Dance music originated during the 1970s with disco. This genre included string sections, horns and electric piano as well as the traditional four-on-the-floor beat.
By the early 80s, Chicago and Detroit had witnessed the birth of house music – combining elements of disco with drum machines and synthesizers to form this new genre of dance music known as house.
Disco was a genre of music popular in nightclubs, radio stations, shows, raves and raves in the late 1970s and 1980s. It combined elements of funk, uptempo soul and other styles into songs with easy danceability; elements from other genres such as punk rock and reggae also make an appearance; many artists like rock stars released disco-inspired albums later. Disco started to fade out during that era but its influence can still be heard today in genres such as techno house.
Nightclubs began employing DJs as cheaper alternatives to hiring bands in the early 1970s. At first, DJs played funk and uptempo soul tracks; later in the decade, however, disco began becoming popular as it featured a four-on-the-floor bass drum beat with hi-hats on each offbeat. Artists such as Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and the Bee Gees all had huge successes with disco, as did bands such as Chic, founded by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bass player Bernard Edwards.
Many of these records were played at disco clubs located in urban areas and targeted toward black and gay audiences. But disco did spark controversy: some white rockers opposed it as it pushed out raw, hard rock music they enjoyed listening to; one Chicago White Sox fan named Tom Dahl organized an event known as the “Disco Demolition,” in which he loaded a crate full of records with explosives before driving it onto center field and detonating it – leaving an explosion that scattered the records high into the air while leaving an explosion in its wake that left an explosive impact crater in its wake a large enough for everyone present to witness!
Though often controversial, disco eventually achieved mainstream status in the 1970s thanks to the release of Saturday Night Fever with its soundtrack featuring music by Bee Gees and Donna Summer, as well as inspiring musicians and producers to use synthesizers to compose their own songs; making the genre more approachable for a wider audience.
The disco era saw an explosion of television dance programs such as Soul Train hosted by Don Cornelius and It’s Your Show hosted by Marty Angelo. Additionally, Dewayne “Denny” Terrio became famous for teaching actor John Travolta how to dance for Saturday Night Fever movie.
Electronic dance music (EDM for short) refers to any musical genre produced with either digital tools such as computers or analog equipment and designed specifically to be danced to. EDM typically utilizes synthesizers, drum machines and processed samples or recordings that feature electronic instruments compared with acoustic genres which often require extensive audio engineering to sound as precise and full as EDM records.
EDM refers to any song recorded with electronic instruments, regardless of style or the inclusion or absence of vocals. There are various subgenres of EDM which have become very popular, from jungle and garage through UK house and tearout dubstep.
Synthesisers and drum machines have had an enormous influence on dance music’s development. By giving musicians access to non-traditional instruments that don’t impose constraints on them, synthesisers have enabled some of the most innovative musical styles ever imagined – leading to some groundbreaking and creative new musical genres that had never existed before!
Electronic dance music (EDM) began its evolution long before electronic instruments came onto the scene. Many early pioneers in dance music experimented with various types of electronic instrumentation before incorporating it into their songs; such as Robert Moog’s famous synthesizer (invented in 1964), or Jamaican dub artists who started using multiple tracks overlapping on reel-to-reel tapes to form new styles of reggae music in the ’60s.
As soon as the 1980s arrived, dance music experienced its first true surge: electronic dance music that was both dancefloor-oriented and made entirely electronic. Genres such as house, techno and rave became prevalent – though EDM wasn’t coined until decades later.
Hip hop’s use of turntables as musical instruments experienced an enormous surge during this decade, with Grandmaster Flash’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ and Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ serving as landmark examples that proved DJs could be as skilled musicians. This landmark moment for club culture set the path for future generations of electronic music to blossom.
Answering the question of who created techno dance music may not be as straightforward. Some claim it was created by three Detroit teenagers Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson who used drum machines and futurist ideology in their early 1980s music to form this new style of dance music that ultimately found a home in Europe.
These Detroit innovators were greatly influenced by the electronic music of Germany’s Kraftwerk and Belgium’s Tangerine Dream, and incorporated these influences into their own style of techno music. Utilizing repetitive beats and abrasive textures created using Roland 909 drum machines and Korg MS-10 synthesizers was what gave their music its distinctive sound.
Music created by Detroit techno artists first made its debut at clubs and raves around Detroit and its surrounding area before spreading worldwide through nightclubs and festivals. Soon enough, however, their genre took on its own life with each new generation of techno artists joining its ranks.
By the mid 1990s, techno had evolved to encompass numerous subgenres including ambient techno, industrial techno and acid techno. Furthermore, techno is one of the cornerstones of electronic dance music (EDM), informing genres like drum and bass and dubstep.
At around this same time, Kraftwerk was considered the precursor to techno. Their use of electronic instruments, synthesizers, sampled voices and futuristic production gave their music an energetic sense of futuristic movement.
Techno has seen rapid expansion during the ’90s and 2000s as more dance artists created music with a more minimalist sound, made possible through digital sampling technology such as drum machines. Artists such as Robert Hood and Carl Craig used digital sampling tools and drum machines for production with sparse approaches; Kenny Dixon Jr – more widely known by his moniker Moodymann – began producing samples-based techno tracks.
Techno music can be easily identified by its use of four-on-the-floor beats, driven by a kick drum on quarter notes and a snare or high hat on second, fourth and eighth notes. These four on four beats combine with repetitive melodies to produce its signature sound which has often been likened to factory noise or machine gun fire.
DJs began creating what would eventually become known as Trance music in the early ’90s. This genre evolved from an amalgam of Acid House and Detroit Techno with melodic elements from outside electronic music such as classical compositions or movie soundtracks added. Trance music is best-known for its hypnotic, repetitive loops and basslines that shift keys frequently – elements which define its signature ‘trance sound’. As an EDM genre, trance stands out with its own distinct identity within EDM circles. Trance music fans frequently refer to the period from 1990-1998 as the ‘Golden Age’, with some early tunes such as KLF’s ‘What Time Is Love (Pure Trance 1)’ being credited with helping define its sound; another remix by Jam & Spoon became one of its initial hits.
Trance’s roots can be traced back to disco, where its concept of using repetitive, hypnotic melodies to produce feelings of euphoria first began to take form. Disco was also home to numerous pioneering techniques such as looping, sampling and segueing which would later become standard in both techno and trance music genres. Furthermore, disco was the source of Giorgio Moroder’s first fully synthesized pop hit from Donna Summer’s 1977 single ‘I Feel Love’ which Giorgio Moroder produced fully synthesizers before producing Giorgio Moroder produced Donna Summer’s 1977 hit ‘I Feel Love’ by producing Giorgio Moroder himself!
By the late ’80s, disco had begun its steady decline and DJs began exploring other genres for inspiration. British DJ Paul Oakenfold first used the term ‘Trance’ to refer to his own music during this era; previously experimenting with adding melodic and upbeat elements into house music releases prior to 1989’s “Living on a Prayer”, considered to be the precursor for Trance music today.
Trance became an international sensation during the 90s, with artists like Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren becoming household names thanks to their high-energy dance music. Blending elements from house, new-age, synthesizer pop and synthesizer funk genres, Trance also features delay/reverb effects for an enchanting dreaminess that keeps audiences dancing all night long.
Trance eventually evolved into its own subgenres, such as progressive and uplifting trance, both featuring distinctive styles with strong melodic influences, beautiful piano arrangements, and orchestrated string sections that appealed to audiences at festivals such as Tomorrowland.