Genres of EDM

From House to Drum and Bass: Understanding the Genres of EDM

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is a vibrant and ever-evolving genre that has captivated music lovers worldwide. With its infectious beats, pulsating rhythms, and innovative soundscapes, EDM has become a dominant force in the music industry. This article aims to shed light on the diverse genres within the EDM spectrum, exploring their origins, characteristics, and influential artists.

The origins of EDM and its evolution

EDM traces its roots back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when electronic sounds and drum machines started to shape the music landscape. Pioneers like Frankie Knuckles and Juan Atkins laid the foundation for what would become the electronic music revolution. As technology advanced, so did the possibilities for creating new and exciting sounds, leading to the birth of various EDM genres.

Techno: The Pioneering Sound of Electronic Innovation

Techno, originating in Detroit during the early 1980s, stands as a cornerstone of electronic dance music, revered for its futuristic soundscapes, repetitive beats, and innovative use of synthesizers and drum machines. Rooted in the industrial landscape of the Motor City, Techno emerged as a response to societal changes and served as a sonic exploration of the future.

Characterized by its hypnotic rhythms, minimalistic approach, and emphasis on electronic instrumentation, Techno embodies a relentless energy that captivates listeners and dancers alike. Its distinctive sound often comprises repetitive and syncopated sequences, layered with pulsating basslines, generating an immersive and evolving sonic environment.

Pioneers like Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson, often referred to as the Belleville Three, laid the groundwork for Techno’s evolution, experimenting with new sounds and production techniques. Their innovative approach to music production, blending futuristic aesthetics with danceable grooves, became the blueprint for the genre’s expansion.

Techno’s influence quickly spread across the globe, finding homes in underground club scenes and becoming a driving force in electronic music culture. Over the years, the genre has diversified, giving rise to various subgenres like Detroit Techno, Minimal Techno, and Industrial Techno, each with its own distinct characteristics and sonic nuances.

Renowned labels such as Underground Resistance, Kompakt, and Drumcode have contributed to shaping Techno’s evolution, nurturing both established and emerging artists while preserving the genre’s ethos of experimentation and innovation.

Techno’s enduring legacy continues to permeate contemporary electronic music, inspiring artists, producers, and enthusiasts across genres. Its ability to transcend time and evolve while staying true to its roots speaks volumes about its cultural significance and unwavering impact on the ever-evolving landscape of electronic dance music.

Exploring the different styles of house music

One of the most influential genres within the EDM umbrella is house music. Characterized by its repetitive four-on-the-floor beats, house music is known for its energetic and infectious rhythm. Within the realm of house music, there are several distinct styles that have emerged over the years.

Electro House: A Fusion of Electro and Techno

Electro House, a high-energy subgenre of house music, seamlessly blends elements of electro and techno, creating a dynamic and aggressive sound profile. Known for its heavy basslines, distorted synths, and pulsating rhythms, Electro House has become a staple in the EDM scene. Originating in the mid-2000s, artists like Deadmau5, Martin Garrix, and Zedd propelled this genre to the forefront with their electrifying tracks, dominating festival stages and club scenes worldwide. With its intense and driving beats, Electro House continues to captivate audiences, pushing the boundaries of electronic music.

Progressive house: the melodic and uplifting side of EDM

Progressive House offers a melodic and emotionally charged experience, characterized by its soaring synths, euphoric melodies, and gradual builds. Evolving from the early 1990s, this genre takes listeners on a journey through its uplifting and anthemic tracks. Artists like Avicii, Alesso, and Swedish House Mafia have crafted timeless hits that resonate with their emotionally charged atmospheres, making a profound impact on festival stages and radio airwaves. Progressive House stands as a testament to EDM’s ability to evoke profound emotions and connect with audiences on a deeper level.

Deep house: the smooth and soulful sound of electronic music

Deep House embodies a more laid-back and soulful side of electronic music, characterized by its smooth and mellow grooves, soulful vocals, and jazz-influenced elements. Originating in the 1980s, this genre creates an intimate and relaxed atmosphere, perfect for both dance floors and chill-out sessions. Artists such as Disclosure, Nora En Pure, and Maya Jane Coles have mastered the art of Deep House, infusing it with a blend of electronic and organic elements, resulting in tracks that effortlessly blend sophistication with dancefloor appeal.

The birth of acid house and its influence on EDM

In the late 1980s, acid house emerged as a subgenre of house music, characterized by its distinctive squelchy and resonating sound. The use of the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer gave birth to the signature “acid” sound, which would go on to influence various genres within the EDM spectrum. Acid house pioneers like Phuture and DJ Pierre paved the way for the electronic music revolution, pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.

