Electronic Music: It’s History and How It’s Made

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


This blog post will explore the history of electronic music and how it’s made. We’ll start by looking at the origins of electronic music and how it has evolved over time. Then, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of how electronic music is produced, from the instruments used to the software employed.


Electronic music has come a long way since its beginnings in the early 20th century. Today, it is one of the most popular genres of music, with a wide variety of sub-genres that cater to all sorts of different tastes. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of electronic music and how it is made.

electronic music was first created in the early 1900s, with the invention of the Theremin by Russian inventor Leon Theremin. The Theremin was one of the first electronic musical instruments and it works by allowing the player to control sound waves with their hands. This was a revolutionary concept at the time and it paved the way for further development of electronic music.

In the 1920s, German engineer Hans Zimmermann created one of the first electronic synthesizers, called the Trautonium. This instrument was capable of producing a wide range of sounds and was used by a number of famous composers, including Paul Hindemith and Igor Stravinsky.

By the 1950s, electronic music had begun to grow in popularity and a number of different styles were starting to emerge. One of the most influential figures in this period was Italian composer Luigi Russolo, who wrote The Art Of Noises – one of the first-ever books on electronic music.Russolo believed that noise could be used as a musical resource and he created a number of devices that could generate different kinds of noise, which he then used in his compositions.

Throughout the rest of the 20th century, electronic music continued to evolve and grow in popularity. In more recent years, there has been a resurgence in interest in vintage synthesizers and other related equipment, with many manufacturers now producing modern versions of classic instruments.

With its origins dating back over 100 years, electronic music is one of the oldest genres around. It has come a long way since its beginnings and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon!

A Brief History of Electronic Music

Electronic music has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the early 20th century. In the beginning, electronic music was nothing more than a series of beeps and boops created by early computers and other mechanical devices. But over time, electronic music has evolved into a complex and multi-faceted genre with a rich history and many sub-genres.

Early Electronic Instruments

How did electronic music get its start? It all began with early electronic instruments, which were developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These instruments used a variety of technologies, including electrical circuits, magnetic discs, and vacuum tubes.

One of the earliest electronic instruments was the theremin, which was invented by Russian physicist Lev Theremin in 1920. The theremin was played by waving your hands in the air near two antennas. This would create a sound that was similar to a human voice.

The theremin was followed by other early electronic instruments, such as the ondes Martenot (invented in 1928) and the trautonium (invented in 1930). These instruments were used by composers such as Olivier Messiaen and Edgar Varèse.

In the 1950s, electronic music began to be created with tape machines. Composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio used tape machines to create sound collages. They would cut up pieces of audio tape and splice them together to create new sounds.

Today, electronic music is created with a variety of digital technologies, including synthesizers, samplers, and computer software.

The Birth of Electronic Music

In the late 19th century, inventors started creating instruments and devices that used electricity to make sound. These early electronic musical instruments were called electromechanical instruments. One of the first was the theremin, invented by Russian physicist Lev Theremin in 1920.

In the 1930s, British composer and engineer Gustav Holst wrote a piece of music called “The Planets” using an early electronic instrument called the trautonium. In the 1940s, Italian composer Luigi Russolo wrote a piece of music called “The Art of Noises” using noisy electromechanical devices he built himself.

In 1955, American composers Milton Babbitt and Roger Sessions used an early computer to compose a piece of music called “Vision and Prayer.” This was the first time a computer was used to compose music.

In the 1960s, composers began using electronic oscillators, synthesizers, and other types of electronic equipment to create new sounds. In 1966, Russian-born composer Vladimir Ussachevsky and American physicist Gottfried Michael Koenig wrote a piece of music using a computer. This was one of the first pieces of electronic music composed using a computer.

The Rise of Electronic Music

The rise of electronic music can be traced back to the early 1900s, when composers began experimenting with new sounds created by electricity. In the 1920s, composers like Edgard Varèse and George Antheil were using new electronic instruments to create avant-garde music that pushed the boundaries of what was possible.

