Electronic Dance Music Basics for Beginners

This guide covers the basics of electronic dance music and will help you get started in the genre. You’ll learn about the different subgenres, the history of EDM, and the key elements of the music.

Introduction to Electronic Dance Music

Electronic Dance Music, or EDM for short, is a genre of music characterized by heavy bass and drums. It often incorporates synthesizers and other electronic instruments. The history of EDM can be traced back to the 1970s, when electronic music first became popular.

What is Electronic Dance Music?

Electronic dance music, often abbreviated as EDM, is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres produced largely for dance-based entertainment environments such as nightclubs, festivals, and concerts. EDM is generally produced for playback by DJs who create seamless selections of tracks, called a mix by segueing from one recording to another.

EDM producers also perform their music live in a concert or festival setting in what is sometimes called a live PA. In Europe and North America, EDM is more commonly called simply “dance music” or “dance”. In Japan, it is referred to as Ōtōnu Tenisu Musikku (オートネットテニスミュージック; “automatic net tennis music”).

The term “electronic dance music” and the initialism “EDM” were both first used in the late 1980s by British journalist Matthew Collin and radio DJ / producer Alan Freedman in reference to the rapidly evolving genre that came to be known as acid house. At that time, a distinction was often made between so-called new wave / art-house disco (such as Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder) and commercial disco (such as Chic).

The History of Electronic Dance Music

The history of electronic dance music is long and varied, with roots in many different cultures and genres. Early electronic dance music was often characterized by a repetitive monophonic bassline, simple drum machine patterns, and basic synthesizer sounds. This style of music became popular in the 1980s with the advent of affordable home computers and synthesizers. In the 1990s, electronic dance music evolved further, incorporating more complex sounds and rhythms. Today, electronic dance music is one of the most popular genres in the world, with new subgenres and styles emerging all the time.

The Different Genres of Electronic Dance Music

If you’re new to the world of electronic dance music (EDM), it can be overwhelming trying to figure out all of the different genres. In this article, we’ll give you a quick overview of some of the most popular genres of EDM so you can get a better idea of what you like.


House is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in Chicago in the early 1980s. It was initially influenced by disco, and developed as a more minimal and stripped-down style of dance music. House typically features a four-on-the-floor drum beat, syncopated basslines, and melodic chords. The style became popular in the early 1990s and was associated with the “second summer of love” in UK clubs.

Techno is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in Detroit in the mid-1980s. It is characterized by a repetitive four-on-the-floor beat, often accompanied by hi-hats, claps, and synth basslines. Techno was one of the first genres of electronic dance music to gain popularity in the United States, emerging in the early 1990s.

Trance is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in Germany in the early 1990s. It is characterized by a hypnotic, repetitious sound, often with elements of melody and atmosphere. Trance was initially influenced by techno and house, but has since developed its own unique sound. Trance typically features a regular beat with synthesizer melodies and euphoric or dreamlike atmospheres.


Techno is a form of electronic dance music that emerged in the 1980s. It is characterized by a repetitive 4/4 beat and often has a) an hypnotic quality, b) use of synthesizers and drum machines, and c) sparse arrangements.


Trance is a genre of electronic dance music (EDM) that is characterized by a hypnotic, repetitive sound.Trance music is often dreamy and ethereal, with a driving, energetic beat. The genre developed in the early 1990s, and became popular in clubs and festivals in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Drum and Bass

Drum and bass is a type of electronic dance music characterized by fast breakbeats and heavy basslines. It developed in the early 1990s from a cross between breakbeat hardcore and jungle, and originated in the UK. Drum and bass has since become one of the most popular genres of electronic dance music, with a particular focus on clubs and raves.


Most people associate dubstep with the wub-wub-wub bass sound, but the genre is much more than that. Dubstep began in the late 1990s/early 2000s in the UK as a dark, minimal offshoot of 2-step garage and jungle. The founders of the genre were producers such as Skream, Benga, and Hatcha, who were influenced by Jamaican dub and American hip-hop and techno.

The typical dubstep song is in a minor key and has a slow (usually 70-75 BPM), syncopated 4/4 beat with lots of sub-bass. The hallmark of dubstep is the use of half-time beats, which give the music a sense ofadded tension and ominousness. Many dubstep tracks also have elements of 2-step garage, which lends itself to a more wonky, shuffling feel.

Vocals are not common in original dubstep tracks, but MCs are often featured on remixes and in live sets. The most characteristic element of dubstep is the wub-wub bass sound, created by using a low-pass filter to delete all frequencies above a certain point, then adding distortion. This creates a “booming” sound that can be felt as well as heard.

