Various Classifications of Electronic Dance Music

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 various classifications of electronic dance music (EDM). We’ll look at the different genres within EDM, and how they are often classified by tempo, style, and overall feel. By the end of this post, you should have a better understanding of the different types of EDM and what makes each one unique.


EDM is typically divided into two major categories: house and techno. However, within these two genres are subgenres and microgenres that further describe the type of sound a producer or DJ is going for. Remixes and mashups also play a role in EDM as DJs often take existing tracks and mix them together to create new, unique pieces of music. This guide will give you a brief overview of the most common types of EDM so that you can better understand the music you’re listening to.

The first electronic dance music genre, house was invented in the 1980s by DJs in Chicago. House is characterized by a 4/4 beat, minimalistic melodies, and often features sampling from other songs or field recordings. House music is often repetitive and builds up slowly over time to create a feeling of euphoria.

Techno is a descendant of house music that emerged in Detroit in the late 1980s. Techno is characterized by a faster tempo (usually around 140 BPM), more abstract melodies, and often features industrial or machine-like noises. Unlike house music, which is designed to make listeners feel happy and euphoric, techno is often dark and mysterious, designed to create a feeling of unease or even paranoia.

Trance is an offshoot of techno that emerged in the early 1990s. Trance shares many similarities with techno, but is distinguished by its emphasis on melody and emotional content. Trance tracks often feature breakdowns where the melody becomes more pronounced and the rhythm slows down, giving listeners a chance to catch their breath before the track builds up again to its climax.

Drum & bass (often abbreviated to D&B or dnb) is a type of electronic dance music that originated in England in the early 1990s. D&B features breakbeats (short snippets of drum patterns taken from other songs) at high tempos (usually around 160-180 BPM). Jungle is a subgenre of D&B that emerged around the same time; jungle tracks are typically distinguished by their use of sampling from reggae and dub music, as well as tribal percussion sounds.

The Different Types of Electronic Dance Music

There are various classifications of Electronic Dance Music. These classifications are based on the tempo, rhythm, and style of the music. The tempo of the music is measured in beats per minute, and it can range from slow to fast. The rhythm of the music is the pattern of the beats, and it can be regular or irregular. The style of the music is the way the rhythm and melody are combined, and it can be either simple or complex.


Techno is a genre of electronic dance music that emerged in Detroit, Michigan in the United States during the mid-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.

Techno is generally repetitive instrumental music produced for use in a continuous DJ set. The central rhythmic component is most often in common time (4/4), where time is marked with a bass drum on each quarter note pulse, typically laid over a 4/4 or 8/16 sixteenth note hi-hat pattern with an open or closed hi-hat on each quarter note. Hi-hats are also used to keep time between different percussion instruments, or between different melodic instruments.

The tempo of most techno tracks lies between 120 and 150 beats per minute (BPM).


Trance is a genre of electronic dance music that emerged from the British new-age music scene and the early 1990s rave scene in Germany. A central tenet of trance music is that it is used to induce a state of hypnotism or trance. Its composition deliberately induces feelings of euphoria, energy, emotion, and spiritual elevation.

The genre developed in the 1990s, initially as uplifting and emotional techno music, before evolving into a more aggressive sound by the end of the decade. While often associated with fast tempos, melodic elements, and grandiose synthesizer breakdowns, trance also includes softer and more introspective sounds.


House is a genre of electronic dance music characterized by a repetitive four-on-the-floor beat and a simple, elegant sound. Originally created by DJs in the Chicago club scene in the 1980s, house music quickly gained popularity around the world and has since spawned countless subgenres, including deep house, tech house, and nu-disco.

Drum and Bass

Drum and bass is a type of electronic dance music that emerged in the early 1990s. It is characterized by fast breakbeats (typically between 150 and 180 beats per minute) with heavy bass and sub-bass frequencies. Drum and bass began as a fusion of breakbeat and Jamaican dub and reggae, and developed into a distinct genre in its own right.

The earliest drum and bass tracks were hardcore techno tracks produced by artists such as Teknoize, Marc Acardipane (known as The Mover), Cyrus, Max Million (known as The Egyptian Lover), Kevin Saunderson (known as Inner City) and Jeff Mills. These artists were influenced by electro, techno, dub and Jamaican dancehall music. Drum and bass mixes typically contain samples from these genres, as well as samples from film scores, ambient music and rare Groove records.


