The Most Important Electronic Dance Music Terms You Need to Know

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re new to the world of electronic dance music (EDM), there are a few terms you should know. Here’s a quick rundown of the most important EDM terms you need to know.


In the world of electronic dance music (EDM), there is a lot of specialized terminology. This can be confusing for newcomers to the scene, but it’s important to know some of the basic terms in order to understand what people are talking about. Here are some of the most important EDM terms you need to know.

BPM: Beats per minute. This is a measure of how fast a song is and is used to help DJs choose tracks that will mix well together.

Break: A section of a song where the beat is dropped out for a period of time, usually to build suspense before the drop.

Buildup: The part of a song leading up to the drop, where the tension and energy are gradually increased.

Drop: The moment in a song when the beat and bass come back in, often accompanied by a sudden surge of energy.

EQ: Equalization. This is used to adjust the levels of different frequencies in a track, making it sound brighter, darker, or changing its overall tone.

FX: Effects. These are sounds that are added to a track to create special effects, such as reverb or delay.

EDM Terms

There are a lot of electronic dance music terms out there, and it can be overwhelming trying to keep up with all of them. However, there are some key terms that you should definitely know. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most important electronic dance music terms you need to know.


DJ is an abbreviation for disc jockey. A DJ is a person who plays prerecorded music for an audience, either live or via a computer system. DJs typically choose and play music based on their personal taste and the genre of the event or venue they are playing at.

The term DJ can refer to both the person playing the music and the equipment they use to do so. DJs typically use turntables, CDJs (digital turntables that play CDs or USB flash drives), or laptop computers loaded with DJ software to control their music. They may also use mixing consoles and live sound systems to further enhance their performance.


In electronic dance music, a producer is someone who creates tracks – either by himself or with collaborator(s). He (or she) will control every sound you hear in a track, from theKick to the Snareto the Hi Hats. His job is to make the track sound as full, complete, and polished as possible before it’s sent off to a label or an artist.


A remix is a piece of media which has been altered from its original state by adding, removing, and/or changing pieces of the item. A song, piece of artwork, book, video, or photograph can all be remixes. The only characteristic of a remix is that it appropriates and changes other materials to create something new.


A mashup is a type of remix in which elements of two or more songs are combined to create a new track. The term “mashup” has been used in the music industry since the late 1990s, but the concept goes back much further. In the early days of recorded music, DJs and producers would often create new tracks by splicing together bits and pieces of existing songs. This technique was used extensively in the 1950s and 1960s by pioneers like DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash.

With the advent of digital audio editing software in the 1990s, it became easier than ever to create mashups. Producers began combining elements of multiple songs with increasing frequency, resulting in a new genre of music that blended various styles and influences.

Today, mashups are more popular than ever, thanks in part to programs like Ableton Live and Logic Pro that make it easy to create them. Some well-known examples of mashups include DJ Earworm’s “United State of Pop” series and Girl Talk’s “Feed the Animals” album.


In electronic music, there are a lot of different styles that have emerged over the years. One of the most popular and well-known genres is house music. House music is a style of music that originated in the Chicago club scene in the early 1980s. It is a genre of dance music that is characterized by a 4/4 time signature, a steady beat, and often features synthesizers and drum machines.


Techno is a genre of electronic dance music (EDM) 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.

The roots of techno are often traced back to the Detroit area in the 1980s, when a number of artists began experimenting with electronic instruments and rhythms. Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson (often referred to as the Belleville Three) are often credited as being among the first to produce and release techno music.

While there is no one universally agreed upon definition of techno, it is typically characterized by a rhythmic pulse that is created using electronic instruments, such as synthesizers and drum machines. This pulsing beat is often accompanied by atmospheric or hypnotic sounds and melodies. Techno music is often played at fast tempos (140–180 beats per minute), and it can be either melodic or minimalistic in its approach.


A type of electronic dance music characterized by hypnotic melodies and rhythms.


Dubstep is a form of electronic dance music that emerged in the early 2000s. It is characterized by its heavy bass and drum patterns, as well as its use of samples and synthesizers. Dubstep is often used in club settings and is popular among young people.

Drum & Bass

Drum & bass (sometimes written as “d&b”, “d’n’b” or simply “DnB”) is a genre of electronic music characterised by fast breakbeats (typically 160–180 beats per minute) with heavy bass and sub-bass lines, sampled sources, and synthesizers. The music grew out of breakbeat hardcore, rave music, and jungle; all of which were associated with the UK rave scene of the early 1990s. Stylistically, drum & bass is generally broken into two main forms: elevating (or jump-up) and industrial (or darkstep).


Now that you know the most important electronic dance music terms, you can start to understand the conversations happening around you. With this knowledge, you can also start to create your own music. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next big thing in EDM.

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