EDM vs Techno - The difference betwenn EDM and Techno

EDM vs Techno – The difference between EDM and Techno

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Okay folks, grab your glowsticks and dance shoes because we’re about to dive deep into the pulsating world of electronic music, specifically EDM and techno.

Definition of EDM and Techno Music

EDM, short for Electronic Music, is essentially an umbrella term (sort of like “rock” or “pop”). It encompasses a wide range of styles derived from electronic music intended for dancing. The birth of EDM is often credited to disco music of the ’70s, but its evolution, well, that’s a marvel in itself.

Techno, on the other hand, is one of the sub-genres nestled comfortably under that big EDM umbrella. It’s a genre that emerged from the ashes of post-industrial Detroit and is characterized by repetitive beats and synthesized rhythms. Basically, techno is to EDM what Thrash Metal is to Rock.

Got it? Splendid! Onward we dance.

Core Differences Between EDM and Techno Music

EDM: More than Just a Genre

EDM is not just a genre, but a culture. It signifies an era of music that’s come straight out of sci-fi novels with heavy reliance on technology -synths and software. The music is layered, these layers often contain samples, remixes, and digital beats. That sick beat drop you hear in an EDM track? That’s the magic of layered music and meticulous production.

EDM emphasizes melody and build-ups, filled with theatrical moments of silence followed by an explosive chorus. There’s often a prominent vocal presence. Dance-pop and synthpop are a couple of sub-genres that fall under the EDM label.

Techno: Minimal Beats, Maximum Impact

Techno is often perceived as more “underground”, the black-turtleneck-wearing cousin of EDM. The Techno genre prioritizes rhythm over melody, often opting for a sparser, sharper sound. The beats are hypnotic and repetitive, designed to immerse the listener in a state of trance on the dancefloor. Note: by trance, I don’t mean the EDM subgenre, but the ‘eye-closed-head-bobbing’ trance.

Sub-genres like minimal and dub techno further emphasize the genre’s commitment to a stripped-back sound.

Musical EmphasisMelody, layered, theatrical build-upsRhythm-focused, repetitive beats
Sub-genresDance-pop, synthpop, diverse stylesMinimal techno, dub techno, raw sounds
Vocal PresenceProminentLess prominent or absent
Cultural PerceptionMainstream, commercializedUnderground, niche
Tempo120 – 150 BPM120 – 135 BPM
Historical RootsEvolved from disco, synth-pop influencesEmerged from post-industrial Detroit
InstrumentsTR-808, TR-909, MinimoogTR-808, TR-909, Roland TB-303
Production TechniquesLayered, samples, remixes, digital beatsMinimalistic, focus on rhythmic elements
Notable ArtistsThe Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, MobyBelleville Three (Atkins, May, Saunderson), various underground artists
Dancefloor ExperienceEuphoric, explosiveHypnotic, trance-inducing
Differences Between EDM and Techno Music

History of Electronic Dance Music (EDM)

Origins and Development of EDM in the Late 1980s

The seeds of EDM were planted in the late ’80s when the music industry was oversaturated with pop and rock. Folks wanted something fresh. And well, they got it. Disco might’ve died in the late ’70s, but it was reincarnated in a form that was way cooler (and synthesized) – electronic dance music.

The term EDM itself was coined in the late ’80s by the US music industry and press, to describe a new wave of music that combined elements of synth-pop, house, and electro. It was like the love-child of Kraftwerk and Donna Summer. Cute, right?

By the time the 1990s rolled around, the Internet was a thing, and “dance music” was everywhere. New sub-genres sprang up faster than you could say “Untz Untz”, from the euphoric trance anthems to the glitchy experimental beats of IDM (Intelligent Dance Music, because yes, dance music can be smart too).

Some artists like The Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, and Moby, even ventured into big beat and trip-hop territory. EDM was constantly evolving and branching out, like a big, colorful musical tree.

History of Techno Music

Origins and Development of Techno in the 1980s

The techno train left the station in Detroit during the mid-to-late 1980s, pioneered by the so-named Belleville Three: Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson. They deftly combined the futuristic themes and sounds of electro with the up-tempo rhythms of House music. Pretty rad, right?

