A Guideline To Electronic Dance Music Production Genres & Styles by Xe-Cute
Anything made with a TB-303 or other squelchy noises in it. TB stands for Transistor Baseline, it’s a kinda drum computer. Acid is a high squeaky sound; normal bpm (130). Acid has also been introduced into many other genres such as house & trance, and is pretty much used in every other style of electronic music. Similar Artist: Sven Vath
Maurice, some Chemical Brothers, Lords Of Acid. Characterized by use of a Roland TB-303. squelchy, squeaky sounds — the “funky worm”. Normal: 130 bpm. Precursor to Trance.
Jazz to dance to played by people now. Often features Hammond organ. Lots of strings and bass. Similar to abstract drum & bass sound in ways but also contains the main assembly method used in Jazz and the squeaky Acid elements are not as apparent or refined, but are noticeable after listening to Acid Jazz for a while. Similar Artist: PhoteK
No defined beat, just chill-out sounds. Whale noises, washy sounds, textures, colours, lights. Drug vegetable music. Aphex twin reinvented it in 1991 but its been around forever. The music is typically very fluid and progressive, alot of current artists use a minimalmistic approach with ambience and elements of Environmental Soundscape are used quite often in unison to achieve the right groove. Okay since Erik Satie,FSOL
Quite a specific, narrow style. Like trip-hop music, only with less energy. Much more relaxed than proper breakbeat.
Original term for house music with ambient elements and structures. Originated as post-Rave music in London during the 80s. Inspired by Chicago House, older ambient music and progressive rock.
Generally, ambient house is house music you wouldn’t dance to: softer midtempo house beats, synth washes and ambience added to dreamy vocals and plenty of samples. (This term isn’t used much now as ambient house spawned so many different styles of downtempo music that are hard to categorize.)
Ambient techno is the same idea, but…get this…with techno.
Ambient Techno Dance able elements and techno style percussion lines, but usually has swirling un-definable soundscapes imposed along with classic techno elements. 303 lines, deep bass, 4/4 beats.
Prodigy, Chemical Brothers. Precursor to Jungle. Loud, fast, aggressive, fueled by speedy drums. Uses 909 kick drum through a distortion pedal as main beat. Beat pattern characterized by 1 2 & 4 “on the floor” and a syncopated 3.
Buttrock Goa AKA: Heavy metal Goa
Goa trance where the main riff or melody is voiced by a metal guitar, the melody doesnt have to be a guitar though, it can be just a rythmn kind of metal guitar as well. Some classic examples are None of this is Real – Infected Mushroom and Swamp Thing – Juno Reactor.
Usually around 145 – 160 BPM
Simple bassdrum, hihats, constant leads, fast synths & of course lots of vocals. The roots of club are highly influenced by disco. Club music became mainstream around the mid 90s with artists such as Paul Van Dyk, Robert Miles & ATB just to name a few. Normal bpm was (130) Now it’s slowed down to 124-130bpm. Club music was EDM before EDM was a thing.
A hard constant Beat with the use of Industrial Electronic Effects. The overtone is somewhat Gothic and Dark. Using low percussion/metal hits, hard base, distorted vocals & Hard Rave Bassline. This style is relatively new and has not gained alot popularity as of yet. Similar Artist: RaveCore
The added use of looming effects and scary samples to make a typical Trance song darker. Typically most trance is on a higher octave, typical Dark Trance replaces the higher octave to a lower one creating a darker vibe. Also a Faster version of the Dark Rave style beats are used when creating Dark Trance. Similar Artist: Gatecrasher
DHS. “Deep house is a started as style of house most prominently influenced by a combination of gospel and [80’s] Chicago house beats. As of 2020 it often means just deep basses, often low pitched vocals, 909 style hats and 909 style drums.
The bass is like a police man, everything else splinters off in shards of reverb. Started in the 60’s with electronic music technology. (ie. tape recorders reaching Jamaica.)
Started by Skrillex. Weird robot like growl noises that sounds like robots trying to have sex. Went commercial and people lost interest. Still lives on in the underground a little.
A bit difficult is this one. Sort of the opposite of pop music or the radio edit in dance music. Implies loud throbbing bass, good to mix and not nice to just listen too. But this is the shit to move too. Deep Example: anything (it seems) on the Basic Channel label.
