A World of Music: EDM

Nov 25, 2020

Since the first note was struck by an ancient musician, people have had their own musical preferences and have listened to a variety of musical genres. Different genres vary due to traditions, musical instruments, pitch loudness, and a wide variety of different parameters. These different types of music have their time to flourish and become the popular genre of their time and place.

It used to be that these trends of preference could only expand outward to include a few communities or societies. But today, music can flourish internationally, and set the whole world ablaze.

Over the last few decades a new type of music has been growing in popularity around the world, with different cultures adding their own flavours: Electronic music.

Electronic music, for the uninitiated, is a popular form of music usually intended for dance clubs. Most electronic dance music, or EDM, features a repetitive beat and synthesized backtracks. This is, of course, an over-simplification of a giant group of subgenres, may of which come from around the globe.

Let’s explore some of the world’s flavours of EDM!


One of the first popular genres of EDM is Techno, a genre that many unfamiliar with EDM often think of as the umbrella other EDM music falls under. But, in fact, techno is a specific genre all to itself. This form of EDM got its start in Detroit in the late 1980s, and has gone on to inspire several other forms of electronic music.

In fact, Detroit techno is often seen as the foundation on which many newer subgenres have been built.


Trance music is a little newer than techno, having come into being in the early 1990s in places like Germany and India. This subgenre of EDM is characterized by a tempo that falls between one hundred and one hundred and twenty-five beats per minutes.

Although trance is a genre of EDM all by itself, trance also often combines elements from other electronic genres like techno.

The word “trance” refers to a hypnotized like state of being, marked by an experience of higher consciousness. This musical genre got its name by using a mix of layers that foreshadow the song’s buildup and release, sort of like being in a musical trance.


The trap music subgenre began to catch on in the 1990s in the southern U.S. Trap music is somewhat different from the EDM subgenres that we’ve covered so far, as it usually incorporates actual lyrics, as well as sounds that use triple time division or double hi-hats.

Recently, artists have begun combining their non-EDM tracks with trap music to create a new remix that uses more EDM components.

Glitch Hop

Originating as a distinct movement in Germany and Japan throughout the 1990s, glitch pop is a somewhat unique form of EDM. This style of EDM is often described as having an “aesthetic of failure,” because it is often made up of sounds created by glitch-based audio media and other sonic effects.

In essence, glitch hop is made using malfunctioning digital electronics or audio recording devices, like software bugs, CD skipping, digital distortion, electric hum, video game sampling, and more.


Industrial music draws on more harsh, transgressive, or provocative sounds and themes than its siblings among EDM. In fact, AllMusic defines industrial music as “the most abrasive and aggressive fusion of rock and electronic music” that was “initially a blend of avant-garde electronics experiments (tape music, musique concrète, white noise, synthesizers, sequencers, etc.) and punk provocation.”

The genre first took prominence in the mid-1970s, nearly simultaneously in both the UK and Chicago.

Drum and Bass

The name of this genre gives a lot away regarding its style. Drum and bass rose out of the jungle and rave scenes of the UK in the early 1990s and is characterized by strong drum and bass lines, as well as a fast backbeat. In fact, a typical drum and bass beat is between one hundred and sixty and one hundred and eighty beats per minute, with very heavy sub bassline and bass.

As a popular form of EDM, drum and bass reached its commercial peak around the same time as other UK genres, and has split into several subgenres, including hardstep, breakcore techstep, Dark step, neuro funk, and ragga jungle.


House music was created by music producers and club DJs in the 1980s in Chicago. In those early years, house was characterized by rhythms that were mostly created by machines with characteristics that were culled from disco, but was more minimalistic and electronic.

By 1984, house had become extremely popular in the clubs of Chicago, and it began to spread to the local scenes of Baltimore, Detroit, Newark, and New York. By the late 1980s, it had spread around the world, finding popularity in Europe, Australia, and South America.


Chillout music is an electronic music subgenre and umbrella term for EDM characterized by mid-tempo and mellow style beats. Chillout started out in the mid-1990s in dance club “chill rooms,” where more relaxing music played, allowing dancers to “chillout” from the more fast paced music on the dance floor.

The artists most associated with chillout include Moonbotica, Moby, and Paul Kalbrener.


Of course, no exploration of popular EDM genres would be complete without dubstep.

Starting out in the late 1980s, dubstep materialized as an evolution of a variety of related styles of music, like the broken beat, techno, dub, reggae, and drum and bass. In the UK, dubstep can be traced to the South London party scene and the growth of Jamaican sounds systems.

In the yearly years of the genre, the music featured unique percussion patterns and syncopated drums.


These are, of course, only a small fraction of the incredibly diverse genre of electronic dance music. Countless more subgenres are constantly evolving and forming, often using these more established genres as jumping off points.

The one thing that keeps them all together is that the quality and character of the music is always more synthetic, with the creation and manipulation of sound created by electronic means, rather than an acoustic instrumental performance.

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