While the ’80s was about establishing the sound, the ’90s were all about exploring it. This was the era of minimal techno, a sub-genre that took the “less is more” approach – dropping the melody and cranking up the Rhythm knob to 11. There was also the raw, abrasive sounds of hardcore techno, which was like punk music on a hefty dose of caffeine (or any energy-booster, for that matter).

People on a Techno Party

Core Elements & Instruments Used in EDM and Techno Music

Common Drum Machines Used in EDM and Techno Music

Picture this: you’re at a club, the beats are pumping, and everyone around you is dancing. What are you hearing? Probably the kick from a Roland TR-808 or the snare from a TR-909. Both are iconic drum machines that defined the sounds of EDM and techno. The punchy and deep sound of the TR-808’s kick drum became a staple in EDM, while the TR-909 was revered for its iconic hi-hat and snare sounds in techno music.

Common Synthesizers Used in EDM and Techno Music

A synthesizer – or synth, if you’re cool – is the bread and butter of any electronic music producer. For EDM, the Minimoog was a gamechanger with its ability to produce fat basslines and piercing lead tones. In the techno corner, the Roland TB-303 was a favorite, recognized by its squelchy, resonant, and “acid” sound.

Samples used in Techno Music

Techno music relies heavily on a diverse array of sounds, rhythms, and textures to create its distinctive sonic landscape. Techno producers often utilize a wide range of Techno Samples sourced from various sources to craft their tracks. These samples can include drum hits, percussion loops, synth sequences, vocal snippets, and atmospheric effects.

Moreover, the availability of Techno Sample Packs has become a valuable resource for producers. These packs contain pre-recorded sounds and loops specifically curated for techno music production. They offer ready-made elements that producers can integrate, manipulate, and combine to construct their tracks, providing a foundation for creating immersive and rhythmic techno compositions.

Other Instruments Commonly Used in Both Genres

Effects units like the Eventide H3000 (famed for its lush soundscapes and pitch-shifting) and software plugins (like Logic’s ES2 or Ableton’s Operator) are invaluable tools for creating those sweeping pads and crisp, digital leads that characterize both EDM and techno.

Drum MachinesRoland TR-808 (iconic kick drum), TR-909Roland TR-808, TR-909
SynthesizersMinimoog (fat basslines, piercing lead tones)Roland TB-303 (squelchy, resonant ‘acid’ sound)
Effects Units & SoftwareEventide H3000 (lush soundscapes, pitch-shifting), software plugins (e.g., Logic’s ES2, Ableton’s Operator)Eventide H3000, software plugins
Production TechniquesLayered music, samples, remixes, digital beatsMinimalistic approach, focusing on rhythmic elements
Other Common InstrumentsVarious sample pads, MIDI controllersSynthesizers, samplers, MIDI controllers
Notable SoundsRich, layered, melodic elementsHypnotic, repetitive, rhythmic sounds
Typical Composition StyleMelodic build-ups, theatrical momentsRepetitive loops, emphasis on groove
Impact on Dance ExperienceEnergetic, explosive drops, uplifting melodiesHypnotic, trance-inducing, immersive beats
Elements & Instruments Used in EDM and Techno Music

Tempo, Beats Per Minute & Prominent Basslines of EDM vs Techno

BPM Range of Typical EDM Tracks

EDM usually sits comfortably in the range of 120 to 150 BPM (beats per minute). There’s an irresistible urge to dance with those faster-paced beats, right?

BPM Range of Typical Techno Tracks

Techno, being the funky rebel it is, slows things down a tad, typically operating between 120 and 135 BPM. The groove is deeper, darker, and cast around snappy, repetitive beats to cook up a sublime dancefloor experience.

Well, there you have it! A peek behind the curtains of the pulsating, vibrant world of EDM and techno. So go on, whether you’re headbanging to Skrillex or swaying to Richie Hawtin, keep exploring, dancing, and enjoying the magic that is electronic music.

