What’s Electronic Music?

whats electronic music

Electronic music is an expansive genre created using computer software and digital instruments like synthesizers and drum machines, enabling producers to compose, manipulate and arrange a range of sounds and styles.

House music fuses elements of rhythm & blues, funk and soul with four-to-the-floor beats to form an infectious mix widely popular throughout Europe and North America. Meanwhile, its darker cousin, techno features faster tempos and more intense drum patterns.


Electronic music may seem to have first emerged with the invention of synthesizers in the 1960s and 70s, but its history extends much further back. Manipulations of sound electronically dates back to early in the 20th century when composers searched for resources that could liberate themselves from traditional tonal thinking and reconstruct ideas along new avenues. At that time many devices such as Telharmoniums (an electrical organ devised in 1896), Hammond organs, Ondes Martenots (early electronic devices played by striking keyboards along wire) and Theremins were all being devised and experimentation continued well into 1920 – long after its debut!

In the 1950s, audio tape recorders became practical tools. At the same time, oscillators enabled electronic oscillators that allowed reproduction of various types of waveforms (such as sine waves, square waves and sawtooth waves) associated with electronic music – including sine waves, square waves and sawtooth waves – which formed many of its hallmark sounds. Composers such as Charles Wuorinen and Harry Partch utilized these instruments to break out from Classical-Romantic tradition and explore new areas of musical expression.

Throughout the 1960s, rock musicians experimented with electronics, adding haunting sounds to their music. The Beatles and Beach Boys used various electronic gadgets including theremin to achieve their psychedelic sound while experimental musicians such as Silver Apples added oscillators and synthesizers into their compositions. A modular synthesizer known as the Moog modular synth was introduced during this period; one significant instance being Wendy Carlos’s Switched-On Bach album which made use of this device.

In the 1970s, synthesizers became increasingly available and adopted into popular music genres such as krautrock, disco and new wave. Genres such as these utilized polyphonic synthesizers with programmable drum machines for musical expression. Electronic musicians like Aphex Twin and Tangerine Dream explored ambient jungle sounds redefining what we now consider electronic music; dance parties held across Europe were held using these technologies that eventually gave rise to the term trance music.


Electronic music encompasses an endless variety of sounds and production techniques. This guide aims to explore its numerous styles that comprise this genre, shedding light on how they have developed over time.

Early 1970s studios saw the introduction of synthesizers as studio instruments used for live performance and recording music, opening up an entirely new sound which quickly found favor with dance audiences and ultimately laid the groundwork for electronic music as we know it today.

Techno: This style of electronic music features repetitive four-count beats with soulful vocals that feature four count cycles and fast pacing, with emphasis placed on rhythm and repetition. Techno stands apart from other forms of music with its emphasis on rhythm and repetition as well as use of drum machines that mimic traditional musical instruments’ beat. BPM levels for Techno can range anywhere between 130 to 160.

Electro House: Electro House music blends elements of both funk and early hip-hop with synths and electronic drum machines, often featuring fast-paced bass lines with Tech-Trance synth melodies to accompany rapping. Electro House has been greatly influenced by Roland TR-808 drum machines; an example of their impactful combination with early hip-hop culture.

Ghetto House: Ghetto house, an electronic subgenre, is distinguished by sexual lyrics set to low-fi 4×4 or skipping house beats typically produced using Roland 808 and 909 drum machines. Ghetto house music also incorporates synthesized tom-tom sounds as well as samples such as vocal chops from films or TV programs; its typical tempo ranges between 115-130 BPM.

New Beat: This genre fuses elements from various other musical genres, such as electro, funk, and Detroit techno. Its signature pulsating basslines, clap-based drums, and eighties synths create an energetic vibe inspired by art house influences from that era – as well as recalling pioneering German band Kraftwerk’s groundbreaking work and Brian Eno’s experimental approach from Roxy Music.

Vaporwave: Vaporwave music is a satirical take on 80s and 90s computer ads and Internet culture, featuring highly stylised synths and digital percussion at 60BPM to 95BPM tempos.


Electronic music is an expansive and ever-expanding genre. It serves as an umbrella under which numerous subgenres reside; some may be widely known while others remain lesser-known. House, techno and trance remain some of the more recognized subgenres within electronica; but there are countless others ranging from hip hop and jazz to chillout and chillwave; with some exploring experimental forms like glitch music or avant garde electronica and others more traditional like disco or soul music.

As electronic music’s popularity increased during the ’80s, artists experimented with different sounds. This experimentation led to synth-pop being created; this genre featured synthesizers, drum machines, and sequencers. It became immensely popular, leading to artists such as Ultravox, Depeche Mode, and New Order rising to fame through this genre.

Around this same time, techno also emerged. This genre combined elements from hip-hop and funk music with 4-on-the-floor beats, without vocals or traditional instruments such as guitar or violin. Techno also utilized an 808 drum machine as well as Minimoog, Jupiter-8, and Juno-106 synths for bass and pads to produce its unique sound; today it remains one of the most beloved genres within EDM.

Trance music is an emotive and melodic genre of electronic music that often induces dancers into an altered state. Originating in Europe in the early 1990s, trance music is notable for its high-pitched lead melodies, intricate basslines, dreamy pads and chord progressions that often have spiritual overtones.

More experimental forms of electronic music include Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) and drone. IDM, or Intelligent Dance Music, incorporates elements of other genres like glitch, ambient, and avant-garde into its sound – Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Squarepusher are some of the artists known to produce this style of electronic music.

Trip-hop is another experimental genre, which blends hip-hop beats with dark and brooding textures more typically associated with jazz or trip-hop. Tik Tok users especially have been known to appreciate this music, with artists like Kygo creating tropical house music perfect for relaxation. Vaporwave has also become increasingly popular, being partly a satirical reimagination of 80s/90s computer adverts and early internet culture using elements from Ambient, Synthpop, Chiptune and Lounge genres to craft its unique sound.

Mixing and mastering

Mixing and mastering are often mistaken as synonymous processes; however, they require different skill sets for optimal results. Once a song has been mixed to completion (or mixed up to be ready for release), its mastering phase ensures it sounds its best across multiple systems, as well as standing up to competition from similar songs in its genre.

Mixing is the practice of taking multiple individual sound sources and combining them to form one coherent whole, using tools such as equalization and compression to balance out tracks against one another, add ambience with reverb or delay effects, and remove any noise from the final product. Mixing also refers to structuring an album or EP so that its tracks flow from one to another – this may involve carefully planning out track arrangements so they transition smoothly, or it could simply be more about choosing tracks based on emotion or mood.

Mastering is the process of preparing the final recording for distribution. This involves adjusting its overall volume, tweaking EQ settings and applying effects such as limiters to prevent it from exceeding certain levels that could cause distortion on certain playback devices. Depending on its final product form, a mastering engineer might also use other software to clean up audio on a technical level; when creating music for iTunes for instance, it must satisfy Apple’s high-quality requirements.

Mastering is like framing a painting. Once your mix is complete, it must be presented beautifully on any medium – streaming, vinyl, CD or even the few people still using MiniDisc! A mastering engineer can use equalizers and limiters to reduce out-of-range peaks before applying stereo imaging effects such as saturation. They will also ensure the overall mix has consistent loudness levels that will be audible across different playback equipment.