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What kind of music was that?


Below are some of the largest Electonic Music Genres.  Be sure to understand the difference between them.  Consider creating

a chart or outline for this part of your learning.  I have created a resource for you to guide your study....check it out below!

Ambient Music
1970's - Present

Related Genres:

Ambient Drum and Bass

Ambient Dub

Ambient House


Dark Ambient


New Age

Ambient Goa

Ambient music is a genre of music that puts an emphasis on tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure or rhythm. Ambient music is said to evoke an "atmospheric", "visual"  or "unobtrusive" quality. According to one of its pioneers Brian Eno, "Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting." 


As a genre it originated in the United Kingdom at a time when new sound-making devices such as the synthesizer, were being introduced to a wider market. Ambient developed in the 1970s from the experimental and synthesizer-oriented styles of the period. Mike Oldfield, Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis were all influences on the emergence of ambient. Robert Fripp and Brian Eno popularized ambient music in 1972 while experimenting with tape loop techniques. The Orb and Aphex Twin gained commercial success with ambient tracks in the early 1990s. Ambient compositions are often quite lengthy, much longer than more popular, commercial forms of music. Some pieces can reach a half an hour or more in length. 


Ambient had a revival towards the late 1980s with the prominence of house and techno music. Eventually, ambient grew a cult following in the 1990s. By the early 1990s artists such as Aphex Twin were being called ambient house, ambient techno, IDM or "ambient" by the media.  


These are the liner notes to Eno's first album in his ambient series (Music for Airports).

"The concept of music designed specifically as a background feature in the environment was pioneered by Muzak Inc. in the fifties, and has since come to be known generically by the term Muzak. The connotations that this term carries are those particularly associated with the kind of material that Muzak Inc. produces - familiar tunes arranged and orchestrated in a lightweight and derivative manner. Understandably, this has led most discerning listeners (and most composers) to dismiss entirely the concept of environmental music as an idea worthy of attention.

Over the past three years, I have become interested in the use of music as ambience, and have come to believe that it is possible to produce material that can be used thus without being in any way compromised. To create a distinction between my own experiments in this area and the products of the various purveyors of canned music, I have begun using the term Ambient Music.

An ambience is defined as an atmosphere, or a surrounding influence: a tint. My intention is to produce original pieces ostensibly (but not exclusively) for particular times and situations with a view to building up a small but versatile catalogue of environmental music suited to a wide variety of moods and atmospheres.

Whereas the extant canned music companies proceed from the basis of regularizing environments by blanketing their acoustic and atmospheric idiosyncracies, Ambient Music is intended to enhance these. Whereas conventional background music is produced by stripping away all sense of doubt and uncertainty (and thus all genuine interest) from the music, Ambient Music retains these qualities. And whereas their intention is to `brighten' the environment by adding stimulus to it (thus supposedly alleviating the tedium of routine tasks and levelling out the natural ups and downs of the body rhythms) Ambient Music is intended to induce calm and a space to think.

Ambient Music must be able to accomodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting."

-Brian Eno













Music for Airports - AmbientBrian Eno
Europa Part 2 - AmbientAir Sculpture

I personally enjoy listening ambient music when I study or drive.  It can be hypnotic... this is one of my favorite groups.


Related Genres:

Baltimore Breaks

Big Beat




East Coast Rap

Florida Breaks


Gangsta Rap


Hip Hop

Nu Skool Breaks

Progressive Breaks



West Coast Rap 


Breakbeat is the “parent” of all the subgenres such as bigbeat, funky breaks, nu skool breaks and so on. Along side styles like house music – breakbeat is one of the oldest types of electronic dance music. With its foundation of making the funky beats the main attraction of the tune – breakbeat has managed to establish itself as one of the major genres within electronic music since the early 80s up to now. 


The word “break”  derives from the “breakdown”, a part of the funk or disco records where most of all the other instruments drop away, leaving the drummer, or maybe the drummer and percussionist, or drum and bassist, to play their parts unaccompanied. This provides an instant rhythm section to create a new tune.


With the rise of sampling in electronic music, a genre was born out of one specific drum loop that set the stage for several genres to follow:


The Amen Break: was a drum-solo performed by Gregory Cylvester Coleman. The 'Amen Break' or 'Amen' is a frequently used sampled drum loop in hip hop, jungle and drum and bass music. It is 5.20 seconds long and consists of 4 bars of the drum-solo sampled from the song "Amen, Brother" as performed by the 1960s funk and soul outfit The Winstons.