Derived from other genres like 2-step garage, drum and bass, and dub reggae, dubstep emerged in London in the late 1990s. The early 2000s saw a rise in popularity of the genre in underground clubs. By 2009, dubstep began to enter the mainstream with songs like “Bass Down Low” by Dev and “In for the Kill” by La Roux.

characterized by shuffling rhythms, Wobbles- basslines with low frequency oscillations, and sparse melodies.

The Origins of Electronic Dance Music

Electronic Dance Music, also known as EDM, is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres made largely for nightclubs, raves, and festivals. EDM is generally produced for playback by disc jockeys who create seamless selections of tracks, called a mix by segueing from one recording to another.


Chicago house is a style of house music originally produced in Chicago in the early 1980s. It was developed at clubs such as the Warehouse, the Music Box, and Traxx by DJ Percy X, Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy, and others. Chicago house often combines elements of Latin-influenced house music with the use of drum machines and synthesizers.


The term “electronic dance music” (EDM) encompasses a wide range of genres and sub-genres, from the hard-hitting sounds of techno and trance, to the more chilled-out vibes of house and ambient. But where did it all begin? In this article, we trace the origins of EDM, from its earliest incarnation in Detroit, right up to the present day.

The first electronic dance music can be traced back to the city of Detroit in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At this time, the city was a hotbed of innovation in the world of music, with a thriving underground scene that was experimenting with new sounds and styles. One of the most influential figures in this scene was DJ and producer Juan Atkins, who is often credited as being the “godfather” of techno. Atkins was a pioneer in using synthesizers and drum machines to create his own unique brand of futuristic music, which he would go on to release under the alias “Cybotron”.

Cybotron’s track “Clear” is widely regarded as being one of the first ever techno records, and its sound would go on to have a major influence on subsequent generations of producers. Another key early figure in Detroit techno was Derrick May, whose work as part of the group Rhythim Is Rhythim also helped to shape the sound of techno as we know it today.

While Detroit is considered to be ground zero for techno, it wasn’t long before the sound began to spread to other parts of America, and then further afield to Europe. In 1985, Atkins founded his own record label called Metroplex, which helped to promote Detroit techno internationally. By the early 1990s, techno had taken over clubbing culture in Europe, with major cities like Berlin becoming hotspots for this new form of electronic music


In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a new wave of electronic dance music began to emerge in Berlin. This music, which was influenced by a variety of styles including disco, rock, and synth-pop, became known as “Berlin dance music.” This new style of music quickly gained popularity in clubs and bars across the city, and soon it spread to other parts of Germany and Europe. Today, Berlin dance music is enjoyed by people all over the world.

The Evolution of Electronic Dance Music

Electronic Dance Music has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the late 1970s. What started out as a niche genre of music has now become one of the most popular genres in the world. Electronic Dance Music has undergone a lot of evolution over the years, and has now been classified into various sub-genres. In this article, we will take a look at the various classifications of Electronic Dance Music.

The First Wave: 1970 – 1985

The first wave of EDM consisted of music that was mostly analog, with some digital influence. This music was characterized by its use of synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic instruments. It was often played in clubs and on the radio. The first wave lasted from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. Some of the most popular artists during this time were Giorgio Moroder, Klaus Schulze, Vangelis, and Jean Michel Jarre.

The Second Wave: 1985 – 1995

The Second Wave: 1985 – 1995Following the first wave, electronic dance music evolved with the help of advanced technologies. This period is known as the second wave, and it is said to have started in 1985 and ended in 1995. The second wave is often associated with the Acid House movement, which emerged in England in the late 1980s. This type of music was characterized by its use of a synthesizer-generated sound called a “squelch.”

The Third Wave: 1995 – Present

The mid-1990s saw the rise of a new generation of DJs and producers who were influenced by the early rave and house music scenes, but who also drew inspiration from a wider range of sources, including hip hop, disco, techno, and rock. This new wave of electronic dance music is often referred to as the “third wave” or “EDM.”

Third wave EDM is characterized by a wide variety of subgenres and subcultures, each with its own unique sound and style. Some of the most popular third wave EDM subgenres include trance, drum & bass, dubstep, hardstyle, and Trap.

Trance is an energetic and uplifting style of EDM that originated in the early 1990s. It is defined by its progressive buildups and breakdowns, which create a sense of euphoria and excitement.

Drum & bass is a fast-paced and intense style of EDM that originated in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s. It is characterized by its breakbeats and heavy basslines.

Dubstep is a dark and atmospheric style of EDM that originated in London in the early 2000s. It is defined by its slow tempo (usually around 70 BPM) and its heavy basslines.

