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A Guide To Electronic Dance Music

Updated on April 20, 2008

So many styles, so little time

With the invention of the 1st electronic synthesizer in 1876 by Elisha Gray ( that's right, 1876!! ), nobody knew where that invention would lead to in the future. Well ladies and gents, welcome to the world of electronic dance music, where synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers rule. I personally have been a techno dj and producer since 1996 and I have released electronic techno music all over the world in different mediums such as vinyl records, Cd's and digital downloads. I have opened my mind to other genres of electronic dance music such as house, trance, IDM ( Intelligent Dance Music ) and drum & bass. There are many sub-styles of those genres also but there are to many to list but maybe I will go into those in another hub. I will try to explain in my own words the different genres of electronica and list some popular artists of that particular style.


I have a soft spot for techno not only because its my favorite style of electronica but also because it was born in Detroit, Michigan and so was I. Known as the innovators of techno, the Belleville 4 aka Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Eddie Folwkes started creating techno music in the early 1980s. Little did those guys know what impact and influence the music would have in the near future. Techno music has a BPM ( Beat per minute ) of anywhere from 130 BPM to 155 BPM. If you need a reference, the 70's disco music was usually at 120 BPM. Techno is also created in a 4/4 time measurement which is 4 quarter beats in 1 measure. Techno is created by using electronic synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers or hardware. But nowadays anybody with a computer and a basic understanding of music can create any kind of electronic dance music with music creation software such as Reason or Native Instruments. Techno is usually heavy with the drums, especially the bass kick and high hats. Voice samples and snippets heavy with effects also are very popular in techno music. You might be saying to yourself, " yeah, but it so repetitive!! ". That might be the case with most techno music but you have to remember that a techno track that is being used in a dj mix like it supposed to be, then the track only plays for 2-3 minutes. If the dj knows what he or she is doing, then a techno mix can be very exciting and intense at any volume. Here are some top artists for techno music.....

  • Derrick May
  • Juan Atkins
  • Kevin Saunderson
  • Eddie Fowlkes
  • Richie Hawtin
  • Adam Beyer
  • The Advent
  • Dave Clarke
  • Carl Cox


House Music came out of Chicago in the early to mid 1980s and was influenced by the disco music of the 70's. The beat per minute for house is anywhere from 115 BPM to 135 BPM and has been created with real instruments such as a piano or a bass guitar. But the majority of house music is created using electronic hardware and of course, computer music software as I said earlier. House is also made with funky and soulful lyrics and basslines but voice samples and snippets are used from time to time to add another funky element to the music. There are also many sub-styles to house music but are too numerous to list and explain them all. Here is a list of popular artists in house music........

  • Frankie Knuckles
  • Jesse Saunders
  • Bad Boy Bill
  • Richard " Humpty " Vision
  • Chip-E
  • Mr Fingers
  • Jamie Principle
  • DJ Pierre
  • Adonis
  • Farley Jackmaster Funk


Frankfurt, Germany is the place believed to be the birthplace of trance music in the very early 1990s. Trancemusic has a tempo of anywhere from 130 BPM to 160 BPM and is also in a 4/4 beat measure. Melodic synthesizer phrases are used quite often in trance as are numerous build ups and breakdowns of the track. Voice phrases and samples are placed throughout the music to enhance the track. Computer software and electronic hardware like synthesizers, sequencers and samplers are used in the creation of trance. So if you like your electronica with heavy analog synth lines and rolling snare build ups, then this is the genre for you. Here are some top artists for the trance genre......

  • Paul Oakenfold
  • Armand Van Buuren
  • Tiesto
  • Paul Van Dyke
  • BT
  • Ferry Corsten
  • George Acosta
  • Lange
  • Christopher Lawrence

Drum & Bass:

Also known as " Jungle " Drum & Bass emerged from the underground of the UK breakbeat scene in the early 1990s. Drum & Bass is an offshoot of many styles and genres such as reggae, electro, hip hop and funk. The BPM is pretty fast, usually at anywhere from 150 BPM to 180 BPM. It is really more for listening like the IDM ( Intelligent dance music ) genre because of the speed and chaos of the drums and beat. The early form of Drum & Bass consisted of ragga vocals with broken beats and basslines and was known as " Jungle " in the UK underground scene. Later on in the 90's, the genre's name changed to Drum & Bassbut the djs were still known as " junglists ". But in the late 1990s, Drum & Bass broke out of the underground and became more mainstream. Nowadays, you hear Drum & Bass music everywhere you go including TV, movies and the radio. Drum & Bass is created from electronic music hardware and computer music software. One thing I always loved about Drum & Bass were the amazing and intense break downs that are incorporated into the track. Sometimes a MC will sing and rap along with a Drum & Bass dj set or live performance to add that extra " oommfffff' to the music. Don't get me wrong, it is possible to dance to Drum & Bass music but I like to just stand there and listen and bob my head to the beat. Here are some top artists for the Drum & Bass genre....

  • Goldie
  • Aphrodite
  • Ed Rush & Optical
  • Konflict
  • A Guy Called Gerald
  • Shy FX
  • Adam F
  • Bad Company
  • LTJ Bukem

There are sooooooo many sub-styles and genres to these styles of electronic dance music that I mentioned above but like I said.....there is to many to list and describe but i will list just a few to peak your curiosity......


  • Acid
  • Ghetto
  • Minimal
  • Schranz


  • Deep
  • Hard
  • Acid
  • Tribal


  • Goa
  • Acid
  • Progressive
  • Uplifting

Drum & Bass

  • Darkstep
  • Hardstep
  • Jazzstep
  • Ragga Jungle

That is only just a few and maybe I will write another hub about that later on but I hope this article can help you in trying to choose and listen to a particular style or genre of electronic dance music and knowing the details of each genre I mentioned above. I will add some helpful links and videos for your enjoyment. Thanks for reading.


Techno Music with Derrick May

House Music with Bad Boy Bill

Trance Music with Paul Oakenfold

Drum & Bass with Goldie


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    • profile image

      cho 5 years ago

      very thankful. i majored in classical music composition. for a long time i have wished to know the stem of electronica... your article is a very big shot for me.

    • profile image

      Cassidy Lerman 6 years ago

      Cool and helpful for the podcast I am creating on electronic dance music.

      checker out:

    • profile image

      cool 6 years ago

      i like the read

    • profile image

      Andy 7 years ago

      Dubstep!!!!!! 140 BPM

    • profile image

      thaman1 7 years ago

      I like Electronic dance music also. I like the videos you added cozmicat. Mostly i listen electric music on Nice hub posted keep it up.

    • nathanmiller profile image

      nathanmiller 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Cool hub, I actually learned quite a bit. Out of all the electronic genres, trance music is my personal favorite.

    • dauntlessdnb profile image

      dauntlessdnb 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      hey great hub! trying to cover electronic is absolute madness but you did it well! love Goldie - inner city life is magic!

      keep up the great work!

    • profile image

      Karen 9 years ago

      You've answered all of my Questions!!!!! Thanks. Normaly I buy all of my Electro/dance music on the internet, coz South Africa is a bit on the slow end for me. Thanks again.

    • ZipClip profile image

      ZipClip 9 years ago

      How come you don't say anything about break beats? You should check out the Stanton Warriors, Krafty Kuts, and Dekline.

    • profile image

      nytclubber 9 years ago

      great hub! i love electronic dance music!! i think you covered every bit about electonic dance music. keep updating this hub! thanks!