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  • 15 Nov
  • 8 min read
genres-of-edm

EDM stands for Electronic Dance Music, dance music, club music or electronica. It is a broad range of electronic music genres typically having a repetitive beat and a synthesized backing track, made mainly for nightclubs, raves, and festivals. The two biggest identifiers for EDM are, its tempo, i.e. BPM (beats per minute) and its traits, i.e. drops, buildups, bassline repetitions, certain sounds, etc. Like every other musical genre, genres of EDM, along with several sub-genres, need separate studies and understanding before a person actually starts producing EDM.

History of EDM

Music, entirely produced by electronic generators, was first produced in Germany, 1953. Electronic music was also produced in Japan and the United States at the beginning of the 1950s. United States used the name “electronic dance music” (EDM) as early as 1985. Edgard Varèse saw electronic media’s utility for sound production, and his use of new electronic instruments led to him being identified as the “Father of Electronic Music“.

About Genres of EDM

They are created to label music to make it easier to refer to a specific kind of music, find the right events and artists.
Because music evolves, splits further, widens, or narrows down, this aspect makes genre naming ineffective over time.
The genre names are not rules or boundaries though, musicians are free to explore and evolve.

People have tried to seize all the genres of EDM, its styles and their origin under one roof. Some have succeeded in presenting just about the right insights, two of these are:

Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music and The Genealogy and History of Popular Music Genres by Musicmap.

Major Genres of EDM

While there are numerous genres of EDM and even more sub-genres, we’ve been able to list down a major few with explanations and examples.

House

House is one of the most common and recognized genres of EDM. It is warm & pleasant, has a steady floor of four beats and contains lots of bass. Its roots go back to the disco music of the 70s.

Major Artists – Avicii, Kaskade, Swedish House Mafia, deadmau5, David Guetta

House has a variety of sub-genres.

1) Progressive House – This is presumably one of the most recognized and popular in genres of EDM. The soundtracks are characterized to be ecstatic and fast-paced. Its general pace is around 128 BPM. Progressive House is best identifiable by its verses (that are heavily featured in most soundtracks within the genre), its build up, then a drop and in some soundtracks a different second drop as well. Progressive House songs are well thought & change throughout, i.e. they progress.

Major Artists – Hardwell, Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Zedd, Avicii

2) Tropical House – The most calming soundtracks are a part of Tropical House, therefore this is the most tranquil of all the genres of EDM. As the name suggests, the music this genre offers is chilled, happy, and tropical relaxing music. The listener feels like as if on a beach or other tropical areas listening to it.

Major Artists – Kygo, Matoma, Filous, Tez CadeyClean Bandit, Lost Frequencies, Years & Years

3) Deep House – It’s usually slower and extra laid back than other genres of EDM. It features very deep bass. Deep House is among the least energetic of all the genres of EDM. One would generally here this sort of music in clubs or lounges. It has a general 4/4 beat and a different chord progression.

Major Artists – Maya Jane Coles, Hot Since 82, Lisa Shaw, Lost Frequencies

4) Future House – Deep House + Progressive House + Bass House = Future House. This genre focuses more on basslines. Future house songs use a unique synth. They also have a lot of bass.

Major Artists – Don Diablo, Martin Garrix, Tiesto, Tchami

5) Electro House – These songs are intense and melodic, also happens to be the most popular sub-genre of House. Contains a lot of synths & is heavily danceable. You can hear these types of songs in electronic dance music festivals like Tomorrowland. Electro House has a striking beat, an extraordinary buildup, and repetitious rhythms. Some Electro House melodies even have just pitch-changing notes ( like Titanic by Steve Aoki).

Major Artists – Calvin Harris, Nicky Romero, Steve Aoki, R3hab, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike


There are other sub-genres, which are –

 a) Melbourne Bounce/House – Began in Melbourne as the name suggests in 2010. It has intense vocal drops and a range of 135-150 BPM.