The Amen Break The Winstons
Amidst the RaindropsJonathan Shelly
Girlboy Song Breakbeat ExampleAphex Twins

The video to the right is packed full of important information.

Unfortunately, it is dryer than a camel's mouth after eating peanut butter in the sun.  I added some graphics to the original to keep you awake.  It really is important info so do your best not to drool on the computer.



Ambient Breakbeat:  Listen past the intro to hear the iconic drum groove.

With the faster nature of this track, Aphex Twin are leaning towards a Drum and Bass Style... which is a faster version of the standard Breakbeat.

TIP: Click on the gear in the window above and set the speed to 1.25.  It makes the experience more tolerable if you are suffering.  

Be sure to still get the info.  :-)  It actually is interesting.


Related Genres:

Acid Techno

Detroit Techno




Minmal Techno/Glitch

Hardcore Techno

  • 4-beat

  • Bouncy Techno

  • gabba

  • New Beat

  • Speedcore/Terrorcore

Rave Music


U.K. Techno

Euro Techno

Yorkshire Bleeps&Bass 


Techno is a form of electronic dance music that emerged in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States during the mid-to-late 1980s.   The first recorded use of the word techno in reference to a specific genre of music was in 1988. Many styles of techno now exist, but Detroit techno is seen as the foundation upon which a number of subgenres have been built. 


In Detroit techno resulted from the melding of African American music including Chicago house, funk, electro, and electric jazz with electronic music by artists such as Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder, and Yellow Magic Orchestra    Pioneering producer Juan Atkins cites Toffler's phrase "techno rebels" as inspiring him to use the word techno to describe the musical style he helped to create.  


Stylistically, techno is generally repetitive instrumental music, oftentimes produced for use in a continuous DJ set. The central rhythmic component is most often in common time (4/4), where time is marked with a bass drum on each quarter note pulse, a backbeat played by snare or clap on the second and fourth pulses of the bar, and an openhi-hat sounding every second eighth note. The tempo tends to vary between approximately 120 to 150 beats per minute (bpm), depending on the style of techno. The creative use of music production technology, such as drum machines, synthesizers, and digital audio workstations, is viewed as an important aspect of the music's aesthetic. Many producers use retro electronic musical devices to create what they consider to be an authentic techno sound. Drum machines from the 1980s such as Roland's TR-808 and TR-909 are highly used, and software emulations of such retro technology are popular among techno producers.

Click on this graphic and go through "Detroit Roots" only.

Clear - Techno ExampleCybotron

In the early eighties a trio of pioneers in Detroit began merging the sounds of synthpop and Italo-disco with funk. Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson were high school friends who went to dance parties where the music ranged from Kraftwerk to Parliament. They listened to an influential radio DJ, The Electrifying Mojo, who played European imports alongside Prince and the B-52’s. In 1983 Atkins and Richard Davies, aka 3070, released the hit “Clear” under the name Cybotron. Techno was born.

1980's -Present

Related Genres:

2 Step

Acid House

Chicago House

Deep House

French House

Freestyle House

Micro House

Pumpin' House

Progressive House

Tech House

Euro House

Jump House

Funky House


Ghetto House

Hard House


Hip House

House music is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in Chicago in the early 1980s. It was initially popularized in Chicago, circa 1984. House music quickly spread to other American cities like Detroit, New York City, and Newark - all of which developed their own regional scenes. In the mid-to-late 1980s, house music became popular in Europe as well as major cities in South America, and Australia. Since the early to mid-1990s, house music has been infused in mainstream pop and dance music worldwide.


Early house music was generally dance-based music characterized by repetitive 4/4 beats, rhythms mainly provided by drum machines, off-beat hi-hat cymbals, and synthesized basslines. While house displayed several characteristics similar to disco music, it was more electronic and minimalistic,[and the repetitive rhythm of house was more important than the song itself. House music in the 2010s, while keeping several of these core elements, notably the prominent kick drum on every beat, varies a lot in style and influence, ranging from the soulful and atmospheric deep house to the more minimalistic microhouse. House music has also fused with several other genres creating fusion subgenres like shown above.

Right Kind of Love - Chicago HouseLoop Doctor

Watch Part 1 of Pump up the Volume

If you like it, use the link to the right to watch the whole thing at home.

Acid Trax - Acid House ExamplePhuture

House and Techno are emerging a the same time and blending genres.  Listen for the TB-303 and TR 808... very much a tool from the techno genre - ACID HOUSE

PUMP UP THE VOLUME:  The complete History of House Music Video   This is a great resource for those that have a significant interest in house music.   Not for in class use...too long.

