Music Note: Techno

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Techno music is a type of electronic dance music that emerged in the late 1980s. The genre is characterized by a repetitive four on the floor beat and a synthesizer-driven sound.

What is Techno?

Techno is a type of electronic dance music that was first developed in Detroit, Michigan in the early 1980s. The word “techno” is sometimes used to describe any kind of electronic dance music, but it is actually a specific genre with its own characteristic sound. Techno music is generally made with synthesizers and drum machines, and it often has a repetitive, hypnotic quality.

The History of Techno

Techno is a genre of electronic dance music that emerged in Detroit, Michigan in the United States during the mid-to-late 1980s. The first techno recordings were made by Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson, who were known as The Belleville Three. Techno is characterized by a fast tempo, repetitive synthesizer patterns, and electronic effects.

Early 1990s

In the early 1990s, Detroit was home to a music scene that incorporated elements from many different genres, including house, techno, and hip-hop. This unique blend of styles was influenced by the city’s multi-cultural history and its location on the border between the United States and Canada.

The first techno record was released in 1992, and the genre quickly gained popularity in Europe and North America. By the mid-1990s, techno had become one of the most popular forms of electronic dance music.

Today, techno is still hugely popular, with fans all over the world. The music has evolved over time, but it still retains its origins in Detroit’s underground club scene.

Late 1990s

In the late 1990s, a group of producers and DJs in Detroit began to experiment with electronic music, combining elements of house, techno, and electro. This new sound — which came to be known as “techno” — was characterized by its use of synthesizers, drum machines, and turntables (or samplers). Detroit’s techno scene quickly gained notoriety for its parties, which were often held in warehouses or abandoned factories. The music soon spread beyond Detroit, with DJs and producers in other cities (such as Berlin) adopting the sound.


In the early 2000s, techno music saw a return to roots. Artists such as Richie Hawtin, Ellen Allien, and Marco Carola rediscovered the hypnotic and repetitive elements ofChicago house and Detroit techno. This new generation of techno producers focused on creating long-form tracks that were designed to be played in clubs for hours at a time. These marathon sets allowed DJs to explore the full range of emotions that techno music is capable of evoking.

The Sound of Techno

The techno sound is typically very synthetic, created with electronic instruments. It is often repetitive and has a minimalistic style. Techno is often used for dance parties and is sometimes called “electronic dance music” or “EDM.”

Drum Machines

Techno is largely based around the use of drum machines, especially the Roland TR-808 and TR-909, which are highly influential in both techno and hip hop. Other drum machines, such as the LinnDrum, have also been used.


Techno music is generally produced with synthesizers, drum machines and digital audio workstations. It is typically repetitive, often with simple synthesizer melodies and basslines accompanied by electronic drum kits. These elements are often combined to produce a basic four-on-the-floor beat.

The earliest techno tracks were produced in the mid-1980s in Detroit, Michigan by pioneers such as Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. By the late 1980s, the use of personal computers to create music had become commonplace, and techno tracks began to feature increasingly complex production techniques. The Detroit sound achieved widespread popularity in clubs throughout Europe and North America by the early 1990s.

Techno Artists

Techno is a form of electronic dance music that was developed in the late 1980s. The music is characterized by a strong beat and often has a science fiction or futuristic theme. Techno is often played in clubs and is also popular at music festivals. Some notable techno artists include Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin, and Jeff Mills.

Jeff Mills

Jeff Mills is a techno artist from Detroit, Michigan. He is a founder of the Underground Resistance movement and a member of the techno group Drexciya. Mills has released numerous solo albums and singles, as well as collaborative projects with other artists. He has also produced soundtracks for films and television.

Richie Hawtin

Richie Hawtin is a Canadian DJ and producer who is widely considered to be one of the most influential figures in techno music. He is best known for his work as Plastikman, a result of his many years spent living and performing in Detroit, the birthplace of techno. His unique style has earned him a large and loyal following, and he continues to perform and produce new music today.

Carl Cox

Carl Cox (born 29 July 1962) is a British techno DJ, house and trance producer. In the 1980s, Cox was a rave and hip hop DJ. He performed at clubs including Sunset Park in Ibiza. He has played at nightclubs including The End in London, where he was resident DJ from 1998 to 2000. In 1995, he founded the record label Intec Records with Jon Mancini.

Cox has hosted his own shows and podcasts, including Carl Cox & Friends, Global and The Revolution Continues. His sets are a mixture of new material released on various labels as well as tracks from the major Techno labels such as Paul Woolford’s Special Request and Extrasolar on EPM Music. As of 2018, Carl Cox resides in Australia.

The Future of Techno

Techno is a form of electronic dance music that emerged in the 1980s. It is characterized by a repetitive four on the floor beat and often produced with synthesizers and drum machines. The genre was pioneered by artists like Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, and Derrick May, and it inspired subsequent genres like house and trance.

In the 1990s, techno was often associated with illegal rave parties. This gave the genre a bad reputation, but in recent years techno has undergone a renaissance, thanks to the efforts of forward-thinking promoters and clubs. These days, techno is enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life.

The future of techno looks bright. New technologies are giving producers more ways to create innovative music, and the genre is gaining popularity around the world. As more people discover the joys of techno, the genre will continue to evolve and grow in popularity.

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