The Origins of Electronic Dance Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Electronic dance music has been around for decades, but where did it come from? This blog will explore the origins of some of the most popular EDM genres and tracks.


The origins of electronic dance music (EDM) are rooted in the experimental music of the late 20th century. In the 1960s and 1970s, composers and musicians began to experiment with electronic and digital instruments, creating new sonic possibilities that were not possible with traditional acoustic instruments. These early pioneers laid the foundation for the development of EDM in the following decades.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, EDM emerged as a new genre of popular music, characterized by its use of synthesizers, drum machines, and sequencers. This new music was driven by technology, and it quickly gained popularity among young people around the world. Today, EDM is one of the most popular genres of music, enjoyed by millions of people across all age groups.

The First Wave of Electronic Dance Music

Electronic dance music has its origins in the 1970s, when electronic music artists started experimenting with creating new sounds using synthesizers and other electronic instruments. This new type of music quickly gained popularity in underground clubs and became known as disco. In the 1980s, disco music evolved into a new genre called house music. House music was created by DJs who played extended versions of popular songs in clubs. This new type of music became very popular in the United States and Europe.

Detroit Techno

The first wave of electronic dance music came out of Detroit in the 1980s, with artists like Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson creating a new style of music called techno. This music was influenced by the sounds of futurist composer Giorgio Moroder, as well as disco and funk. Techno was characterized by its use of electronic instruments and synthesizers, as well as its heavy reliance on drum machines. It quickly became popular in nightclubs in Europe and America, and soon spawned a second wave of electronic dance music with the rise of house music in Chicago.

Chicago House

Chicago house is a style of house music originating from Chicago, Illinois, in the 1980s. Early house music was generally characterized by a repetitive 4/4 bass drum beat and ‘squat’ or ‘stomping’ drum machine-generated kick. House music often has an electronic “metallic” sound not found in other forms of dance music. Jamaican influences are also sometimes found in early Chicago house tracks.

For many years, Chicago house music remained largely an underground phenomenon, with only a handful of sporadic hits such as Farley “Jackmaster” Funk’s “Love Can’t Turn Around”, Steve “Silk” Hurley’s “Jack Your Body” and Marshall Jefferson’s “Move Your Body (The House-Anthem)” crossing over to mainstream dance clubs outside Chicago. In 1986, however, Frankie Knuckles’ remix of Phuture’s seminal track “Acid Tracks”, popularized the style internationally with the help of more widely-played mixes by British DJ Danny Rampling.

The Second Wave of Electronic Dance Music

The Second Wave of Electronic Dance Music or EDM, is a term used to describe the wave of electronic music that began in the early 1990s and is still going strong today. This wave is often referred to as the second wave because it followed the first wave of electronic music, which began in the late 1970s. The second wave of EDM is characterized by a more club-oriented sound, as opposed to the more experimental sound of the first wave.

Acid House

The Second Wave of Electronic Dance Music, also known as Acid House, is a subgenre of House music that emerged in the late 1980s. The style is characterized by the use of acid basslines, treble-heavy synth melodies, and infectious dance rhythms. Acid House became popular in the UK underground scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s and was later championed by the rave culture of the early 1990s. The style has since had a significant impact on popular culture and has been incorporated into genres such as techno, trance, and drum and bass.

New York Garage

New York Garage is a subgenre of house music that became popular in the 1990s. It is characterized by a more stripped-down, energetic sound than other styles of house music. The style is named after the underground nightclubs in New York City where it was first heard.

One of the earliest and most influential New York Garage tracks is “Dreams” by the group After Dark, which was released in 1989. The track featured a simple bassline and an eerie, looped vocal sample that helped to create an atmosphere of suspense and excitement on the dancefloor.

In the early 1990s, New York Garage began to gain popularity outside of the city, particularly in the United Kingdom. The style became associated with the “second wave” of electronic dance music, which also included genres such as jungle and techno.

Today, New York Garage is still sometimes played in clubs, but it has largely been overshadowed by other styles of house music. Nevertheless, its influence can still be heard in some contemporary tracks.

The Third Wave of Electronic Dance Music

The Third Wave of Electronic Dance Music, also known as EDM, began in the early 1990s. This new style of music was influenced by the first and second waves of electronic music, as well as other genres such as techno, house, and trance. EDM is characterized by its use of synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers.


Trance is a subgenre of electronic dance music characterized by a tempo of between 130–155 BPM, repeating melodic phrases, and a musical form that gradually builds up and then breaks down throughout a track. The genre developed in the 1990s in Germany. trance dates back to the early 1990s, when DJs started to experiment with mixing multiple layers of loopsed electronic music.

Drum and Bass

The term “drum and bass” is used to describe a style of electronic dance music that emerged in the early 1990s. It is characterized by a fast tempo,beat-oriented production, and often features samples from other genres of music.

The origins of drum and bass can be traced back to the UK rave scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Producers began experimenting with new ways to create beats, using samplers and synthesizers to create the signature sound of drum and bass. The genre quickly gained popularity in the UK, with artists like Jungle Brothers, Goldie, and Roni Size leading the way.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, drum and bass began to gain popularity in North America, with artists like Bad Company, Dieselboy, and Kool Keith helping to bring the sound to a new audience. Today, drum and bass is enjoyed by fans all over the world, with many different subgenres emerging within the genre.


The electronic dance music genre has its origins in the 1970s disco and 1980s techno scenes. In the 1990s, EDM became more mainstream with the rise of rave culture. Today, EDM is enjoyed by people all over the world, with festivals and clubs dedicated to the genre.

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