Trance music: the hypnotic and euphoric genre of electronic dance music

Trance music is renowned for its hypnotic melodies, uplifting synths, and pulsating basslines that create a transcendent and euphoric experience. Emerging in the early 1990s, this genre aims to transport listeners to a higher state of consciousness through its entrancing beats and emotive melodies. Artists like Armin van Buuren, Above & Beyond, and Ferry Corsten have solidified their positions as Trance icons, curating mesmerizing sets and producing tracks that induce a sense of euphoria, unity, and emotional resonance among fans worldwide.

Drum and Bass: the fast-paced, high-energy genre with heavy basslines

Drum and Bass (DnB) is a high-energy genre characterized by its rapid breakbeats, complex rhythms, and deep basslines. Originating in the early 1990s, this genre maintains a frenetic pace, captivating audiences with its intense energy and intricate soundscapes. Artists like Andy C, Noisia, Joe Ford, and Pendulum have pushed the boundaries of DnB, delivering mind-bending tracks that blend technical mastery with raw energy, making it a staple in underground club scenes and music festivals globally.

Hardstyle: Raw Energy and Distinctive Soundscape

Hardstyle stands out as a high-energy and dynamic subgenre within the realm of electronic dance music. Originating in the early 2000s, it merges elements of hard trance, hardcore, and techno, characterized by its pounding beats, distorted synths, and intense melodies. This genre typically operates at a BPM (beats per minute) range between 150 to 160, setting it apart with its rapid tempo and relentless energy.

The driving force behind Hardstyle lies in its euphoric yet aggressive nature, often featuring energetic melodies followed by powerful, driving kicks. Notable characteristics include the employment of both reverberated and pitched kicks, creating a unique, impactful sound that distinguishes Hardstyle from other EDM genres.

Artists like Headhunterz, Brennan Heart, and Wildstylez have played instrumental roles in shaping and popularizing Hardstyle, becoming icons within the genre. Their pioneering tracks, characterized by their infectious melodies and robust kicks, have propelled Hardstyle into the spotlight of the global EDM scene.

Hardstyle’s appeal lies not only in its raw and powerful sound but also in its strong sense of community and unity among its fans. The genre’s intense, high-energy atmosphere fosters a unique connection between artists and audiences, creating an electrifying experience at festivals and events dedicated to Hardstyle.

As an ever-evolving genre, Hardstyle continues to push boundaries, with artists experimenting with new sounds and production techniques to keep the genre fresh and captivating. Its impact on the EDM scene remains significant, attracting a dedicated fanbase while influencing the broader electronic music landscape with its distinct characteristics and unrelenting energy.

Learn more about this edm subgenre in our article about what is hardstyle music.

Gabber: Raw Intensity and High-Speed Rhythms

Gabber, a subgenre originating from the Netherlands in the early 1990s, represents an extreme form of hardcore techno characterized by its relentless, high-speed beats, distorted basslines, gabber kicks, and aggressive soundscapes. This genre operates at extremely high BPM (beats per minute) ranging from 150 to 220, creating an intense and frenetic auditory experience.

What defines Gabber music is its emphasis on hard-hitting, pounding kicks, often with heavily distorted and overdriven sounds. These forceful, repetitive beats create a pulsating rhythm that drives the energy levels to the extreme. Gabber’s sonic intensity and rawness serve as a reflection of the hardcore and rebellious nature of its origins.

The genre gained a dedicated following in underground rave scenes, primarily in the Netherlands, where it became a cultural movement synonymous with youth subculture, distinctive fashion, and a sense of rebellion. Its fanbase embraced the high-octane energy and extreme nature of the music, creating a tight-knit community united by their love for Gabber.

Artists such as DJ Paul Elstak, Rotterdam Terror Corps, and The Prophet played pivotal roles in shaping and popularizing Gabber, producing tracks that exemplified the genre’s aggressive and unapologetic sonic identity. Gabber’s influence transcended its roots, leaving an indelible mark on the broader spectrum of electronic music, especially within the hardcore and techno scenes.

Though Gabber’s mainstream popularity has fluctuated over the years, its impact on electronic music culture remains significant. The genre’s legacy persists, with its high-energy, raw sound continuing to resonate among hardcore enthusiasts and influencing subgenres within the EDM landscape. Gabber stands as a testament to the unapologetic, boundary-pushing nature of electronic music.

Learn more about this hard edm genre in our article about what is gabber music.

