Music has defined our lives and culture for as far back as anyone can remember. As time goes on we create new styles and flavors of music to fit our individual lives and preferences, steadily building a library of music that varies widely. Once new genres of music begin, it takes many years for them to evolve into their true potential and gain a true following of fans. Rap music has changed immensely over the last twenty years it has existed, being pioneered by a number of artists that had a true love for the genre. Another genre that could be compared to rap, being a newcomer and still gaining a following, is that of EDM(Electronic Dance Music). The category of EDM covers electronica, house, techno, trance, dubstep, and the list goes on. Though it has not become popular in the mainstream, Electronic Dance Music has evolved a long way from its beginnings of ravers and weekend long parties.
Electronic Dance Music didn’t choose where to be born…
Recently I read an article that spoke about the dangers to society and our children that was coming from EDM. Roughly, it explained that Electronic Dance Music was the source of raves and wild building break-in parties where people of all ages do drugs and overcrowd the building. While this may have been true when EDM first started(back in the 80’s, right around the time when ecstasy came out but before it was illegal), the scene has grown up since then and now contains people from every walk of life. Festivals all over the world celebrate EDM as a highly loved genre and draws millions of responsible adults to enjoy the sounds.
There is an interesting comparison to be made between rap music and EDM. While the two types of music share very little, they did grow up in the same time period, gaining momentum and evolving into what they are now. Upon a closer look, we find that these two music genres are actually exact opposites; while rap focuses on the changing of the voice and lyrics, EDM focuses on the changing of the tone and note in the music. In this way, we can analyze issues with EDM in much the same way as we would rap.
I have heard many arguments from people saying why EDM isn’t good music, but the most common argument I hear is “It’s too repetitive.” To be fair, I’ve made the same argument about certain rap songs because this is a pit both genres can very easily fall into. Electronic Dance Music becomes good when an artist knows how to create music that changes quickly while still keeping symmetry to the notes and timing.
Most long time fans of EDM have an expectation of how quickly a song should change or add rhythms; to make them wait past that point is risking losing their ear. While early EDM started with old Casio digital pianos that couldn’t produce a very wide variety of sounds, modern EDM spans a full range of pitch, tones, and volume, making for songs with more possible variety. Even though Electronic Dance Music is something that really anyone could create, it takes an especially skilled individual to create truly good music.
When first hearing EDM many people are not particularly fond of it, however, many different types of EDM exist. Knowing the categories of Electronic Dance Music can help the new listener find something that is closest to their taste and give an accurate representation of EDM. Most people think of techno when they hear anything in the EDM category, but techno is actually a subgenre of EDM itself.
Techno is classified by heavy emphasis on the electronic tune or rhythm and a quickly changing beat. Trance is very similar, but leans more toward melodic qualities in tune and usually includes a female vocalist. House music is usually more down tempo with a distinct beat and often a slight repetitive nature. Dubstep, which has become popular recently, is classified by a heavy beat, slow building rhythm, and steep drops; it is also very commonly repetitive. While new categories are popping up every day with artists hybridizing genres, these main four might give an idea where to start listening.
There have been many artists over decades who have put their lives and souls into their music, and EDM is a perfect example of that. While no genre will deliver purely good music, there is a large variety in Electronic Dance Music that allows for amazing creations. Over the years I’ve found many good artists who fall in different areas of EDM(Savant, Modestep, Gemini, Above and Beyond, Armin Van Buuren, Markus Schultz, and Andain to name a few).
It’s taken me many years to find the music I like within the genre, but as time passes and EDM continues to evolve, it will become easier and easier for everyone to find something they like within the genre. If you want to check out some EDM but don’t know what to look for first, trying listening to the radios shows called “A State of Trance” and “Group Therapy.” Each week two of the biggest names in EDM compile their favorite tracks into their respective radio shows; it’s a great way to check out the genre from all angles.