A variation of Acid & House with a backwards pull and a strange way of laying down beats. Also known for very distorted vocals. The uniqueness of Detroit Style is gaining popularity due to a few reasons. The non-symmetric drum & percussion arrangement helps vary the sound enough to be used perfectly with other styles of music such as House & Tech Step. Similar Artists: Daft Punk, Josh Wink
Offensive term for intelligent/ambient jungle.
More general, common term for modern new ambient. Slow break-beats with dub influences and ambient synths. Samples are still present as well, though there is less emphasis on vocals than in, say, modern chillout.
Drum & Bass
Photek, LTJ Bukem, Source Direct. Origin: London. Offshoot of Jungle. Fast, lots of layered percussion, minimal melody, smooth flowing bassline, flowing string sounds.
Standing for Electronic Dance Music is a combination of electro & pop with big heavy kick drums often tuned to a specific note. Made commercially popular by David Guetta and all those that followed. It eventually became heavier, less musical and more predicable in terms of arrangement. Still is the main genre at lots of music festivals in the US.
Early hip hop with 808 drum ‘BWAUM’ noises. 1983, New York. Currently enjoying a revival with new stuff from people like the Clear record label. Electro music is highly regarded by alot of older techno buffs. The reason that the old skool stuff was so great, was the fact that keyboards/music equipment wasn’t that advanced, and the ability to use a keyboard & equipment to create good sounds. Even if they are a bit abstract. It peaked around 2005-2010 and was the the foundation of EDM.
Mostly female vocals and male rap. Always a loud, well-defined bassdrum: normal to fast (140 bpm) This style of music is basically the same thing as club except for the European Vocals and a somewhat faster BPM. Similar Artists: Snap, 2 Unlimited, Ace of Bass.
Consists of fast breakbeats and a typical rave sound and some properly arrange european accented vocals. Synth always very fast (160+) and loud; e.g. Marusha, Mark Oh, Scooter, Dune.
Uses a main melody/riff often within a chord in a short 2 bar loop. Combines Deep House, Electro and Club music together. First went mainstream by Oliver Heldens. In fact, most early Future House just sounded like imitation Oliver Heldens songs. Has evolved slightly but not much.
Future bass is pretty much Flume and those trying to sound like and pretend to be Flume. The sound was started in Australia by Flume.
Made in Rotterdam 1987; not music really 😉 Means ‘mate’ in dutch. Very fast(180+) and hard hardcore often with strange vocal samples. Some elements of Acid & HardCore are used to help make the furiest gabber style beats. Basically this is Techno’s equivalent of Punk.
This style of music has some of it’s roots in PUNK & HardCore. This style of music hasn’t been too popular, but Gabber seems to be making a come back. Similar Artist: Gabber Dan
4/4 house, very vocal-oriented, lots of hi-hats. “Garage came from Philly soul, originally was no more than 120 bpm in its speed, had up and down lines in its bassline department, and had generally a more ‘soul’ feel than house did. Originated at the Paradise Garage Club, NY.”
Juno Reactor, Eat Static. Trance with a steady, fast 4/4 (“stomping” beat), multi-layered buzzy/ acidy/ psychadelic sounds and noises, hard bassline. Occasional sci-fi-esque sample. Faster than House but slower than Drum & Bass.
Goa trance is recognized by the following characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of trance. A very steady 4/4 beat. lots of very psychadelic sounding wobbly noises, and acidy sounds. A lot going on, noise wise. No poncey Detroit minimalism here – just chuck in loads of boingy wibbly noises, all on top of each other.
Imagine early Eat Static, but with less imaginative rhythms, and you’re getting close. Pyschedelia is the key.
It is traditional, but not obligatory, to have at least one sample from a cheesy 50s Sci-Fi film or Star Trek sample per track. “All channels and frequencies clear”, “The electrons do it to the neutrons, the neutrons do it to themselves”, kind of thing.
Tracks generally go on for ages.
Loud fast Rave music with very very fast leads and effects. Also lots of child like vocal segments are used. This style of music has become very popular with new Ravers to the scene, but also has it’s original roots with the Rave & HardCore Generes. Alot of people mix Happy Hardcore with Hard Club. And this genre as well has been over commercialized and is loosing its luster because of it.
