Your heart beats, you get a surge of energy, a smile crosses your face and you have the undeniable urge to dance and move. You look at the crowd around you, and everyone feels the same. Everyone is excited, happy and dancing as hard as possible.
That’s the effect the electronic music has on its loyal audiences. Electrical music, also known as electro or techno music, is typically made by using synthesizers and other electrical equipment. This genre is most known as EDM (Electronic Dance Music).
Electro Music: Explained
Electronic music was only made possible in the 20th century with the evolution of digital music. This genre uses electronic instruments and digital technology to create songs.
Who Invented Electronic Music?
It might surprise people to know that electrical music had its beginnings in the 1920s. A Russian musician named Leon Theremin created an instrument he called the theremin. This instrument could create electromagnetic fields that generated sounds at different pitches when a musician moved their hands around the instrument.
A Brief History of Electro Music
1940s-1950s: Electro music has developed every decade into something new. After the 1920s invention of the theremin, the 1940s and 1950s saw an explosion of a musical movement called the musique concrete. Pierre Schaeffer became an incredibly popular performer using this style in 1951 Paris, setting the foundation for electronic music around the world. Musique concrete is the practice of recording and editing music on shellac, splicing and editing music together using mixers.
The 1970s: In the 1970s, disco took over the world. Disco is a form of electro music, using synthesizers and vocoders to create uplifting dance music. Italian artist Giorgio Moroder is considered a pioneer in disco and electro music. He produced songs for artists, such as Donna Summer, David Bowie, and (more recently) Daft Punk.
The 1990s: In the 1990s, with the rapid development of new technologies, new subgenres of electro music were created. As records, CDs, and tapes made distribution of music widely available, electro music became popularized.
Present Day: Today, electro music has continued to maintain its popularity. Festivals, such as the Electronic Daisy Carnival (Las Vegas), Tomorrowland (Belgium), and the Ultra Music Festival (Miami), bring in crowds of hundreds of thousands every year. Electro music is frequently on the Top 40 charts, and many electro artists have seen mainstream success.
Tomorrowland is the world’s largest electronic festival. Here is a recap of the event from 2018 that gives viewers a true understanding of what it’s like to attend an EDM festival:
Subgenres of Electro Music
Electronic music has seen many subgenres develop since the early 1990s.
House is probably the most popular subgenre of electro music. This music is easy to dance to and uplifting. It’s frequently featured in commercials, Top 40 charts and at large electro music festivals. Examples of popular house music artists include Daft Punk, Steve Aoki and Deadmau5.
Arguably one of the most popular electronic music songs of all time is Daft Punk’s “One More Time.”
Trance is set apart from the rest of electro music by it’s higher rates of BPM (beats per minute). Typically, trance songs range from a BPM of 120s up to 160s. Trance songs tend to be melodic with a static beat. If there are words in the trance song, it’s a subgenre called Vocal Trance. Popular trance artists include Above & Beyond, Armin van Buuren and Tiesto.
Deep house music is a subgenre of house music that focuses on soft keyboard sounds, muted basslines and percussion elements. It’s considered softer electronic music with a tempo ranging between 120-125 BPM. Some popular deep house artists include Kygo, Kaskade and Jimpster.
Dubstep is an experimental subgenre of electronic music that’s defined by its overwhelming bass lines and repetitive drum patterns. The earliest known instances of dubstep music can be linked back to 1998 in London. However, it wasn’t until 2001-2002 when the term gained more mainstream success. Some recognizable artists in the dubstep genre are Skrillex and Bassnectar.
Electronic Music & Drugs
Electronic music has a history of drug abuse at raves and festivals. Often, electronic music is best enjoyed in crowds and with friends, as it brings on the insatiable urge to jump and dance around. Undeniably, the electronic music scene has adopted a strong drug culture. Attendees at electronic music festivals may find themselves experimenting with (or seeing others experiment with) alcohol, marijuana, MDMA, psychedelic mushrooms, LSD, cocaine and ecstasy.
One study surveyed attendees of EDM festivals. The results were that 75% report consuming alcohol at festivals, 13% have tried some form of MDMA, approximately 8.5% have taken psychedelic mushrooms and 8% have taken LSD at a festival.
Many of the electronic artists have spoken out against the drug use at these festivals. Popular EDM DJ Avicci died in 2018. He had developed pancreatitis due to excessive drinking. Towards the end of his life, he had stopped performing to focus on his health. Of course, electronic music didn’t cause Avicci to overdrink, but his job made it easier to excessively drink.
Popular EDM Artists Today
There are many EDM artists today that are considered mainstream, with their songs appearing on the radio frequently and achieving huge success. The top five richest EDM DJs are:
- Calvin Harris – $190 Million
- Tiesto – $150 Million
- Swedish House Mafia – $100 Million
- David Guetta – $75 Million
- Steve Aoki – $75 Million
Generally, electronic music is an uplifting and happy genre. It makes people want to dance, smile and have a good time. While electronic music does have a dark side with the excessive drug abuse association, it also has many positives. Crowds at electronic music festivals are kind and friendly to each other. The true goal of electronic music is to bring people together to enjoy music and escape life for a little while.