Drum and Bass/ Jungle
1990's -Present

Related Genres:




Drill and Bass




Liquid Funk




Drum and bass is a genre of electronic music also known as Jungle which emerged in England in the early 1990s. The genre is characterized by fast breakbeats (typically between 150–180 beats per minute) with heavybass and sub-bass lines.  The "bass line" is usually created with sampled sources or synthesizers.  The popularity of drum and bass at its commercial peak ran parallel to several other homegrown dance styles in the UK including big beat and hard house. A major influence on jungle and drum and bass was the original Jamaican dub and reggae sound. The sound of the Roland TR-808 kick drum is an important element of the genre. Another feature of the style is the complex syncopation of the drum tracks' breakbeat.  



Tarantula - Drum and Bass ExamplePendulum
Atlantis - I need you - Jungle/DnBLTJ Bukem

The Pendulum group was notable for a distinctive sound, mixing hard rock with electronic music, and developing to cover a wider range of genres. 

Arguably the prime innovator in the development of jungle from its early status as an offshoot of hardcore techno into the respected, stylistic genre it became by the end of the 1990s, LTJ Bukem gained fame as an auteur in all fields of the drum'n'bass movement: as a top-flight breakbeat DJ, owner and label head of the Good Looking/Looking Good stable of labels and, of course, for his recordings. 

1990's -Present

Related Genres:


Acid Trance

Anthem Trance

Dream Trance


Epic Trance

Goa Trance

Ibiza Trance


hard Trance

Hardcore Trance

Heavy Metal Goa


Minimalist Trance

Progressive Trance

Psychedelic Trance

Tech Trance

Vocal Trance



Trance is a genre of electronic dance music that developed in the 1990s in Germany.  It is characterized by a tempo of between 125 to mid 140 beats per minute(BPM), repeating melodic phrases,  and a musical form that distinctly builds up and down throughout a track.  Although trance is a genre of its own, it liberally incorporates influences from other electronic music styles.  Trance employs a 4/4 time signature, and has a BPM of 130-160 beats per minute, somewhat faster than house music. Early tracks were sometimes slower. A kick drum is placed on every downbeat and a regular open hi-hat is often placed on the off-beat. Some simple extra percussive elements are usually added, and major transitions, builds or climaxes are often foreshadowed by lengthy 'snare rolls' - a quick succession of equally spaced snare drum hits that builds in volume towards the end of a measure or phrase. , said to have originated in the very early 90's. Characterized by less percussion than techno, more melody, arpeggiated melody, and repetitive melodic chords/arpeggios.



The Age of Love - TranceJam & Spoon

"The Age of Love" is the (arguably) recognized first Trance track although there were a few proto-trance records before it. 1992's Jam & Spoon mix is when everyone noticed however. 

Bust a Move - PsytranceInfected Mushroom

"One of the first albums to bring Israeli Psytrance to more 'mainstream' audiences, and contributed to the gradually growing popularity of the genre worldwide. Classical Mushroom, being one of the most well known albums in the genre today. The album showcased a track often cited as their most popular track, 'Bust A Move'. This album is commonly referred to as the best example of the group's efforts."~wiki 

"Classical Mushroom was probably my first real venture into both Infected Mushroom, Psytrance, and electronic music in general. It was a good gateway into the psytrance genre, and I keep coming back to it. There are some great moments in here, with dramatic build-ups and eerie samples, and the use of live guitars is a nice touch."~bcheeseman


There are interesting blends of many genres in this selection. Listen for the types of arpeggiated synths.  The kick breaks away from the house 4 on the floor over time, so it isn't really house.  Smooth synths, melodic lines, and interesting harmonies make this truly unique.    2005


Related Genres:

Acid Jazz

Balearic Beat





Nu Jazz

Trip Hop


Downtempo (sometimes referred to as "chillout", "chill" or "downbeat") is a genre of electronic music similar to ambient music, but usually with a beat or groove. The tempo, as well as the drum patterns of each track can vary. The beat can be restrained or simple. Sometimes the beats are more complicated and more foregrounded instead of being in the background, but even then they are usually less intense than other kinds of electronic music like trance and house. The tempo is often slower than that of traditional electronic dance music. Often the names "chill-out music" or "chill-out" are used to refer to songs demonstrative of the genre, but those names also refer to other styles of music, and downtempo encompasses a wider variety of styles than those terms alone would indicate. Due to the relaxing and often sensual or romantic feel of most downtempo music, it is a popular form of background music in 'chill out rooms' of dance parties, and many alternative cafes.  



