Electronic music

also known as
No alternate names, only misnomers




Too broad to say









Blanket genre that describes electronically synthesized music

Electronic music is a blanket term used to describe music that generally is made using electronic instruments (such as drum machines or synthesizers) or uses electronic equipment to make music (cuts or pitch shifting) and is typically not organic-sounding. It is sometimes mis-refered to as "Electronica" or "Techno." While Techno is a subgenre of electronic music, it is hardly an appropriate term to classify the entire supergenre as. Electronica on the other hand is a term for electronic music that came into popular use around the late 1990s, but is considered by some to be a media buzz-word which doesn't really mean anything [1]. Another common mistake people make when thinking about electronic music is that it is all Electronic Dance Music or EDM for short. However while EDM is one subgenre of electronic music, there are many other subgenres as well.


1800s and the early 20th century: The beginningEdit

One of the first occurences of music being electromechanically produced was in 1897 with Thaddeus Cahill's Telharmonium. However, Mark I of the Telharmonium weighed 7 tons, and Mark II weighed almost 200 tons so it was considered impractical [2]. It was, however, noted for it's ability to reproduce common instruments. Before the Telharmonium, there had been some other electromechanical instruments created as well, including Hipps' Electromechanical Piano (1867), Elisha Gray's Electroharmonic (1876), Melvin Severy and George Sinclair's Choralcello (1888) and William Duddell's fully electronic Singing Arc (1899) [3]. Another early electromechanical instrument was Leon Theremin's self-named Theremin (circa 1919-1920). The Theremin retained popularity throughout the 1960s and was featured in many songs that aren't generally considered "electronic." Yet another early electronic instrument is the Ondes Martenot, created by Maurice Martenot in 1928. It is still occasionally used today, notably by the band Radiohead.

1940s-1950s: Post World War IIEdit

After World War II, some artists and composers began experimenting by using different sounds and noises to make music. This was considered to be an avant-garde form of art and gave birth to electronic art music and musique concrète.

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1960s-1970s: The beginning of mainstream acceptanceEdit

One of the defining events that led to electronically produced music gaining mainstream acceptance was when Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire of the BBC special sound effects unit created the famous theme music for Doctor Who in 1963. The Beatles and The Beach Boys along with many other popular artists were also known to use electronic synthesizers in their music. Dr. Robert Moog came out with his first Moog synthesizer in 1964, and in 1971 he came out with his famous Minimoog Model D which was a hit with the mass market, and helped popularize synthesizers even more. Many rock bands, began using synthesizers in thier music even though rock and roll is not considered to be a style of electronic music. The famous electronic music group, Kraftwerk, appeared in the 1970s as well. Electronic music had started to become popular.

Late 1970s and the 1980s: An explosion of mainstream acceptanceEdit

In the 1980s, analog synthesizers were replaced by digital synthesizers and by the middle of the decade, samplers became affordable. Thus, popular music began to rely more and more on electronic equipment and whole new styles and bands emerged. The 1980s witnessed the birth of industrial music, electronic body music (EBM), synthpop, electronic dance music, and even the beginnings of techno and house music. New age music was heavily electronic during this time, with the rise in popularity of such artists as Vangelis and Kitaro. Other subgenres with strong electronic content such as space music and ambient came into being in this period as well.

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1990s-Present: The current statusEdit

The 1990s are notable for the rise of trance and breakbeat music. In the 1990s, it became fashionable to look down on the culture of the 1980s, including the music and so the styles of popular music from the 1980s died down although plenty of not so mainstream and mainstream styles kept going albeit more in the background. Trance music became popular among the club and rave scene, and hip hop/rap music greatly increased in popularity. Although breakbeat styles of music had been around since the early 1970s, they had never gained much mainstream acceptance (with the exception of the 1980s which is known as hip hop's Golden Age). By the 2000s however, hip hop was widely accepted.

Nowadays, electronic music proves to be harder and harder to define, because so much music has electronic elements. Most popular music incorporates synthesizers and electronic mixing, as does a lot of rock and alternative music. However, electronic music as a supergenre is generally taken to mean music that relies soley on electronics, samples and, optionally, vocals (however this is not a strict set of rules). As a supergenre, electronic music does not include rock and roll or other such genres because while they may use electronics in production, they were not born from the idea of electronically producing music. However, there are fusion genres which combine subgenres of electronic music with genres of non-electronic music. In general, however, music that is not considered "electronic music" specifically, but incorporates electronic instruments or is produced electronically can be called electronically produced music.

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