Major Artists – KSHMR, R3hab

b) Dutch House – Originated in the Netherlands. These tracks are typically made up of complex percussion and drumbeats, dramatic buildups and short riffs of high-pitched synths.

Major Artists – Hardwell, David Guetta, Martin Garrix

c) Big Room – When you take away all the elements in House, except beats & put a heavily reverbed melody you have a Big Room track. 

6)Tech House: A hybrid combination between Deep house & Techno (we’ll discuss that ahead). The beat feels warm like the Deep House but the structure of the songs feels techno.

7) Bass HouseFocuses on basslines, jerky beats & minimalistic style.

8) Disco House: Combination of old-school techno & house tracks.

Techno

The vibe of this genre is mechanical yet simple and soulful. Originated in Detroit, it was one of the originals of electronica of the century and was prime in popularity. Techno uses repetitious synth chords, melodies, and subtle drops. It uses a 4/4 beat with claps and snares between the quarter notes pulse with a range of 140bpm. It emphasizes less on build-ups and drops, and more on the beat, which is usually uniform throughout the song.

Major Artists – Armin Van Buuren, Carl Cox, Aphex TwinGesaffelstein

Trance/Progressive Trance

Trance is a Europe-based genre that’s opposite to Techno, and Progressive Trance is its sub-genre. It is uplifting melodic, emotional & highly danceable. It’s shaped by build-ups & drops, unfolding emotional melody. Trance used to be very popular back in the days but now, it is popular in the form of progressive trance. The main difference between the two is that trance is more repetitive and simple, while progressive trance has a blend of progressive house and trance, making it more complex and upbeat. Trance ranges at around 140bpm. Trance is usually sans vocals or has minimal vocals.

Major Artists (Progressive Trance) – Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Dash Berlin

1) Psytrance – Psytrance is a trippy version of trance, faster, arpeggiated & stimulant. Check out some of the top Indian Psychedelic Artists.

Major Artists (Psychedelic Trance) – Astrix, Infected Mushroom, Vini Vici, Astral Projection

2) Goa – Goa Trance sound, in India, was being used synonymously with the term Psychedelic Trance. Read more about it here.

Moombahton

This genre is Reggae (a style of popular music originating in Jamaica) with more electronic elements. Moombahton (Moombah) has more of Dutch House and a two-step pulse beat fusing House with Reggae. Sounds like pop that is electronic. Vocalists can vary from pop to funk style. Rappers can also be featured.

1) Moombahcore – This being a sub-genre, should not be confused with Moombahton. Moombahcore is more dynamic as it uses elements of Dubstep.

2) Moombahsoul A fusion of deep house and soul, as well as genres such as Dutch house, electro house, house, and EDM, it also shares characteristics of reggaeton, salsa, reggae, and Latin house, although nowadays the style and elements of the tropical house have been incorporated. It usually has a tempo that ranges from 108 to 116 bpm.

Major Artists – Jack Ü, DiploMajor Lazer

Trap

Trap is electronic rap (hence the name). One can hear elements of rap including the beat, melody, heavy drops and vocals. However, Trap has more Dutch House elements in it like a heavier and melodic synth. It is inspired by Hip-Hop & Techno and has irregularly arranged beats.  

Major Artists – Diplo, Skrillex (Jack U), Flosstradamus

Dubstep

Dubstep is popular because of its uplifting, speedy, energetic melodies with huge dynamic drops. It uses different synthesizers to create that metallic drop. Its range is around 140bpm. The original kind of dubstep has numerous variations now, found regularly in EDM concerts, raves, or clubs.

Major Artists Skrillex, Datsik, Zomboy, Getter

1) Chillstep – As the name suggests, you would hear this kind of music when you want to relax, think deeply, or sleep to. Generally, Chillstep has an easygoing slow beat, ranging around 100bpm (or less). Instruments include piano, soft synths, strings, and at times guitar.