On a different note there is alot of Anti-Happy Hardcore sentiment that has surfaced on the rave scene lately from people who decide to choose different styles to listen to. Similar Artists: Roller Girl, Dune, Anabolic Frolic
HardCore arrived around the same period as Electro/Minimalistic & Acid. Loud fast aggressive fueled by speedy drugs. Uses 909 kick drum through a distortion pedal as main beat went underground circa 1990 and was used to help define other genres such as Rave, Gabber & Happy Hardcore. HardCore has become more of an element that’s added to songs rather than a defined style. With some work this style could be brought back, just like gabber.
70s disco influenced house. DJs: JPW, TWA.
House music with a cheesey but happy feel to it. So called because people dance around their handbags in the clubs where it originated. Northern UK, 1992?
Early 90’s hardcore.
Hardbag = handbag with no cheese and no vocals. Surely hardbag = house. Like Handbag but HARDER ie. faster and with more umph. .
Jungle with a strong heavy off beat bassline.
Typical trance but faster leads, beats & transitions. Better at speeding up the crowd =)
Dead Or Alive. Mid to late 80’s. Fast: 130+ bpm. Upbeat, bright clean sounds. Loud, tight bassdrum, handclaps and hats. Evolved into Euro.
In its original form (sometimes called Chicago House): Originally formed circa 1983 in Chicago, “House is a feeling…House is an uncontrollable desire to jack your body etc etc…” Formulaic grooves at 120bpm. Monster kick drum sound pattern w/ high hat, with a prominent melody. Steady and clean sound with soul-inspired vocals and samples.
Moby, Keoki. Today the term House embodies a more uptempo, happy, rave-influenced sound. Strongly groove-oriented. Steady four- on- the- floor. Dovetails with Nu-Energy. Spawned its own sub-genres.
IDM Intelligent Dance Music
Most often not dance-able at all. Its a usually ridgid and complex percussion oriented music. The lines are sometimes hard to discern where the downbeat is at all. Much of the sounds fall into glitch and beep types sounds but don’t have to necessarily. The use and Importance of silence and space takes equal precedent to sound.
Front 242, A Split Second, Clockdva, Front Line Assembly, Nitzer Ebb, Bigod 20, TGT, Skinny Puppy. Began mid 80’s. Mechanized, hard, robotic. Beats and samples that evoke metallic or cyberpunk imagery. Can be instrumental or vocal — vocals usually raw, in your face. The forefather of much of today’s sound, with traces found in Hardcore / Breakbeat / Jungle. Spiritual descendant of Kraftwerk in the 70’s.
Introverted, sparse ambient music. The opposite of new ambient, isolationism is more like a new version of the original ambient music of Eno etc. It continues these artists’ ideas but using modern production tecniques, synths and samples.
Drum and Bass (!?) (1) DEEP baseline and a well-pronounced breakbeat; also fast (160); many reggae influences. London 1990/1991, combination of hip hop, rave, and hardcore with a sprinkling of dub. Sampler music, typically uses speeded up samples of other records as main rhythm. Original fast as its hardcore roots but nowadays labels like Metalheadz put out medium tempo tunes.
Techno with a small number of different noises and much empty space in the track. Alot of progressive and fluid sounds overlapping and interleaving to make new sounds. This is one of those genres that either people will get or not. We tend to use the Minimal style of arranging some more complex sounds.=
Nu-energy is predominantly characterized by a hard techno-based 4/4 bass beat with plenty of pumping basslines. Melodies tend to be pretty anthemic/epic synth stuff and breakdowns are par for the course. Cheesy, breathless vocal samples can be found in many Nu-Energy choons too.
Basically, Nu-Energy is the less accessible offshoot of commercial European-type house, mutated into something harder and faster. Leading Nu-Energy exponents include baby doc (with his choon “Neurotica” being regarded as something of a Nu-Energy classic), Blu Peter (check out his “Elevator” project and the “magic”, “first movement” and “shinny” releases, all of which are on React records I think) and DJs Tall Paul and Tony de Vit (i’m not sure if they do their own choons though). Red Jerry (a prolific remixer and one half of JX – you know, “son of a gun” and “you belong to me”) is one of the best of the bunch in my opinion.