Hardstyle is a hard-hitting style of EDM that originated in the Netherlands in the early 2000s. It is characterized by its fast tempo (usually around 145 BPM) and its distorted kicks.

Trap is a style of EDM that originated in the Southern United States in the early 2010s. It is characterized by its slow tempo (usually around 70 BPM) and its heavy use of trap drums (a type of hip hop drum kit).

The Future of Electronic Dance Music

Electronic Dance Music has come a long way since its inception in the 1970s. What started as a niche genre has now blown up into a global phenomenon, with EDM festivals and clubs popping up all over the world. The genre has also seen a lot of evolution, with new sub-genres and sub-cultures emerging over the years. So, what does the future hold for Electronic Dance Music?

The Mainstreaming of EDM

The electronic dance music (EDM) scene has been growing in popularity for years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, EDM is now starting to infiltrate the mainstream. This is a positive development for the genre, as it will help to increase its visibility and appeal to a wider audience.

EDM has come a long way since its underground beginnings. It is now being played at mainstream clubs and festivals, and its biggest stars are beginning to crossover into the mainstream pop world. This is helping to expose EDM to even more people, and is helping to grow the genre even further.

As EDM continues to grow in popularity, it is important to remember that there are many different sub-genres within the genre. While some of these sub-genres are more popular than others, all of them have something unique to offer fans of EDM.Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular sub-genres of EDM:

-House: House music is one of the most popular genres of EDM. It is characterized by a 4/4 beat and often includes elements of other genres such as disco and funk. House music often has a trance-like quality that can make it very danceable.

-Dubstep: Dubstep is a genre that emerged in the early 2000s. It is characterized by heavy basslines and frequently features distorted or screeching sounds. Dubstep has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially with younger fans of EDM.

-Trance: Trance music is characterized by hypnotic melodies and often features repetitive rhythms. It often builds up slowly before reaching a “peak” moment that can be very exhilarating for listeners. Trance music is generally very uplifting and can be perfect for dancing.

-Techno: Techno is a broad genre that includes a variety of sub-genres such as Detroit techno, acid techno, and minimal techno. Techno is characterized by hypnotic beats and frequently features synthesizers or other electronic instruments. Techno can be very mellow or very danceable, depending on the sub-genre.

These are just some of the most popular genres of EDM. There are many other lesser known genres that are also worth exploring if you are a fan of electronic dance music.

The Proliferation of Sub-Genres

As electronic dance music has grown in popularity, so too have the number of sub-genres that have emerged. This can be attributed to the easy availability of music production software and hardware, which hasLowercase allowed for more people to produce and distribute their music. As a result, there is a greater diversity of sounds and styles within the electronic dance music umbrella.

Below is a list of some of the most popular sub-genres of electronic dance music, along with a brief description of each:

1. Trap: A sub-genre that originated in the early 2010s, trap is characterized by its heavy use of 808 drums and Travis Scott-esque mumbling vocals.

2. Future Bass: A relatively new sub-genre, future bass is characterized by its use of synthesisers and auto-tuned vocals. It often has a positive, upbeat vibe.

3. Drum and Bass: One of the older sub-genres, drum and bass is distinguished by its breakneck tempo and aggressive sound. It is often associated with the UK rave scene of the early 1990s.

4. Dubstep: Another older sub-genre, dubstep rose to prominence in the late 2000s/early 2010s thanks to artists such as Skrillex and deadmau5. It is characterized by its heavy basslines and wonky synths.

5. Trance: Trance is defined by its hypnotic melodies and extended breakdowns, which often invoke an emotional response in listeners. It was one of the earliest Electronic Dance Music sub-genres to gain mainstream popularity.

The Increased Popularity of Festivals

In recent years, the popularity of electronic dance music festivals has exploded. According to a report from Nielsen, 32% of Americans ages 21-34 attended at least one music festival in 2013, and that number is only expected to grow in the coming years.

There are a variety of factors that have contributed to the increased popularity of these festivals, including the rise of social media and the advent of streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. But one of the most important factors has been the growth of the EDM scene itself.

As more and more people have become interested in electronic dance music, festivals have become an increasingly important part of the scene. They provide a place for fans to come together and experience the music in a live setting, and they also give artists a platform to reach new audiences.

With the continued growth of the EDM scene, it’s likely that festivals will become even more popular in the coming years. So if you’re thinking about attending one, make sure to check out our list of the best EDM festivals in the world.

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