Beginner's Guide to Electronic Music, and we'll carefully navigate you through these robot-infested musical waters.
The Pre-Computer Days
Really, it was the infiltration of turntables that founded the electronic genre -- well before computers were the widespread medium for production. Turntables spawned several different methods of integrating the technology available into live performances, with several DJs even employing VJs (video jockeys) to play along with them. Each branch of pre-computer electornica can be defined by the following characteristics:
• Physical turntables and vinyl records necessary for production
• Records used as voice recordings, acting like voiceovers to the music
• The "scratching" technique of moving a record back and forth on a turntable while simultaneously working a crossfader
• Little or no bass, as compared to other genres
• More downtime between noises
• Modern-day artists include DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, Kid Koala
• The original "dance music" that infests your average "rave"
• Performed as one continuous DJ set as opposed to individual songs; meant to be heard all at once
• Tempo varies between 120 beats per minute and 150 bpm
• Modern artists include Deadmau5, Duck Sauce, anything played in the Top 40 these days
• Techno hybrid with a more "chilled-out" feel
• Aims to create an ambiance with mid-song breaks that let the melody stand alone
• Classic European form of electronic music; originated in Germany
• Tempo varies between 125 beats per minute and 150 bpm
• Modern-day artists include Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold
Drum n Bass
• Heavily influenced by jazz
• Pulls sound from acoustic instruments and can be played with a live (often super badass) drummer
• Subgenres include Liquid (more instrumental layers and harmonies), Darkcore (a little slower and darker), and Jazzstep (more of a focus on the musicality)
• Tempo varies between 160 beats per minute and 190 bpm (FAST!)
• Modern-day artists include Chase & Status, The New Deal, Photek, Noisia
• Uptempo dance music
• Has a contemporary disco feel
• Repetitive electronic rhythms grounded by a kick drum on every beat; short staccato chord loops
• Tempo varies between 118 beats per minute and 135 bpm
• Modern-day artists include Benny Benassi, Fedde La Grand, Swedish House Mafia