Typical Tempo Range120 – 150 BPM120 – 135 BPM
Beats Per Minute (BPM)Faster-pacedSlower-paced
BasslinesOften prominent and melodicMinimalistic, repetitive, deep basslines
Tempo, Beats Per Minute & Prominent Basslines of EDM vs Techno

Techno Clothing and the Unique Techno Outfit

The world of techno isn’t just about the beats; it’s a culture that extends beyond the music. Techno enthusiasts often express their love for the genre through their fashion choices. The distinctive techno clothing and the iconic techno outfit reflect the vibe of the music and the underground culture it represents.

The techno outfit typically embraces a fusion of comfort, edginess, and individuality. It’s not uncommon to see attendees at techno events sporting a blend of futuristic and urban elements. Think bold, monochromatic looks, reflective materials, oversized silhouettes, and a touch of avant-garde.

Utility meets style in techno clothing, where functionality is key. Comfortable yet stylish footwear is a must for those endless hours spent dancing. Sneakers, boots, or platform shoes often take center stage, allowing enthusiasts to move freely on the dance floor while maintaining a unique aesthetic.

Accessories play a significant role in completing the techno outfit. Statement sunglasses, harnesses, metallic jewelry, and harness bags are popular choices, adding an extra edge to the overall look. Additionally, incorporating elements like neon accents, graphic prints, or glowing accessories can amplify the futuristic vibe synonymous with techno culture.

The techno outfit is a canvas for self-expression, allowing individuals to embrace creativity and freedom in their fashion choices, mirroring the innovative and boundary-pushing spirit of techno music itself.

Exploring More in the World of Techno

Looking to delve deeper into the world of techno? Check out my other articles where I explore the best 90s techno songs, highlight the best techno albums that defined the genre, and spotlight the pioneering best techno DJs who have shaped the techno scene. Discover the iconic tracks, influential albums, and visionary artists that have left an indelible mark on the vibrant realm of techno music.


In the pulsating realms of electronic music, EDM and techno stand as distinct pillars, each with its own vibrant history, defining characteristics, and unique sonic landscapes. From the euphoric melodies and layered beats of EDM to the hypnotic rhythms and minimalistic allure of techno, these genres have shaped the way we experience music and dance.

As we conclude our exploration into this dynamic musical universe, remember that these genres are not just about sound – they embody cultures, histories, and communities. Whether you find yourself immersed in the explosive drops of EDM or lost in the entrancing loops of techno, the magic of electronic music continues to evolve, transcend boundaries, and unite us on dancefloors worldwide.

So, let the beats guide you, the rhythms move you, and the melodies uplift you. Embrace the diverse tapestry of electronic music, delve deeper into its rich tapestry, and keep dancing to the ever-evolving symphony of EDM and techno.


What distinguishes EDM from techno music?

EDM emphasizes melody, layers, and theatrical build-ups, often incorporating vocals and diverse sub-genres like dance-pop and synthpop. Techno, on the other hand, prioritizes rhythm over melody, favoring hypnotic, repetitive beats, and a more underground, minimalistic sound.

Who are some pioneering figures in EDM and techno?

For EDM, artists like The Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, and Moby contributed significantly, while techno’s roots trace back to the Belleville Three—Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson—who shaped the genre’s futuristic sounds in Detroit during the ’80s.

What are the primary instruments used in EDM and techno production?

Commonly used in both genres are iconic drum machines like the Roland TR-808 and TR-909, along with synthesizers such as the Minimoog for EDM’s fat tones and the Roland TB-303 known for its distinctive ‘acid’ sound in techno.

How does BPM differ between EDM and techno tracks?

EDM typically ranges between 120 to 150 BPM, offering a faster-paced dance experience, while techno operates within 120 to 135 BPM, creating a deeper, darker groove with its slightly slower yet hypnotic beats.

How have EDM and techno evolved over time?

Both genres have evolved immensely. EDM branched into various sub-genres like trance, glitch, and dance-pop, incorporating new technologies. Techno explored minimalism and hardcore elements in the ’90s, constantly refining its raw, underground sound while embracing new sonic territories.