Ok, I am not a specialist on the history of music, especially in the electronic field. So, I will not attempt to analyse what is why or what brought us where we are today. Some elements are pretty obvious, but a lot of others are to be discussed. What I am able to do, and I will do for you today; is to collect all the different kinds of electronic music and brievely describe them. Why am I going to do this? Because it ould be useful to someone some day, and it is more like letting you see it by yourself.
Techno : Eletronic dance music the mother of pretty much all the other electronic music styles. Techno was developed in and around Detroit, in the 1980s. It emphasizes rhythm; It is a mainly instrumental genre, usually reliant on dj mixes. It utilizes a myriad of synthesizers, drum mahines, multi-tracking, and hardware sequencers. Its main tenets include the use of electronic instruments and the uniformity of a common drum beat.
House : Originated in chicago while DJs were experimenting with new editing techniques such as remixing, sampling and new electronic instruments like synthesizers and sequencers. Electronic groovy sound, low bass and the use of recognizable instrumentation like piano chords and soulful vocals. Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, Benni Benassi, Groove Armada, Fatboy Slim.
Acid House : Sub-genre of house music that emphasizes on a repetitive, hypnotic and trance-like style, often with samples or spoken lines rather than sung lyrics. The word to “acid” may be there in reference to the psychedelic drug LSD; making allusion to the trippiest sound of this genre of house. Some artists you may know ; Phuture, D Mob and Adonis.
Hard House : Heavier kind of house music that saw the day in the UK in the early 90’s. Up-tempo, compressed kick drums, off-beat basslines and the use of ‘hoover‘ type sounds. Faster and harder. Some key artists; Deadmou5, Teenage Badgirl and Lisa Pin-Up.
Drum’n bass : Type of electronic dance music which emerged in the UK, mid 1990s, in the breakbeat hardcore and rave scene. It came into existence when people mixed reggae basslines with sped-up hip hop breakbeats and influences from techno. It is characterised by fast tempo broken beats with heavy sub basslines. Some popular DnB artists; Pendulum, Amon Tobin, Noisia and Aphrodite.
Darkstep : (Also referred to as tech and techstep) is a subgenre of Drum’N Bass that emerged in the late 1990s. It is characterized by a dark, sci-fi mood, near-exclusive use of synthesised or sampled sound sources and influences from industrial and tehno music. High-energy collage from abstract, synthetic noises, including samples, bleeps and squelches: it rarely uses instruments that have not been processed by effects. Some artists in this genre; Dieselboy, Hemoglobyn, Black Sun Empire.
Dub : Form of music which evolved out of reggae in the late 1960s. It consists in a predominantly instrumental remixe of existing recordings. It is achieved by manipulating and reshaping the recordings; by removing the vocals from an existing track, emphasizing the drum and bass frequencies, adding extensive echo and reverb effects, and dubbing occasional snippets of lyrics from the original version. A few examples; High Tone, King Tubby, Roots Manuva, Mad Professor, Scientist.
Dubstep : It first came about around 1999 in the UK garage sene. It can be described to people who have never heard it as a blend of electronic music, some dark garage hints & clipped samples, with heavy metal and classical musical influences. Typically it consists of an abundance of overwhelming bass lines along with excess amounts of drum. Occasionally there are vocals mixed in with this. It belongs to the darkside of the moon. My favorite artists in this genre ; Rusko, Skream, Nero, Darkstar & Bassnectar.
Glitch Hop : It is a sub-genre of eletronica characterized by a deliberate use of glitch based sonic artifacts that would normally be viewed as unwanted disturbances. It first emerged in Germany, in the mid to late 1990s. Some glitch artists you might have heard; Glitchy and Scratchy, Ill-esha, Dewey dB, Ill Gates, Glitch Mob
Eletronica : Electronica includes a wide range of contemporary electronic music designed for a wide range of uses, including foreground listening, some forms of dancing, and background music for other activities. It includes dozens of stylistic fusions, but unlike electronic dance music, it is not specifically made for dancing. Röyksopp, The Chemial Brothers, Air, Moby, LCD Soundsystem are only a few examples.