An obvious example of clubs would be London’s “Trade” night. Nu-Energy attracts a disproportionately large gay crowd and many Nu-Energy clubs supposedly have a gays only door policy (Note: I’m not getting in to the politics, just telling it like it is). Labelwise, check out React, Moonshine, Hooj.
UK’s combination of German trance and house.
Psytek Trance AKA: Minimal PsyTrance.
This is just normal PsyTrance, but instead of having blips and blurps and wizzes, it has samples of evil laughing, babies crying, people dying and other really evil sounding effects. A classic example is Claustrophobic Sting – Prodigy, except that uses a break beat, but it’s the same kind of thing.
Usually around 145 BPM
Gabba with punk samples. No, as old punks know hardcore = 80’s punk. Then ravers stole the expression. Thus punkcore = hardcore; and hardcore really = ravecore =)
Music that consists of a constant bass drum with occasional doubling up to make it more interesting. A progressive bass synth with lots of resonance. A fast arrangement of percussion or hihats and occasionally some strayed vocals. Rave Music is an actual genre of music (Not Just a location where Electronic music is played). Other Genres that helped define the Rave Genre are HardCore, RaveCore, HardCore, and Gabber. Rave music is timed accurately and is highly percussive. If too many leads, vocals, or beat variations are made it would be Hard Trance, Hard House, or Hard Club depending on what elements were added.
Adding unique styles of each genre into the beat and motion of Rave music. Typically using methodology of timed beats, but bringing in new aspects of other genres. Over the last few years we have been able to bring in aspects of Trance, House, Electro, Acid, Club, Industrial & Experimental into this methodology. Creating a unique beat and overall vibe. We are still defining this genre of music and ideally the standards for this genre for years to come.
The KLF, Utah Saints. Strong house or tribal beat evoking a “stadium” atmosphere — echoing vocals and keyboards, boomy bass, samples of cheering crowds.
Garage sped up with an added touch of reggae. New for ’97
Techno is the most versatile of all the genres. It ranges from the intensely hard percussive sounds made mostly of white noise (waveforms-Jeff Mills) to the disco sounds that were around in the 70’s (South Side-Dave Clark).
The diversity is such that Techno is no longer Techno but a whole host of even more specific “pigeon holes” Like minimal techno, which makes the best club music as there is such a large opportunity to show off ones DJ’ing skills.
How about: ‘I grew up thinking that techno music is actually something that you can’t imagine.” That is techno at its best. If you hear something that you’d never expect to hear – that’s techno. If you hear something that kind of sounds like you’ve heard it before, then it’s not techno.
Tech House is a combination of minimal, house and techno. It’s very popular in Ibiza and many different parts of Europe. Tech house is usually pretty repetitive with 1 or two bar bass-line loops and lots of digital clicky percussive sounds. Tends to fall from 120bpm to 126bpm.
Jungle (usually dark jungle) which uses techno style drum machine sounds.
There are three R’s… repetition repetition and repetition. But that loop evolves with effects and modulation. Also sounds ‘clean’, “new beat is boring, acid house is dead.. This is trance dance” said klf sleek German trance missiles were the next evolution of sound after acid house… 1989? Many different (synth) sounds, always a clap (or something like it) on the odd beat, so the music goes: beat – clap+beat – beat – clap+beat – beat etc. IMO the best trance comes from England: fast (140+ bpm).
Lots of indigenous samples and hand percussion but can also describe a primal (thud thud) approach to rhythm. This style also has cultural influences from tribal music around the world.
Los Angeles 1993? but popularized and altered by Bristol 1994. Music based around hiphop beats with little or no rapping and employing electronic sounds (bleeps, acid riffs?) rather than old soul funk or jazz samples (but not exclusively); covers the 120/130 bpm acid-hop of the dust brothers, tales from the woodshed, bomb the bass with justin warfield, to the laid back beats of mo’wax and the bristol sound; the two extremes don’t sound very similar at all and most people in the scene hate the term.
About the Author
This was written by Xe-Cute on The Serious Sounds Network.
You can also checkout this crazy image of the different genres that has been circulating the net. The source is unknown.
It seems pretty accurate aside from the fact that some of the artists in the list do other genres and some of the main artists or producers are sometimes not mentioned. I guess that is the problem with artist based genre lists.
Anyway, I didn’t make this one but I thought it was useful to include it.
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