Electronic music hasn’t been around long in the realm of music’s timeline, due to the fact it has only been with technology that it came into being. What does the term Electronic Music mean exactly? Its formal definition is ‘music that employs electronic musical instruments and electronic music technology in its production’.
Others say electronic music is that which is composed using electronic techniques (sampling, synthesizing, filtering, etc) and the focus of the piece is on the electronic aspects. So vocals can be part of an electronic composition, but they need to support the other electronic elements. Other definitions state that it is any music made with any electronic device.
While electronic music started in the late 19th century with the ability to record music it didn’t become popular until late 1960s due to the availability of affordable music technology. Today electronic music includes many varieties and ranges from experimental art music to popular forms such as electronic dance music.
Electronic music became experimental in the seventies with bands such as The Residents and Can. The band Can was one of the first bands to use tape loops for rhythm sections and The Residents created a custom built drum machine. Other artists in the 1970s who composed primarily electronic instrumental music were Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Vangelis. More notorious bands of the 70s who were incorporating synthesizers into their traditional rock arrangements included bands such as Genesis or The Cars. In British realms, there is David Bowie and Roxy Music.
Successful hit electronic singles in the early 1980s included “Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode, “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League, “Whip It!” by Devo, and finally 1983’s “Blue Monday” by New Order, which became the best-selling 12-inch single of all time. There was also Prince, Peter Gabriele and Depeche Mode who featured synthesizers and gave electronic music a boost.
Today, within the electronic music genre, there are numerous styles, they include: Ambient, Breakbeat/Breaks, Downtempo,IDm, Hardcore Technology, Industrial, Jungle/D’n’B, Techno, Trance, and House.
Within each of these groupsigs are further subgroupings. Each style is identified by its beat. For example, Breakbeat is identified by its use of intricate rhythms for their drum patterns with heavy amounts of syncopation in a 4/4 beat with the bass hitting the 1st and 3rd beats and the snare hitting the 2nd and 4th beats. It is different from the steady beats seem in other styles such as house.
Computer technology and software has also helped the electronic music industry evolve. As technology and software becomes more advanced, opportunities for musicians or producers has increased.
Such tools provide viable and cost-effective alternatives to typical hardware-based production studios, and with advances in microprocessor technology, professionals say it is now possible to create high quality music using little more than a single laptop computer. These advances have lead to a large increase in the amount of home-produced electronic music available to the general public via the Internet. Artists can now also individuate their production practice by creating personalized software synthesizers, effects modules, and various composition environments. Devices that once existed exclusively in the hardware domain can easily have virtual counterparts.
There may be no end to the world of electronic music as more types of sounds are discovered through manipulating electronics and then reconstructing them into tempos. While electronic music may not have been around for a while, we may only be experiencing its very beginnings only to see it evolve quite significantly into the future.
Jeff Bachmeier is owner of 977music.com, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile. For more information please visit http://www.977music.com.