Major Artists Direct, Seven Lions, Gnash, ZHU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0VW4vhpnyA

2) Brostep – Heavy and unbalanced basslines that are heavier than Dubstep.

Major Artists – Skrillex, Zomboy, Excision

Future Bass

Future bass is aggressive but joyful at the same. This is a combination of genres like dubstep, trap, progressive house and Dutch house. Future bass songs use trap-like beats, pulsating synths, and many additional synth elements. It ranges around 130–140bpm.

Major Artists – Slushii, Skrux, VanicPrince Fox, San Holo

Drum and Bass

Also called DnB, it has a typical drum beat, heavy basslines & melodies. Tempo is around 175 BPM.  

Major Artists – London Elektricity, Netsky

1) Liquid DnB – Smooth and melodic water-like version of DnB. 

Major Artists – ShapeshiftersKaleidoscópio

Drumstep

Drumstep is the lovechild i.e. fusion between Drum Bass and Dubstep. The difference is that Dubstep is usually around the range of 138 – 142 BPM’s compared to Drumstep which is at 160 – 180 BPM’s. Another difference is that Drumstep has heavier sub-basslines influenced by Drum Bass and halftime percussion, snares, kicks or beats.

Major Artists – Skrillex, Figure, Knife Party, Tristam

Ambient Music

A form of slow instrumental music, Brian Eno coined the term “ambient music”. It is a genre of EDM that highlights the atmosphere over traditional musical rhythm. It uses gentle and repetitive sound patterns created through synthesizers and timbral qualities, often lacking the presence of any net composition, beat, or structured melody. This is defined as sonic wallpaper, it generates a calming sensation. It uses layers of sound without musical tropes, for both passive and active listening.

Major Artists – Aphex Twin, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, Air

1) Ambient Dub – It involves the genre-melding of dub styles. Patronized by King Tubby and other Jamaican artists, it has all the basic drop-outs, equalization, echo, and psychedelic effects. It often incorporates layering techniques.

2) Ambient House – A musical category founded in the late 1980s, used to represent Acid House featuring ambient music elements and atmospheres. Tracks in the ambient house genre typically have four-on-the-floor beats, synth pads, and vocal samples integrated into an atmospheric style.

The Dutch Brainvoyager is an example of this genre. Illbient (coined by DJ Olive) is another form of ambient house music.

3) Ambient Techno – Ambient music atmospheres with the rhythmic and melodic elements of techno.

Notable artists include Aphex Twin, B12, Autechre, The Black Dog

4) Ambient Industrial – A hybrid genre of industrial and ambient music. Consists of evolving different harmonies of metallic drones and resonances, extremely low-frequency rumbles and machine noises, perhaps supplemented by gongs, percussive rhythms, bullroarers, distorted voices or anything that the artist samples. It is often processed to that point where the original sample is no more recognizable.

5) Ambient Pop – An extension of Dream Pop, possessing a shape and form common to conventional pop, while its electronic textures and atmospheres mirror the meditative qualities of ambient. Lock-groove melodies of Krautrock influence this genre, but is less rough.

6) Dark Ambient – Brian Eno’s original vision of ambient music found its opposite in this style. Dark Ambient features low or totally missing beats with passages of keyboards, eerie samples, and treated guitar effects.

7) Space Music – Space music is used for both background score and foreground listening, to stimulate relaxation. Space music is commonly used in planetariums, for meditation, and as a relaxation aid.

Downtempo

The 1990s brought with itself a wave of slower paced music, played throughout the relaxation chambers of the clubs or dedicated sections at electronic music events. Downtempo music started to surface around Ibiza when DJs would bring down the vibe with gentler electronica upon approaching dawn.

Major Artists – Kygo, Air, Zero7

1) Chillout – This is self-explanatory. 

2) Trip Hop – It’s synonymously used with Downtempo. It’s a slower and ‘chilled-out’ type of music.

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