The History of Electronic Dance Music Until 2016

Human beings have lived to dance.

Traditionally, dances were performed at rituals and for entertainment purposes. Electronic dance music as the name suggests refers to a wide range of electronic music types. Such genres include disco, house, techno, breakbeats, trance, breakbeat, hip hop, ragga among others. Electronic dance music (EDM) is also known as club music or dance music. It is largely played in disco halls, nightclubs and festivals.

Most people would think that EDM is a term of the 21st century. The fact is that dance music has its history dated back in the 1970’s. At this time clubs and disco halls considered employing Dj’s as it was much cheaper than hiring a whole band.

Funk and up-tempo were types of soul music that were being played at first. One of such songs is “Say it Loud – I am black and proud” by James Brown which was released in 1968.

As at the 1970s, they started playing tracks that were easy to dance to hence the birth of electronic dance music.

The first of the EDM styles was the disco music genre. Discos all over the world played bands of the likes of Donna Summer, Nile Rodgers, and Bernard Edwards. By late 1970’s, people developed a negative attitude towards discos which finally saw people bring their disco records for destruction in an event dubbed Disco Demolition night at a park in Chicago.

In the early 1980’s, the word disco had faded and in its place was house music.

This was a new disco genre that was developed in gay clubs in Chicago and New York. It was named after a nightclub that was known as Warehouse where one DJ Frankie Knuckles was a resident DJ. He would remix traditional disco music with other dance records that were being created by local artists using more improved but cheaply priced musical instruments. These included drum machines, synthesizers, and early samplers.

In most house music, the piano was a central instrument. By mid-80s, house music had become a phenomenon. It could receive airplay by several local stations. Classical house music tracks include Can You Party by Royal House, Move your Body by Marshall Jefferson, Don’t make me Wait by Larry Levans and Your Love by Freddie Knuckles.

Other artists from the UK would later begin releasing house tracks. One of such was Coldcut in his track Doctorin’ the house. In the late 90s, Basement Jaxx released a hit single titled Red Alert which led UK’s second wave. House music has three subgenres which include Deep House, Acid House, and Tribal House.

An upgrade of House music emerged which was known as electro. It became a strong wave that swept over the hip hop scene. It almost entirely comprised of electronic equipment and basically relied on afro-futurism themes. DJ Afrika Baambaata best exemplified the style in his hit Planet Rock’ which he released in 1982. This hit was a combination of two different songs done in the 70s by Kraftwerk which resulted in a dance music of a kind that has remained classic to date.

This style was referred also as synthpop. Another genre would, later on, come forth which is known as techno. The term techno would be used to describe any electronically produced dance music. These were electronic tracks that were made by DJs using drum machines and synthesizers. Ten years later after the demolition of disco music, techno would likewise lose fame. Among the Techno classics are “Clear” by Cybotron, “Strings of Life” by Derrick May and “Big Fun” by Inner City. These were the main hits in the 1990s.

Techno also had a subgenre called trance which was developed in Europe in the 1990s. It is formed by techno rhythms being mixed with several layers of dreamy electronic sounds whereby on reaching climax, the beats stops and the layers of dreamy electronic sounds continue.

Techno was not as much celebrated by rock-loving Americans as it was in continental Europe. Various genres of rave were joined by relatively blending instruments such as drum and bass, Afro-Caribbean influenced sounds blended with tempo breakbeats and big beat which firmly brought together the elements of rock back into the electronic dance music piece.

This time it marketed more in the U.S. as electronica genre and specifically in 1999, electronica was the brand to sell by. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t live long just like its predecessors Disco and Techno.

However, this did not mean the end of music genres. In the early 2000s, hip-hop and country music stormed the music arena.

The fall of electronica was strongly felt. Those tracks that exclusively relied on the previously genres failed to gain traction. Despite being developed in the 90s, drum and bass is a style of dance music that progressed into early 2000s.

Mostly referred to as DnB, it is a blend jazzy breakbeat rhythms concocted with very deep bass sounds. It is fast and aggressive with 160 – 180 beats per second (bps). The most famous DnB tracks are “Timeless” by Goldie and “New Forms” by Ronnie Size and Reprazents.

Ronnie Size and Reprazents

Later in the mid-2000s, dubstep became the new genre of EDM developed from DnB. Although a bit slower, it is becoming increasingly popular thus pushing EDM into the limelight. Even those who do not have knowledge of electronic music genres have an idea now. It’s conspicuously unique sound is brought about by overwhelming bass drum lines and thumping. Its average beats per second is about 138-142 Which is made complete by manipulatable extension of the electronic bass note known as the wub’.

Similar to several other genres, dubstep also has sub-genres which include brostep which was created by a popular US DJ, Skrillex. It mixes dubstep breakbeats and sci-fi dramatic drops and effects. Other styles derived from dubstep are luvstep and thugstep.

The engine driving the popularity of EDM has been the multi-stage events of 100,000 people. There is a need to cast the net as wide as possible to attract a large number of fans to buy event tickets. This trend of change in genres from time to time gives fans a wider exposure to the music world.