In the 1930s and 1940s, composers like John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen continued to experiment with electronics, using them to create new sounds and textures. This period also saw the development of important new electronic instruments, such as the Theremin and the Ondes Martenot.

The 1950s saw the birth of musique concrète, a form of music that used recorded sound as its primary material. Composers like Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry were pioneers in this field, creating works that were both innovative and influential.

In the 1960s, electronic music became more widely accessible thanks to affordable tape recorders and synthesizers. This period saw the rise of important new genres like drone music, minimalism, and electronica. composer Tod Dockstader was also an important figure in this era, creating impressive works using only tape manipulation.

Today, electronic music is more popular than ever before. Thanks to digital technology, anyone can create their own electronic music using a computer or a smartphone. And with a wide range of styles to choose from, there’s something for everyone

How Electronic Music is Made

To understand how electronic music is made, it’s important to know a little bit about its history. Electronic music has been around for centuries, dating back to the early 1800s. In the early days, it was mostly used for classically-influenced pieces and for avant-garde music.

The Synthesizer

The first electronic musical instruments were invented in the early 1900s, and the synthesizer came into existence in the 1930s. This revolutionary instrument allowed musicians to create sounds that had never been heard before. The first synthesizers were large, expensive and required a great deal of expertise to operate. But over time, they became smaller, cheaper and more user-friendly, making them accessible to more people.

Today, there are many different types of synthesizers, each with its own capabilities and features. But they all share one common goal: to create new and unique sounds.

Synthesizers can imitate other instruments or create their own unique sounds. They can be played by musicians or programmed to play automatically. They can be used to create both simple and complex sounds, depending on the settings used.

Synthesizers are found in a wide range of settings, from dance clubs to movie scores. They are used by beginner musicians and experienced professionals alike. And they continue to evolve as technology advances, making new sound possibilities possible.


In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a sound recording in a different song or piece. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music, who physically manipulated tape loops or vinyl records on a phonograph. By the late 1960s, the use of tape loop sampling influenced the development of minimalist music and the production of psychedelic rock and jazz fusion. Hip hop music was the first popular music based on the art of sampling – being born from 1970s block parties in New York City, and particularly from dubbed breaks – bits of funk songs played by DJ Kool Herc that he isolated by cueing them back to back on two turntables

Today, sampling is most often done with a sampler, which can be a piece of hardware or a software playback program. However, turntables are still used to sample parts of vinyl records. Often samplers offer filters, modulation via low frequency oscillation and other synthesizer-like processes that allow the original sound to be modified in many different ways. Most samplers have built-in envelopes and low-pass filters which allow the original sound to be moefied notes played on a keyboard, drums played by a drummer trigger pads or sequencer.


In the early days of electronic music, sequences were created by laboriously recording and editing individual notes played on keyboard instruments. This process was later replaced by more sophisticated sequencing software that allowed for greater control over tempo, dynamics, and other parameters. Today, sequences can be generated automatically by algorithms or created manually by artists.

Algorithmic sequences are often used in academic and experimental music, as well as in popular genres such as techno and EDM. These sequences can be generated by a variety of software programs, each with its own capabilities and limitations. Manually created sequences are more common in commercial music, where they are used to create catchy hooks or familiar melodies.

Sequences can be simple or complex, depending on the desired effect. Simple sequences may contain just a few notes, while complex ones can have dozens or even hundreds of notes. Most sequences use repetition to create a sense of forward momentum, but some may also include variations to keep things interesting.


In conclusion, electronic music has come a long way since its inception in the early 20th century. Today, there are countless different genres and sub-genres of electronic music, each with its own unique sound and style. Whether you’re a fan of house, techno, EDM, or any other type of electronic music, there’s sure to be a style that you’ll enjoy. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll even be making your own electronic music!

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