Trip Hop : Type of dance music, played on electronic instruments with a slow beat. When guitars are used, they are used in a moderate proportion, while drums and vocals are the main focus. Unlike most sub-genres of electronic music, trip-hop has a mostly organic sound and rarely puts emphasis on the electronic aspect. It is some kind of blend of slow house, hip hop, rock and alternative music. Some of the pioneers of this genre are Portishead, Triky, Massive Attak and Morheeba
Jungle : It grew from hardcore breakbeats and acid house in the UK around 1992 with heavy influences from reggae and hip-hop. It’s dominant feature is a extremely fast tempo, heavy bass and complex, chopped up and recycled breakbeats. The term was first used atenatively with drum’n bass, but now it can be differentiated to modern drum D’nB through the overall song structure: drum and bass has an integrated percussion and bass structure while jungle has a distinct bass line separated from the percussion. Some examples of jungle musicians; JD Fresh, Venetian Snares, Ganja Kru and Psyhofreud.
Breaks : Popular name for Nu Skool Breaks, a term used to describe a genre of electronic music that emerged in the UK in the mid-1990s. Characterized by the use of break beat samples combined with elements from various other genres; including techno, electro, drum and bass, house, funk and hip-hop, at a relatively high speed (approximately 125-140bpm). Here are some of the most well-known names in this genre: Freestylers, Smalltown DJs, Stanton Warriors, Krafty Kuts, Deekline, The Crystal Method, Freq Nasty, Boyz Noise and Cut Chemist.
Break Beat : Term used to describe a collection of sub-genres of electronic music, usually characterized by the use of a non-straightened 4/4 drum pattern (as opposed to the steady beat of house or trance). These rhythms may be characterised by their intensive use of syncopation and polyrhythms. It all started the late 1970s and early 1980s when hip-hop DJs began using several breaks (the part of a funk or jazz song in which the music “breaks” to let the rhythm section play unaccompanied) in a row to use as the rhythmic basis for hip-hop songs. In the early 1990s, acid house artists and producers started using breakbeat samples in their music to create breakbeat hardcore, also known as rave music. In recent times, the term breakbeat has become synonymous with the many genres of breaks music which have become popular within the global dance music scene, including big beat, nu skool breaks and progressive breaks.
Big Beat : Sometimes called chemical breaks, this term was first employed in the early 80s in the UK, but gained more popularity in the mid 90s. It features distorted & compressed breakbeats at moderate tempos (90 to 140ish beats per minute), acidic synthesizer lines and heavy loops from jazz, rock or 60’s pop. They are often punctuated with punkish vocals and driven by intense, distorted basslines with conventional pop and techno song structures. Some well known examples; Propelleheads, Junkie XL, Prodigy and the Bloody Beetroots.
Trance : It was first developed in the 1980s. It is generally characterized by a tempo of between 130 and 160 BPM, featuring repeating melodic synthesizer phrases, and a musical form that builds up and down throughout a track. It often features crescendos and breakdowns. Sometimes vocals are also utilized. It sits on the trippy, hipnotic side of electroni music. Its music is almost always played in nightclubs and it is probably linked to the fact that a drum beat has the possibility to induce altered states of consciousness, aka a trance. Some trance artists; Armin Van Buuren, Infected Mushroom, Astral Projection, Push and Gaia.
Electroclash : Pop, new wave, electronic, underground sexy, synthetic sound. It incorporates electro, punk, pop, rap and rock elements. It was first introduced around 2000 as a reaction against the electronic music produced at the moment. Some of the most well known artists in this genre are The Peaches, Felix Da Housecat and Fisherspooner.
Electropop : Electronic music made with synthetizers. Simple and robotic sound, catchy lyrics and danceable beats. It probably emerged in the late 70’s or early 80’s and is most definitvely the grand-mother of a lot of today’s dance and pop music genres. Ladytron, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Hot Chip.
Electropunk : Also known as synthpunk; it is a genre of electronic music with a punk attitude. The guitars are replaced by synthetizers and the lyrics are often fast and obscene. Its political view is against the establishment. I like Warren Suicide, Le Tigre, Metric and Cansei de Ser Sexy.
Electro : Beats made out of samples, originally with funk ones. Very electronic sound (…) sometimes ressembling the funk breaks in hip hop music; but with a less human feel. Simple and catchy bassline. The lyrics if any will be hypnotic, weird and the voices monotone, robotic and often altered. Example : Digitalism, Justice, Simian Mobile Disco, Calvin Harris.