Neural Networks and the Evolution of 90s Electronic Dance Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A look at how Neural Networks have influenced the evolution of 90s electronic dance music and the artists that have used them.


From the introduction of the Roland TB-303 in 1982, electronic dance music has been deeply intertwined with technology. The 303 was originally designed as an automatic bass guitar player for guitarists, but soon found its way into the hands of pioneering producers like acid house pioneers Phuture. The 303 allowed producers to create sounds that had never been heard before, and it quickly became an essential tool for making electronic dance music.

In the early 1990s, a new type of electronic dance music began to emerge that would come to be known as rave. This new sound was characterized by a heavy use of breakbeats and samples, and it was quickly embraced by ravers all over the world. As rave music evolved, so too did the technology that was used to create it. Samplers became more powerful and affordable, and new types of synthesizers were introduced that allowed producers to create even more unique sounds.

At the same time, a new generation of producers was beginning to experiment with artificial neural networks. These systems were inspired by the biological neural networks that make up the human brain, and they showed promise for creating realistic sounding artificial intelligence. In 1992, researcher Alexey Potapov used an artificial neural network to generate realistic drum patterns, and in 1995, researcher Jiří Kosinka used a neural network to generate realistic melodies.

These early experiments would lay the groundwork for a new form of electronic dance music that would come to be known as intelligent dance music or IDM. IDM is characterized by intricate sound design, complex rhythms, and a focus on melody and emotion. This new style of music was forged in the late 1990s by a small group of pioneering producers who were pushing the boundaries of what was possible with technology. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of those pioneers and trace the evolution of IDM from its earliest beginnings up to today.

What are neural networks?

Neural networks are a type of artificial intelligence that are designed to mimic the way the human brain processes information. They are often used for tasks such as image recognition or pattern recognition.

Neural networks have been around for many years, but they have become more popular in recent years due to advances in computing power and data storage. Neural networks are now being used for a wide variety of tasks, including facial recognition, self-driving cars, and even creating music.

The evolution of electronic dance music can be traced back to the early 1990s, when artists began experimenting with using neural networks to create music. The first notable example was the song “Superstition” by The Prodigy, which used a neural network to generate the melody. Since then, many other artists have used neural networks to create songs and albums, including Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, and Venetian Snares.

Neural networks are an important part of the history of electronic dance music, and they continue to be used by artists today.

How have neural networks been used in music composition?

In the early days of neural networks, they were used primarily for signal processing tasks such as speech recognition and image classification. But as the capabilities of neural networks have increased, they have been applied to more creative tasks such as music composition.

There are two main ways that neural networks can be used for music composition: rule-based systems and machine learning. In a rule-based system, the composer pre-defines a set of rules that the neural network will use to generate music. This can be something as simple as choosing which notes to play in what order, or it can be more complex, such as defining the harmony and rhythm of a piece.

Machine learning, on the other hand, allows the neural network to learn from data rather than rules. This data can come from many sources, including Midi files, audio recordings, or even sheets of music. Once the data is fed into the neural network, it will learn to recognize patterns and generate its own compositions based on those patterns.

Neural networks have been used to generate both melody and harmony, and they have also been used to create entire pieces of music from scratch. Some notable examples include Google Magenta’s Melodia and Adobe’s Neural DSP.

What are the benefits of using neural networks in music composition?

Using neural networks in music composition has a number of benefits. First, it can help create more realistic and lifelike compositions by emulating the way that the human brain processes music. This can result in more emotionally powerful and evocative music. Additionally, neural networks can help to create original and unique composition, as they are not limited by the same conventions and rules that humans are. This can lead to more innovative and experimental music. Finally, neural networks can help to automate the music composition process, making it faster and easier for composers to create new pieces of music.

Are there any drawbacks to using neural networks in music composition?

As with any technology, there are some potential drawbacks to using neural networks in music composition. One concern is that the music produced by neural networks may lack originality, or be overly repetitive. Another worry is that, as neural networks become more widely used, composers may rely too heavily on them, and lose the ability to compose music without them.

How has electronic dance music evolved since the early 1990s?

In the early 1990s, electronic dance music was mostly associated with underground clubs and parties. The music was often experimental and not very accessible to mainstream audiences. However, in the past few years, there has been a resurgence of interest in this type of music. EDM is now more popular than ever, with festivals and clubs all over the world dedicated to this type of music.

So, how has electronic dance music evolved since the early 1990s? One major change is the way that the music is produced. In the early days of EDM, producers would often create entire tracks using only a few synthesizers and drum machines. Nowadays, producers have access to a much wider range of tools and technologies, which gives them a lot more flexibility when creating new sounds.

Another significant change is the way that EDM is experienced by its listeners. In the past, most people would listen to EDM tracks on vinyl records or CDs. Nowadays, with the advent of digital platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, people can listen to EDM tracks anywhere and at any time. This has made it easier for people to discover new artists and get into the genre.

Finally, one of the biggest changes in EDM has been its move into the mainstream. In the past, electronic dance music was mostly heard in underground clubs and parties. However, in recent years, it has started to gain mainstream popularity. This is thanks in part to its increased accessibility and its ability to appeal to a wide range of people.

What role, if any, have neural networks played in the evolution of electronic dance music?

Neural networks are a type of artificial intelligence that are modeled after the brain. Neural networks are able to learn and recognize patterns. They have been used in a variety of fields, including music.

Some people believe that neural networks have played a role in the evolution of electronic dance music. This is because neural networks can create new sounds by combining and altering existing sounds. This can lead to the creation of new genres of music or the refinement of existing genres.

However, it is important to note that neural networks are not responsible for all changes in electronic dance music. Other factors, such as technology and cultural trends, also play a role in the evolution of this genre.


In conclusion, neural networks have played a significant role in the evolution of electronic dance music. By providing musicians with new ways to create and compose music, neural networks have facilitated the emergence of new genres and subgenres of EDM. In the future, it is likely that neural networks will continue to have a major impact on the direction of EDM, as well as other genres of music.

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