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10 Most Widely Popular EDM Genres and Their History

10 Most Popular EDM Genres and their History
In recent times, EDM has become one of the most popular styles of music amongst the masses. But what most people don't know is that even it consists of separate genres within it. Melodyful brings you a list of the top 10 genres in Electronic Dance Music along with their history and sub-genres.
Rashmi Sunder
Last Updated: Jul 14, 2017
Classic Invention
The Roland TB-303 is a bass synthesizer designed by Tadao Kikumoto and manufactured in 1982, which had a major role in shaping what we know today as electronic dance music.
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is basically music that is created with the help of electronic equipment like turntables, synthesizers, drum machines, sequencers, samplers, voice enhancers, with or without the use of other musical instruments and vocals. It is meant to have a dance-based arrangement and create a vibe that encourages people to shake up the floor.
The origins of EDM can be traced back to the 1960s, when musical styles like blues, funk, and jazz incorporated the use of electric guitars and synthesizers to bring a unique blend and feel to their songs. In the beginning, all music using electronics was considered to be Electronica, for lack of a better knowledge. Val Stephen was one of the pioneers, but it wasn't until the '70s when disco became all the rage that EDM was really embraced by the people. One notable example that is said to have brought on this rage is the song "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer, which was produced by Giorgio Moroder. During this time, in the UK, Euro-Dance started emerging, along with Experimental music and Progressive Rock.
With the coming of the '80s, the synthesized sounds and now-popular genres like House and Techno slowly emerged, pioneered by German big names like Kraftwerk. The former in Chicago and the latter in Detroit was kick-started by the Belleville Three. With the emergence of latest technology, computers, and other equipment, genres like Trance, Electro, and Dow-Tempo began to pop up. Today, there are so many genres and sub-genres within EDM brought about by the experimentation and divergent styles of many an upcoming artist. So, to break it down is a task in itself. But that's what we're here for! We bring you the most popular electronic music genres, how and where they started, and the sub-styles within them.
Year: Early 1990s
Place: Frankfurt, Germany
Tempo: 125-160 bpm (beats per minute)
It is believed that Trance first emerged in Germany around 1993. But its roots have been traced back to several possible contenders. One of the most common ones is that it is taken from Klaus Schulze's album "Trancefer", or the British act KLF who had a track named "What Time is Love (Pure Trance 1)". Another opinion is that it refers to the feeling of bliss or euphoria that is experienced through the chilled-out, uplifting tone of the music, much like the feeling you derive from hallucinogenic drugs. It is characterized by repetitive melodic phrases, which have progressive highs and low, like a buildup, climax, and the downer. There is a mid-song breakdown, where the rhythm tracks fade to give way to the melody and sensory sounds to take a center stage. Rapid arpeggios and minor keys play a major role in most trance tracks. A thing to note is that though Trance is a genre on its own, it does incorporate styles of Techno, House, Pop, Classical, and Chill-Out styles.

Sub-Genres: Acid Trance, Goa Trance, Ibiza Trance, Psy Trance, Dark Trance, Dream Trance, Electrance, Hard Trance, Euro-Trance, Vocal Trance, Progressive Trance.

Popular Artists: Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul van Dyk, Markus Schulz, Above and Beyond, ATB, Hardwell, 4 Strings, Paul Oakenfold, Sander van Doorn, Gareth Emery, Infected Mushroom, Skazi, Protoculture.
Year: Late 1990s
Place: South England
Tempo: 130-140 bpm
The genre of Dubstep is said to have begun with artists like El-B, Zed Bias, and Oris Jay. Ammunition Promotions began to use the term Dubstep to describe this style of music, which uses clipped samples, heavy bassline, and reverberant drum patterns. Drums, base, guitar, and organ were the foundations of Dubstep before the emergence of electronic equipment. They are syncopated and incorporate tuplets. Snare bars used on the third beat of every bar gives it a shuffled feel, and the extended bass note is rhythmically played with, creating a wobble bass or "wub".

Sub-Genres: Post-dubstep, Brostep, Metalstep, Trap, Wonky.

Popular Artists: Skrillex, Knife Party, Borgore, Loefah, Joker, Nero, Burial, Bassnectar, Excision, Noisia, Chase and Status, Skism, Foreign Beggars, Paranormal Attack, Fantastic Fox, James Blake, Caspa, Rusko, Vex'd.
Year: Early 1980s
Place: Chicago
Tempo: 120-130 bpm
Born in Chicago, it got its influence from Disco merged with experimental styles. It was generally characterized by four-on-the-floor beats, drum machine rhythms, synthesized basslines, and offbeat, hi-hat cymbals. Its name comes from its popularity in underground scenes that were prevalent in warehouses. There is a kick-drum in every beat, and a snare/clap on the alternate, even beat of every bar. Today, it is merged with distinctive melodies, synths, and vocals in certain tracks.

Sub-Genres: Acid House, Ambient House, Balearic Beat.

Popular Artists: David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5, Wolfgang Gartner, Porter Robinson, Avicii, Axwell, Daft Punk, Bingo Players, Kaskade, Eric Prydz, Benny Benassi, Fatboy Slim, Edward Maya, Bob Sinclair, Justice, Zedd, Robert Miles, Afrojack, Steve Aoki, Basement Jaxx, Diplo, Dillon Francis, The KLF, Calvin Harris.
Year: Late 1980s
Place: Detroit
Tempo: 120-150 bpm
The Belleville Three were the first artists to build the foundations of what we now know as Techno, and Kraftwerk can be credited with popularizing this style. It has a repetitive instrumental style, with a 4/4 beat, with a backbeat played by snare or clap, and an open hi-hat on the 8th note. Audio-digital workstations, drum machines, and synthesizers are some of the equipment that are integral to the creation of Techno music. It focuses on progressions that build up the vibe and mood of the song.