The Equipment You Need to Get Started

To get started in the world of Electronic Dance Music, you will need some basic equipment. This includes a computer with audio editing software, a MIDI keyboard, and some basic electronic instruments. You will also need a sound system to play your music. In this section, we will cover all the equipment you need to get started making Electronic Dance Music.


One of the first things people think of when they think of electronic dance music is turntables. Turntables are still an important part of the scene, but they’re not as essential as they once were. In the past, most DJs used turntables to play vinyl records. Nowadays, DJs often use digital media players, which are basically just like regular CDs or MP3 playersbut with some extra features that make them easier to use in a live setting.

If you’re interested in using turntables, you’ll need to get a few things together before you can start spinning. In addition to a turntable, you’ll need a mixer and some speakers (or headphones) so you can hear what you’re doing. You’ll also need some vinyl records – usually 12″ ones – and a slipmat to put between the record and the turntable platter.


CDJs are digital turntables that play music from CDs or USB flash drives. They usually have a variety of built-in effects and scratch functions that allow you to manipulate the music in interesting ways. Many DJs prefer CDJs because they are easy to use and they offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to mixing and remixing tracks.


A mixer is vital for any producer looking to create electronic dance music. This is because a mixer allows you to control the levels of each sound source in your track, as well as apply effects to them.

There are many different types of mixers available on the market, from small, portable units to larger, more complex models. You’ll need to decide what features are important to you and how much you’re willing to spend.

One important consideration is the number of channels your mixer has. Channels are the physical inputs on a mixer that allow you to plug in sound sources. The more channels a mixer has, the more sound sources you can mix together. For example, if you want to mix together four different audio tracks, you’ll need a mixer with at least four channels.

Another important consideration is the type of controls your mixer has. The most basic mixers will have simple level controls for each channel, while more advanced mixers may also have EQ (equalization) controls, gain controls, pan controls, and other features.

Finally, keep in mind that some mixers come with built-in effects such as reverb or delay. While these can be handy, they’re not essential, and you can always add effects later using a separate effects processor.

Getting Started

Electronic dance music can be a great way to get into shape, relieve stress, and have fun. However, it can be overwhelming to try and figure out where to start. This guide will cover the basics of electronic dance music, including what it is, its history, and some of the most popular genres.

Finding Music

Now that you have some basic knowledge about electronic dance music, it’s time to start finding the tunes that you like. This can be a bit overwhelming at first because there is so much music out there, but luckily there are a few ways to narrow down your search.
If you know the name of a specific artist or song that you like, you can use a search engine like Google or YouTube to find more music like it. Just enter the name of the artist or song into the search bar and see what comes up. You can also try searching for specific genres or sub-genres of electronic dance music, like “house music” or “drum and bass.”

Another great way to find new music is by listening to radio stations or podcasts that focus on electronic dance music. There are many of these available online, and they can be a great way to hear new tracks and find out about upcoming events. Make sure to check out our own EDMidentity Podcast!
You can also find many electronic dance music tracks for free on websites like SoundCloud and Bandcamp. These sites are perfect for exploring new music, and you can even support your favorite artists by purchasing their tunes if you enjoy them.

Finally, don’t forget about attending live events! Seeing your favorite DJs perform in person is an unforgettable experience, and it’s also a great way to discover new artists. Check out our Event Calendar to see what’s happening in the EDM world near you.

Mixing Music

When it comes to creating electronic dance music, mixing is one of the most important steps. This is where you take all of the different tracks that make up your song and blend them together into a cohesive whole.

There are a few different things that you’ll need to keep in mind when mixing music, but the most important thing is to make sure that all of the tracks sound good together. You’ll also want to pay attention to the overall balance of the mix, making sure that each track can be heard clearly.

One of the best ways to learn how to mix music is to listen to a lot of different DJs and producers and see how they do it. You can also find some helpful tutorials online or in books about mixing. Once you have a good understanding of the basics, you can start experimenting and developing your own style.

Performing Music

This section will help you get started with performing electronic dance music. We’ll cover the basics of setting up your equipment, choosing the right music, and performing for an audience.

Before you start performing, you’ll need to make sure you have the right equipment. You’ll need a computer or laptop with audio editing software, a DJ controller or mixing console, speakers, and headphones. You may also want to invest in a microphone if you plan on MCing or singing along with your music. Once you have your equipment set up, you’ll need to choose the right music. If you’re not sure what kind of music to play, start by checking out some of the most popular EDM genres: house, techno, trance, drum and bass, and dubstep.

Once you have your equipment set up and you know what kind of music you want to play, it’s time to start thinking about your performance. When you’re planning your set, it’s important to consider the different elements that will make up your performance: mixing, song selection, transitions, and Crowd interaction. These elements will come together to create a cohesive performance that will keep your audience engaged and dancing all night long!

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