The History of Electronic Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

A comprehensive guide to the history of electronic music, from its beginnings in the early 20th century to the present day.

Pre-history: from the invention of the phonograph to the birth of electronic music

Electronic music is a genre of popular music that originated in the United Kingdom in the 1950s. It developed from the experimental and avant-garde music of the early 20th century, and was influenced by the development of new technologies such as the theremin, synthesizer, and vocoder. Electronic music often makes use of repetitive beats and basslines, and is often associated with the disco, rave, and techno subgenres.

The invention of the phonograph

The phonograph was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. It was the first device that could record and playback sound. The phonograph revolutionized the music industry and spurred the development of new genres of music, such as jazz and blues.

In the early 20th century, phonograph companies began mass-producing records and promoting them to a wide audience. The popularity of records led to the development of new technologies for playing them, such as the portable gramophone and the jukebox.

The rise of radio in the 1920s created a new platform for music distribution, and records became less popular. However, the invention of vinyl Records in 1947 revived interest in collecting and playing records.

The late 20th century saw the rise of electronic music, which was influenced by earlier forms of recorded music. Electronic music is created using a variety of electronic devices, such as synthesizers, drum machines, and computers. It is typically produced without any live instruments.

Today, records are still collected and played by many people around the world. They are appreciated for their unique sound quality and ability to evoke nostalgia.

The first electronic instruments

The first electronic instruments were developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The earliest were probably the teleharmonium and the theremin.

The teleharmonium, also known as the dynamophone, was invented by Thaddeus Cahill in 1897. It was a large machine that used a system of rotating wheels to generate electrical signals that were then amplified and sent to loudspeakers. The teleharmonium was never commercially successful, but it did have a lasting impact on the development of electronic music.

The theremin was invented by Leon Theremin (also spelled Termen) in 1920. It is a hand-held instrument that uses two antennas to generate electrical signals that are then amplified and sent to loudspeakers. The theremin is played by moving one’s hands around the antennas; the closer the hand is to an antenna, the higher the pitch of the sound that is produced. The theremin is one of the few electronic instruments that can be played without any physical contact with the instrument.

Other early electronic instruments include the Ondes Martenot (invented in 1928), the Trautonium (invented in 1930), and the Mellotron (invented in 1963).

The birth of electronic music

Electronic music is music that uses electronic musical instruments, digital instruments and circuitry-based music technology. In general, a distinction can be made between sound produced using electromechanical means (electroacoustic music), and that produced using electronics only. Electromechanical instruments include mechanical elements, such as strings, hammers and plates, which are activated by electronic circuits. Pure electronic instruments do not have vibrating strings, hammers or plates, and instead generate sound through electrical oscillators or digital synthesis.

The first electronic musical instruments were developed in the early 20th century, and they were used in a wide variety of genres including classical, jazz and rock. Electronic music became increasingly popular in the 1960s with the development of commercial synthesizers such as the Moog Synthesizer. This led to the development of a wide variety of new electronic musical genres such as disco, techno and hip hop.

The early years: from the first electronic music compositions to the development of synthesizers

The first electronic music compositions

The first electronic music compositions were created using a variety of electronic devices such as telephone receivers, theremins, and oscillators. One of the earliest electronic music pieces was Henry Cowell’s “Synchronous Furniture Music” which was composed using two tone-generating devices. In the 1930s, Johannes registry Varese created “Poem Electronique” using 400 vacuum tubes, radios, and other electronic device.

During the Second World War, many electronic devices were developed for military purposes such as early radar systems. These technologies were later adapted for use in the music industry. In particular, the synthesizer was developed in the 1950s and became an important tool in the creation of electronic music.

The development of synthesizers

The first electronic music instruments were developed in the early 20th century. The Theremin was invented in 1919, and the Ondes Martenot in 1928. These instruments were used by composers such as Edgard Varèse, Olivier Messiaen and Pierre Schaeffer, who pioneered the genre of musique concrète.

In the 1950s, new electronic music instruments began to be developed, such as the melodica (1954), the Sequential Circuits voltage-controlled synthesizer (1966) and the Moog synthesizer (1967). These instruments were used by composers such as Walter Carlos, Wendy Carlos and Karlheinz Stockhausen, who pioneered electronic music genres such as electronic rock, avant-garde and ambient music.

In the 1970s, new electronic music genres emerged, such as disco (1971), punk rock (1976) and hip hop (1979). These genres were made possible by new developments in electronic music technology, such as drum machines (1972) and samplers (1978).

The golden age: from the advent of disco to the birth of techno

The history of electronic music is long and complex, with disco, techno, and house all playing a role. Disco was the first genre of electronic music to really take off, with its signature sound of four-on-the-floor bass and thumping drums. Techno followed in the late 1980s, and was defined by its use of synthesizers and drum machines. House music, which was born in Chicago, was also influenced by disco but had a more laid-back sound.

The advent of disco

The advent of disco in the early 1970s saw the birth of a new form of electronic music. club DJs began to use cutting-edge technology to create new and exciting sounds that would get people dancing. This new style of music quickly caught on, and soon disco was being played in clubs all around the world.

Disco was not just about the music; it was also about the fashion and the lifestyle. The typical disco look was flashy and glamorous, and people would dress up to go out dancing. For many, disco was a way to escape the everyday grind and let loose.

The popularity of disco began to decline in the late 1970s, as new styles of music (such as punk and New Wave) started to become popular. However, the impact of disco can still be felt today in many modern genres of electronic music.

The birth of techno

The electronic music genre known as techno was born in Detroit, Michigan in the late 1980s. A group of young, African American musicians and DJs, including Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson, began experimenting with synthesizers and drum machines to create a new type of music. This new sound was inspired by the music of European disco and synth-pop bands like Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra, as well as by the work of African American soul and funk musicians like Parliament-Funkadelic and George Clinton.

techno quickly became popular in underground clubs in Detroit and then spreading to other cities in the United States and Europe. In the early 1990s, a subgenre of techno known as rave music emerged, characterized by its fast tempo and aggressive sound. Rave music would go on to become one of the most popular forms of electronic dance music in the world.

The modern era: from the rise of EDM to the present day

Electronic music has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the early 20th century. In the last few decades, electronic music has exploded in popularity, with genres like EDM and dubstep becoming mainstream. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of electronic music, from its early days to the present day.

The rise of EDM

The term “EDM” (electronic dance music) was first coined in the 1980s, but the genre has its roots in the 1970s disco scene. In the early days, electronic music was mostly played in clubs and at parties. DJs would use turntables and mixers to create new, innovative sounds. As technology progressed, musicians began to experiment with synthesizers and other electronic instruments to create unique sonic textures.

In the 1990s, EDM began to gain mainstream popularity. The development of new technologies such as samplers and drum machines made it possible for artists to create more complex arrangements. The rave culture of the late 1980s and early 1990s also contributed to the growing popularity of EDM. adherents of this subculture were often drawn to the music’s pulsating rhythms and psychedelic soundscapes.

Today, EDM is one of the most popular genres in the world. Its signature sound has been adopted by a wide range of artists, from pop stars to hip-hop producers. The genre continues to evolve as new technologies emerge, making it an exciting and ever-changing field for both performers and listeners alike.

The present day

The present day is marked by the rise of EDM, or electronic dance music. This genre of music is characterized by its heavy use of synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic musical instruments. EDM has become one of the most popular genres of music in recent years, with its popularity only continue to grow.

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