Sub-Genres: Acid Techno, Ambient Techno, Minimal Techno, Tech House, Detroit Techno, Ghettotech, Nortec, Symphonic Techno, Schranz.

Popular Artists: SCB, DJ Hell, Plastikman, Spiral Tribe, Jesper Kyd, Hybrid, DJ Umek, Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Sven Vath, Loco Dice, Kraftwerk, Frankie Knuckles, Aphex Twin, The Advent, Adam Beyer, Futureshock, Chris Liebing.
Year: Early 1990s
Place: Bristol, London
Tempo: 150-180 bpm
D&B is an offshoot of jungle and garage music. It is also characterized by odd percussion, heavy bassline with deep sub-bass patterns created with samplers and synths. The kick-drum is accompanied by a syncopation of the breakbeat. It is one of the heaviest and fastest genres in EDM. A major feature is the bass drop, which is the switch of the bassline or rhythm, preceding the build section and breakdown.

Sub-Genres: Drumstep, Breakcore, Ragga Drum and Bass, Hardstep, Darkstep, Techstep, Neurofunk, Jump up, Ambient Drum and Bass, Jazzstep, Liquid Funk, Funkstep, Sambass.

Popular Artists: Nero, DJ Fresh, Pendulum, Netsky, Modestep, Skream, Sub Focus, Andy C, Dub fx, Dirtyphonics, Zinc, Mayhem, Xilent.
Year: Late '90s, Early 2000s
Place: Netherlands
Tempo: 140-150 bpm
Hardstyle has its roots set in the genre of gabber. It evolved with music artists like The Prophet, Luna, and Davo (amongst others) played around with the Hardcore music sound and produced something that is characterized by beats, accompanied with reversed bassline, a loud kick drum, dissonant synthesized melodies, with out-of-tune, distorted sounds.

Sub-Genres: Dubstyle, Raw Hardstyle, Italian Hardstyle, GT Hardstyle, Infexious Hardstyle.

Popular Artists: Ohmicide, DJ Zany, Zatox, Toxic Waste, Dynamics, Bioweapon, Dark By Design.
Year: 1970s
Place: United Kingdom
Tempo: Varied
It kick-started in the United Kingdom when the synthesizer and electric guitars became more commercialized. Artists like Brian Eno, The Orb, and Aphex Twin are considered to have popularized this form of music, but it is originally influenced by artists like Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, and Mike Oldfield. It is noted to have created structured melodies, which produce a certain mood or atmosphere and is considered to take you on an audio-visual journey, the latter created by the effects that the music produces.

Sub-Genres: Dark Ambient, Ambient House, Ambient Industrial, Space/Drone Music, Psybient, Ambient Dub, Ambient Trance, Chillout, Illbient.

Popular Artists: Loop Guru, Woop, Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, DJ Olive, La Monte Young, Neutron 9000, The Orb, Pentonik, Koan, The Future Sound of London, The Black Dog, KLF.
Year: Mid 1980s
Place: U.S.
Tempo: Varied
Although it is unclear still, The Phuture's track, "Acid Tracks" is considered to be the first sample of Acid music that developed around 1985. It is known to have a bass-sound produced with the TB-303 equipment, which produced a "squeaking" sound by modulating frequency and resonance controls, accompanied with the 4/4 beat.

Sub-Genres: New Beat, Acid Techno, Acid Trance, Rave, Goa Trance (these are more like sub-genres that were borne out of Acid, with the exception of Rave music).

Popular Artists: The Phuture, Adonis, A Guy Called Gerald, Baby Ford, Humanoid, Psychic TV, KLF, Fast Eddie, S'Express, The Shamen.
Year: Late 1970s, Early 1980s
Place: Europe, U.S.
Tempo: 125-130 bpm
When Disco declined, Electro (Short for Electro Funk) emerged, when funk artists began experimenting with electronic sound. The Boogie style of music has also influenced this genre. The sound is characterized by the use of drum machines, Roland TR-808 being one of the most used; now replaced by samplers, with syncopated break drums with a snare/clap, and an overall heavy electronic sound. Vocals were rare but if used, were created with talk boxes and vocoding. Today, electro is merged with a lot of EDM styles and ranges, and is mostly defined by synths.

Sub-Genres: Electro House, Electrocore, Electro funk.

Popular Artists: Kraftwerk, Cybotron, Justice, Dada Life, Jesus, SebastiAn, DMX Krew, Grandmaster Flash, Jackal & Hyde, Zapp, Warp 9.
Year: 2000s
Place: Europe
Tempo: 120-130 bpm
Although disco has existed since the '70s, the new inclusion of this style of music is termed as Nu-disco. The term first popped up in 2002, but became mainstream in 2013. It basically works on modifying old age disco and funk with more electronic production. Instruments like pianos, strings, percussions, and vocals are often incorporated with a more electronic vibe, the bassline is usually provided by a bass guitar or a double bass.

Sub-Genres: Space Disco, Retro House.

Popular Artists: Poolside, Tensnake, Lindstrøm, Daft Punk, Duck Sauce, Breakbot, Cassius, Louis La Roche.
Music is a constantly evolving art form. With experimentation and imagination, new sounds and new vibes come to life, and if you are out to move your feat and dance to the beat, you have knowledge of the coolest EDM genres to start you off!