Other notable genres within the EDM spectrum

Apart from the aforementioned genres, there are numerous other notable genres within the EDM spectrum. These include ambient music, tribal house, and even experimental forms of electronic music. Each genre offers its own unique sonic experience, catering to a diverse range of musical tastes.

GenreDescription
House MusicCharacterized by repetitive beats; includes Electro House, Progressive House, and Deep House
Electro HouseIncorporates elements of electro and techno; known for aggressive sound and heavy basslines
Progressive HouseFeatures soaring synths, euphoric melodies, and gradual build-ups; offers a melodic and uplifting vibe
Deep HouseSmooth grooves, soulful vocals, and jazzy elements; creates a relaxed and intimate atmosphere
Acid HouseEmerged with distinctive squelchy and resonating sounds; utilized the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer
TranceHypnotic melodies, soaring synths, and pulsating basslines; embodies euphoria and transcendence
Drum and BassFast-paced genre with lightning-fast breakbeats, intricate basslines, and relentless energy
Ambient MusicAtmospheric and ethereal soundscapes; provides a calm and introspective experience
Tribal HouseDraws inspiration from indigenous rhythms and percussions; creates a tribal and primal atmosphere
Experimental MusicPushes the boundaries of traditional music; combines unconventional sounds and styles
Some edm genres

120 Subgenres of EDM with examples

Producing Different Styles of EDM with Sample Packs

Producing Electronic Dance Music (EDM) involves harnessing various sounds and elements unique to each genre. Sample packs play a pivotal role in creating distinct sonic landscapes for different styles of EDM.

  1. Techno Sample Packs: For producers delving into Techno, specialized sample packs provide a treasure trove of industrial-inspired sounds, hypnotic rhythms, and futuristic textures. These packs often contain drum loops, synth patterns, and atmospheric elements essential for crafting authentic Techno tracks.
  2. House Samples: House music production benefits from sample packs offering diverse four-on-the-floor beats, energetic rhythms, and melodic elements. These packs include basslines, percussion loops, and catchy hooks crucial in shaping the vibrant essence of House music.
  3. Trance Sample Packs: Crafting Trance music necessitates ethereal melodies, uplifting synths, and pulsating basslines. Trance sample packs offer a collection of arpeggios, pads, and celestial sounds, empowering producers to create entrancing compositions synonymous with the genre.
  4. Hardstyle Sample Packs: For the high-energy realm of Hardstyle, specialized sample packs provide thunderous kicks, aggressive synths, and intense melodies. These packs offer distorted basslines, impactful kicks, and unique sounds intrinsic to the genre’s relentless energy.

Utilizing these genre-specific sample packs allows producers to access the essential building blocks necessary to authentically capture the essence and vibe of each EDM genre during the music production process.

The impact of electronic music festivals on the EDM scene

Electronic music festivals have played a pivotal role in shaping and popularizing EDM genres. From the legendary Tomorrowland in Belgium to the iconic Ultra Music Festival in Miami, these festivals have become a mecca for EDM enthusiasts worldwide. They provide a platform for both established and emerging artists to showcase their talent and connect with their fans on a deeper level.

Prominent artists in the EDM industry and their contributions

The EDM industry boasts a plethora of talented artists who have made significant contributions to the genre. From pioneers like Kraftwerk and Daft Punk to modern-day icons like Skrillex and Calvin Harris, these artists have pushed the boundaries of electronic music, constantly innovating and reinventing themselves.

DJ Playing EDM Music on Festival
DJ Playing EDM Music on Festival

These influential artists have left an indelible mark on the EDM landscape through their distinctive styles, groundbreaking productions, and trailblazing performances. Kraftwerk, the German electronic music pioneers, laid the groundwork for the genre with their innovative use of synthesizers and futuristic soundscapes, influencing generations of electronic musicians. Daft Punk revolutionized dance music, blending house, funk, and pop elements, and their iconic albums like “Discovery” and “Random Access Memories” remain touchstones of electronic music.

Skrillex emerged as a defining figure in the dubstep scene, introducing a new wave of aggressive, bass-heavy sounds, reshaping the genre’s trajectory. His Grammy-winning releases and collaborations expanded the genre’s reach, garnering mainstream attention.

Calvin Harris, known for his chart-topping hits and vibrant performances, transcended EDM boundaries, infusing pop elements into his music. His crossover success and production prowess made him a household name, setting benchmarks for the integration of electronic and pop music.