Fist Cool Hives - Down TempoMoby

"Moby produced an ambient album, 'Ambient', in 1993 a year after his self-title techno album. He then released his most diverse album, Everything Is Wrong, in 1995. Early copies (in the UK at least) came with a special bonus CD called Underwater, a 43-minute five-track instrumental ambient CD. Everything Is Wrong earned early critical praise (Spin Magazine named it Album of The Year) and some commercial success."

Sweet Lullaby - Down TempoDeep Forest

"Deep Forest is a musical group consisting of two French musicians, Michel Sanchez and Eric Mouquet. They compose a new kind of world music, mixing ethnic with electronic sounds  and chillout beats. They were nominated for a Grammy Award in 1993 for Best World Music Album, and in 1996 they won the Award for the album Boheme. Their albums have sold over 10 million copies."

1998 and beyond   

Related Genres:

Purple Sound



 Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in South London, England. It emerged in the late 1990s as a development within a lineage of related styles such as 2-step garage, broken beat, drum and bass, jungle, dub and reggae. The music generally features syncopated drum and percussion patterns with bass lines that contain prominent sub bass frequencies.


Dubstep rhythms are usually syncopated, and often shuffled or incorporating tuplets. The tempo is nearly always in the range of 138–142 beats per minute, with a clap or snare usually inserted every third beat in a bar.[14] In its early stages, dubstep was often more percussive, with more influences from 2‑step drum patterns. A lot of producers were also experimenting with tribal drum samples, such as Loefah's early release "Truly Dread" and Mala's "Anti-War D


One characteristic of certain strands of dubstep is the wobble bass, often referred to as the "wub", where an extended bass note is manipulated rhythmically. This style of bass is typically produced by using a low-frequency oscillator to manipulate certain parameters of a synthesiser such as volume, distortion or filter cutoff. The resulting sound is atimbre that is punctuated by rhythmic variations in volume, filter cutoff, or distortion. This style of bass is a driving factor in some variations of dubstep, particularly at the more club-friendly end of the spectrum. 

Excellent Choice - DubstepStephen Walking
Early 2000's  

Will this genre expand or just be a subgenre of a larger form?


Trap music incorporates an extensive use of multi-layered hard-lined and melodic synthesizers; crisp, grimy and rhythmic snares; deep 808 sub-bass kick drums or heavy sub-bass lines; double-time, triple-time and similarly divided hi-hats; and a cinematic and symphonic utilization of string, brass and keyboard instruments creating an overall dark, harsh, grim and bleak atmosphere for the listener. These primary characteristics would go on to be the signature sound of trap music originating from producer Shawty Redd. The speed of a typical trap beat has a BPM of 140. 


The term "trap" was literally used to refer to the place where drug deals are made and how it is difficult to escape the lifestyle. The term originated inAtlanta, Georgia where rappers Cool Breeze, Dungeon Family, Outkast, Goodie Mob and Ghetto Mafia were some of the first to use the term in their music. Fans and critics started to refer to rappers whose primary lyrical topic was drug dealing, as "trap rappers."


Within EDM, songs often have multiple build-ups to "drops" which are characterized by a pounding bass drum in a four on the floor pattern.[25] However, EDM trap music generally deviates from this formula, incorporating drops that utilize heavier, rhythmic bass drum hits that may fall on the offbeats of the beat. This is occasionally used to throw-off the listener's expectations, or create more powerful drops than a typical EDM song might contain.

24 Trap MuzikTI

During the 2000s, trap began to emerge after the success of a number of albums and singles released at the time. In 2003, trap music broke into mainstream with the release of T.I.'s second studio album Trap Muzik. It achieved major commercial success, selling over 2.1 million copies. The album's lead single, "24's", was featured on EA's popular video game Need for Speed: Underground. The album also included the Top 40 hits "Rubber Band Man" and "Let's Get Away."

Arabian Riches - EDM with Trap influenceAudial
Harlem ShakeBaauer

 In 2013, a fan-made video of electronic trap producer Baauer's track "Harlem Shake" became an internet meme, propelling the track to become the first trap song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100

Contemporary Genres
2010's and beyond 

What is current?  What is new?  Where is this all going?



You will be asked to listen to a recording and determine what genre it belongs to.  Be sure to listen to enough of the track so that you can recognize the key element of the genre.  Introductions can fool you.  If you struggle, review the key elements and try again.  





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