History of Electronic Music

Electronic music DJ

The history of electronic music is difficult at times to encapsulate. The largely United States-based development of the musical genre began in the late 1960s and developed as technology itself began to increase. The perspective of the genre has also changed over time. Initially, funkier guitar pedal sound effects were considered "electronic" while nowadays electronic music refers to music made almost entirely electronically.

The History of Electronic Music

Electronic music has grown to be a body of diverse genres ranging from indie-electronica to dubstep to house trance.

Electonic Music Through The Years

Electronic music could not begin to develop until technology that the genre relies on began to exist. With the development of Edison's phonograph, music was able to be both recorded and replayed in a different manner than ever before. Though slight, this development not only launched the history of electronic music but was the starting ground of the music industry itself. The development of the theremin allowed many to begin "experimenting" with more electronic-based forms of music. Even as early as the 1910s, futuristic musicians found themselves experimenting with "noise music" made without any traditional instruments. At the time, this version of "music" was considered "noise" and a nuisance to many.

In the early 1940s, with improved radio technology, experiments using frequency began. These also helped paved the way to the development of the tape recorder - making musicians much quicker to record. For musical artists interested in electronics, the magnetic tape in cassettes opened up a new world as tape could be slowed down, sped up, run backwards, physically cut and put together again and much more. This type of technology was soon tied together with echo machines for reverb noises and with video for more screechy sounds. These developments allowed for more melodic, longer stretches of electronic music. These developments also paved the way for Piere Schaffer's October 5th, 1948 broadcast of the first "musique concrete" piece.

In Germany, WDR Cologne's Studio for Electronic Music opened. This studio tied itself to the radio station NWDR and allowed those combining musical elements to develop them as best as they could. This start in Germany helped to divide "American" electronic music from the European versions - a divide that devout electronic fans still find themselves facing sylistically. In America, short-termed projects at the New York School and Columbia-Princeton developed using magnetic tape and paid studio time. At Columbia, Vladimir Ussahevsky began to show how the dissonance from the tape recorded could be used to create true sound effects and often presented demonstrations of this before moving on to musical exhibitions in hall environments.

The 70s and Beyond

Electronic music remained largely bound to the magnetic tape in cassettes until the 1970s when the development of the Moog came about. This device allowed for synthetic noises to be made easily and was largely experimented with by both classical performers and newer electronic enthusiasts. The development of MIDI instruments in the 1980s helped to push this along even farther. Both of these developments helped to lead the way for "electronic music" to become a larger, diverse collection of genres. The late 1980s and early 1990s began to see the use of electronic music as a "dance music" form - dividing the genres even further between types of dance music. There was trance, house, happy hardcore, drum and bass, plus many more divisions. There were also musical artists towards the late 1990s and early 2000s who began to incorporate electronic effects into other genres like rock and hip-hop.

Modern Electronic Music

At this point in the history of electronic music, the genre is now very difficult to define. While the style started out as an insult to some, it is now a part of many musical styles from classical music to hip-hop and has many devoted subsets within "formal" electronica genres. This ever-developing art form continues with new developments in style as well as technology.

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History of Electronic Music