Other noteworthy figures include Diplo, known for his diverse collaborations and boundary-pushing productions, and Deadmau5, renowned for his intricate melodies and innovative live performances. Artists like Avicii, with his infectious melodies, and Tiësto, a trailblazer in progressive trance, also deserve mention for their profound impact on the genre’s evolution.

These artists’ contributions have shaped EDM into a multifaceted genre, showcasing its versatility and influencing contemporary music across various genres and platforms. Their visionary artistry and relentless dedication continue to inspire both aspiring and established artists within the EDM sphere.

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The role of record labels in shaping EDM genres

Record labels have played a crucial role in the development and popularization of EDM genres. Labels such as Spinnin’ Records and Anjunabeats have been instrumental in discovering and nurturing new talent, providing a platform for artists to showcase their music to a global audience.

These influential record labels act as catalysts for the EDM industry, fostering a nurturing environment where emerging talents find support, guidance, and exposure. Spinnin’ Records, renowned for its diverse roster, has been pivotal in identifying and promoting emerging artists across various sub-genres, contributing to the proliferation of electronic dance music on a global scale. Their platform has served as a launching pad for artists, propelling them into the spotlight and enabling them to connect with a vast and diverse audience.

Anjunabeats, founded by Above & Beyond, stands as a testament to the label’s commitment to quality and innovation within the trance and progressive house realms. It has not only provided a platform for established artists but has also been instrumental in nurturing new talents, shaping the sonic landscape of these genres and cultivating a loyal fan base.

Moreover, these labels go beyond just offering a platform; they provide invaluable resources, mentorship, and a network that helps artists refine their craft, experiment with new sounds, and reach new heights in their careers. Additionally, they facilitate collaborations among artists, further enriching the diversity and creativity within the EDM scene.

Beyond Spinnin’ Records and Anjunabeats, labels like Monstercat, Armada Music, and OWSLA have also significantly contributed to the genre’s evolution. Their dedication to fostering innovation and creativity has continuously pushed boundaries, resulting in a vibrant and constantly evolving EDM landscape.

In essence, these record labels serve as pillars of support for the EDM community, enabling artists to thrive, experiment, and contribute to the genre’s ever-expanding spectrum. Their role in shaping EDM genres cannot be overstated, as they continue to pave the way for the genre’s future by discovering, nurturing, and promoting exceptional talent.

Exploring the influence of electronic sounds and drum machines

The advent of electronic sounds and drum machines revolutionized the music industry, giving rise to the diverse range of EDM genres we know today. These technological advancements allowed artists to experiment with new sounds, creating unique and groundbreaking tracks that pushed the boundaries of traditional music.

How to identify and appreciate different electronic music genres

With the vast array of electronic music genres available, it can be overwhelming for newcomers to navigate the EDM landscape. However, by familiarizing oneself with the distinct characteristics of each genre and exploring the works of influential artists, one can develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of EDM’s diverse range of styles.

Conclusion: Embracing the diversity of EDM and its genres

In conclusion, the world of EDM is a rich and diverse tapestry of genres, each offering a unique sonic experience. From the energetic beats of electro house to the melodic and uplifting sounds of progressive house, EDM has something for everyone. By embracing the diversity of EDM and exploring its various genres, one can truly appreciate the artistry and innovation that goes into creating electronic dance music.

Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the world of EDM, there’s always something exciting to discover. So put on your headphones, turn up the volume, and let the diverse genres of EDM transport you to a whole new world of electronic beats and pulsating rhythms. Start exploring today!

FAQ

What are the different genres within EDM?

Various genres within EDM include house music (e.g., electro, progressive, deep), trance, drum and bass, ambient, tribal house, and experimental, each offering distinct rhythms and characteristics.

Who are some notable artists in the EDM industry?

Iconic figures like Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Avicii, Armin van Buuren, Deadmau5, and Daft Punk have significantly influenced and shaped the EDM landscape.

How do electronic music festivals impact the EDM scene?

Electronic music festivals like Tomorrowland and Ultra Music Festival serve as global platforms, uniting artists and fans, fostering artist exposure, and catalyzing trends, elevating the EDM scene’s energy and innovation.

What role do record labels play in shaping EDM genres?

Record labels such as Spinnin’ Records and Anjunabeats scout, support, and promote budding talents, facilitating exposure and development, thus molding and popularizing diverse EDM genres.

How can one identify and appreciate different electronic music genres?

Recognizing distinct traits like beats, melodies, and rhythms, exploring influential artists’ works, and staying curious and open-minded aid in discerning and enjoying the array of electronic music genres available.