When Electronic Music Started

Composers like Luening and Stockhausen began to experiment in the 1960s by creating compositions combining acoustic instruments with tape sounds; this became known as musique concrete.

In the 1970s, keyboard synthesizers became increasingly popular, leading to bands such as Lime, Men Without Hats, Propaganda or Sandra to produce italo-disco music with these instruments. New age music with strong electronic content also rose in popularity during this era.


In the 1960s, electronic instruments and music-making technology first made their debut into popular culture. Instruments such as theremins and mellotrons became mainstream tools among rock musicians; groundbreaking electronic genres like krautrock, disco and new wave emerged that used polyphonic synthesizers and programmable drum machines; this time period also saw algorithmic composition via computers emerging.

Electronic music had established itself firmly within club culture by the 1980s and had become highly influential to other musical forms, particularly techno, acid house, and trance – each becoming full-fledged subgenres of its own.

As technology advanced during the 1990s, electronic music gained in popularity and subgenres were added. Pop influences were added as were vocal tracks. Dance-style production techniques became common place; acts such as David Guetta produced chart-topping hits for Black Eyed Peas and other pop artists using dance production techniques such as David Guetta producing hit records that went number one on iTunes charts.

At that time, Electronic Dance Music or EDM came to symbolize an array of musical genres played at nightclubs. Since its invention, EDM has developed into an expansive cultural movement with radio stations, websites and magazines dedicated to it.

By the late 1990s, electronic dance music had become so widespread among youth that some even saw it as drug music. An incident in December 1987 when British DJs visited Ibiza to party at Amnesia club caused this perception; there they heard bass-heavy music made more enjoyable by the drug MDMA or Ecstasy.


In the early 1970s, music producers started experimenting with synthesizers and drum machines. Drum machines provided beats and rhythms while synthesizers produced various sounds – including basslines pulsing in time with each beat of drumming. These technologies led to new genres like disco and electronic dance music being created.

At the end of the decade, several notable artists had emerged, such as Donna Summer and George McCrae who recorded hits featuring synthesized backing tracks. Roland introduced its TR 77 Synthesizer into the market that year; this became an indispensable tool for music producers. By late 1973 disco had become popular in Europe and America due to its use of synthetic instruments; during that same year Kraftwerk released their groundbreaking album Radio-Active that would later influence contemporary genres such as Hip Hop, Post Punk Techno and Ambient music genres.

Radiodiffusion Francaise broadcast Pierre Schaeffer’s Etude aux chemins de fer for Radiodiffusion Francaise broadcast, making history by debuting what would later become known as musique concrete or acousmatic art – featuring instrumental performances augmented or supplemented with electronically generated sounds recorded via sound manipulation software.

This new technology led to an array of electronic instruments, such as the Theremin (first created in 1930). This device provided additional pitch resources, enabling composers like Charles Ives and Edgard Varese to explore microtonal music through its use.

The 1990s witnessed an unprecedented boom in electronic music, now an established form of contemporary pop. Subgenres including electro house and acid house also took hold; American DJs such as Skrillex took advantage of this trend and capitalized on its rise.


As electronic instruments became more available to musicians, more musicians began incorporating synthesizers into their music, ultimately giving birth to electronic rock as a musical genre. Kraftwerk, led by Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider-Esleben and featuring flutes alongside keyboards for their early krautrock albums to produce its signature repetitive electronic sound was one of the pioneering electronic rock groups; other pioneering bands included Yellow Magic Orchestra of Japan, Gary Numan and Depeche Mode.

Emergence of technology like the Moog synthesizer enabled more intricate electronic music composition. Composers like Toru Takemitsu and Minao Shibata made use of this type of equipment in their compositions, often exploring sounds which had never before been considered musical.

Karlheinz Stockhausen also explored electronic music during this time. He joined a radio studio in Cologne, Germany known as the Studio for Electronic Music to try his hand at something other than musique concrete – recorded sounds from acoustical sources – by creating authentic electric and acoustic sounds with sound-alteration techniques like filtering and modulation.

The 1980s also witnessed a flourishing of disco and other dance genres, giving birth to subgenres such as techno, acid house and trance. Partially attributed to MDMA’s popularity as an all-night party drug that increased intensity and tempo of music played at clubs and warehouse parties; this trend continues today through massive electronic festivals like Tomorrowland and Weekend Festival providing platforms for artists like Hardwell and Martin Garrix to reach chart-topping status.


As the 1990s came to a close, electronic music began its rise. Large-scale commercial electronic festivals became the norm and subgenres such as acid house, techno and trance saw rapid development. DJs also gained more respect among audiences who no longer simply saw them as sideshow acts at rock or pop concerts.

Pierre Schaeffer explored what was possible with electronic music with his Cinq Etudes de bruits compositions, using a disk-cutting lathe, four turntables and other electronic devices to craft sounds intended to be heard as whole pieces rather than piecemealed on a computer screen. Karlheinz Stockhausen who worked in Schaeffer’s Studio d’Essai and then WDR Cologne had another approach; he sought to combine acoustic instruments with modulated and filtered electronic sounds to produce “authentic electric plus acoustic compositions”.

These early innovations of electronic music inspired new styles like ambient and industrial genres. Additionally, this decade saw the birth of drum and bass; an electronic genre which incorporates elements from dance music, hip hop music, funk rock music, and rock music genres.

The 1990s witnessed the emergence of raves, underground dance parties featuring DJs and an eclectic range of electronic music. Held initially in warehouses or even illegally, these parties eventually developed into clubs and festivals popular today; these events even inspired several subgenres of electronic music like witch house and footwork.


In the 2000s, electronic music experienced a revival as American DJ/producers such as Fischerspooner, Ectomorph and I-f revived 1980s-style electro with new twists. Mashups also became increasingly popular, which combined vocal and instrumental components from multiple songs into one track. Their rise coincided with internet expansion allowing artists to more easily manipulate and remix their work; as a result this gave rise to minimalism in sound design that taught producers how to reduce wasteful techniques within productions and tighten designs within their works.

In the late 1970s, rock bands began incorporating synthesizers and electronic devices into their music, such as The Beatles and Beach Boys using oscillators on their guitars to achieve more psychedelic tones. Also notable is US producer Afrika Bambaata’s 1982 release ‘Planet Rock’ with TR-808 synthesizer usage which proved groundbreaking for electro music as it helped drive mainstream acceptance into popular culture.

Karlheinz Stockhausen was an electronic musician from Germany who explored rhythmic synthesis and serial composition techniques in his works such as Mixtur and Hymnen Dritte Region mit Orchester. These pieces used electronically generated sounds to evoke feelings of space and fantasy for listeners.

In the 2000s, dubstep emerged as an American subgenre from Britain. Characterized by slow tempo and deep bass frequencies, its roots lay in Jamaican dancehall and dub reggae as well as syncopated beats. Dubstep was initially popular in Britain before American DJ Skrillex introduced it stateside.