What Does Electronic Music Sound Like?

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re wondering what electronic music sounds like, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the different subgenres of electronic music and highlight some of the key sonic characteristics that make it unique. By the end, you should have a better understanding of what this genre is all about.

The Different Types of Electronic Music

Electronic music is a type of music that is made with the help of electronic musical instruments. It has a wide range of genres and sub-genres, which can make it difficult to describe what electronic music sounds like. In general, electronic music is characterized by its use of synthesizers, drum machines, and computer-generated sounds.


Techno is a type of electronic dance music that was developed in Detroit, Michigan, in the 1980s. The first techno tracks were produced by Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc and his friends. They would play reggae records with the bass turned up loud, which inspired them to create their own music.

Techno is characterized by a fast tempo, drum machines, and synthesizers. The music is often repetitive and has a minimalistic style. It is usually based on four-on-the-floor beats and uses a lot of electronic sounds.


House is a genre of electronic music characterized by a persistent 4/4 beat and a emphasize on synthesizers. House music is often played in nightclubs, especially in the underground scene. The sound of house music is often described as “thumping” or “driving”.

Drum and Bass

Drum and bass (also written as “drum ‘n’ bass”; abbreviated as “D&B”, “DnB” or “D’n’B”) is a genre of electronic music characterised by fast breakbeats (typically between 150–180 beats per minute) with heavy bass and sub-bass lines, synthesizers, and sampling.


Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in South London in the late 1990s. It is generally characterized by sparse, syncopated drum and percussion patterns with heavy bass lines and often vocal samples. The style emerged as an offshoot of UK garage and grime, and shares many characteristics with those genres; however, dubstep artists have also incorporated elements of ragga, hip hop, dub, techno, trance and jazz.

The music is often described as “dark”, “dirty” or “weird”, and has been known to provoke extreme reactions in both listeners and performers. According to one critic, dubstep can be described as “the sound of two Catholic school girls slipping off their knickers in a darkened confession booth.” Another said it was like “listening to a head-on collision between two freight trains.”

The Sounds of Electronic Music

Electronic music covers a wide range of genres and styles, from the avant-garde to the popular. It is characterized by the use of electronic devices and computer-based technologies for the production, manipulation, and playback of sound. In general, electronic music is made up of synthesized sounds, which can be either melodic or percussive in nature.


Synthesizers are devices that generate sounds through the use of oscillators. They are often used to create electronic music.

Synthesizers come in many different types, but all of them use oscillators to create sounds. The most common type of oscillator is the linear oscillator, which uses a linear scale to produce sounds. Other types of oscillators include the sawtooth wave, square wave, and triangle wave.

Some synthesizers also use filters to change the sound of the oscillators. The most common type of filter is the low-pass filter, which removes high frequencies from the sound. Other types of filters include the high-pass filter, band-pass filter, and notch filter.


Samplers are electronic musical instruments that use recorded sounds as the basis for new, original music. These sounds can be anything from short snippets of speech to entire pieces of music. Samplers can be played like traditional instruments, or they can be programmed to create new, never-before-heard sounds.

The first sampler was the Mellotron, introduced in 1963. This early machine used tape loops to play back recorded sounds. The sound quality was not great, but the Mellotron became popular for its ability to create realistic-sounding strings, horns, and other orchestral sounds.

In the 1970s, digital technology began to replace tape-based systems, resulting in higher-quality sound and more flexibility in terms of what could be done with recorded sounds. The first digital sampler was the Fairlight CMI, released in 1979. This machine allowed users to store recordings on a computer hard drive and then play them back using a keyboard or other controller.

Today, there are many different types of samplers available, from simple hardware units to complex software programs. No matter what form they take, all samplers share the same basic principle: they give musicians the ability to create new music using recorded sound as their starting point.

Drum Machines

Drum machines are electronic devices that create percussion sounds. They were originally used by recording studios to create drum tracks for recordings, but they quickly gained popularity with musicians as standalone instruments.

Drum machines often have a variety of different sounds, from kick drums and snare drums to hi-hats and cymbals. Some even have features like tempo control and pattern sequencing.

drum machine is a great way to add rhythm and texture to your music. They can be used for live performances or in the studio, and they come in a variety of price points to suit any budget.


One of the defining aspects of electronic music is the use of sequencers to create repeating patterns and rhythms. These patterns can be created with a wide variety of electronic instruments, including analog synthesizers, drum machines, and digital samplers. Sequencers can be played live by human performers, or they can be programmed to run automatically.

There are two main types of sequencers: linear and non-linear. Linear sequencers play back pre-recorded sequences of notes or controller values in a fixed order. Non-linear sequencers, on the other hand, allow the user to create patterns on the fly by playing notes or manipulating controller values in real time.


The History of Electronic Music

Electronic music is a type of music that is produced with the help of electronic musical instruments. It emerged in the late 19th century and since then, has undergone a lot of changes. The history of electronic music is fascinating, and it is a genre that is still evolving.

Early pioneers

The first electronic instruments were created in the early 1900s. These instruments, called theremins, were used in movies and theaters to create eerie, otherworldly sounds. The theremin was the first electronic instrument that could be played without being touched.

In the 1920s, German composer Paul Hindemith wrote a piece for theremin and orchestra called “Der Dämon.” This was one of the first pieces of electronic music ever written.

In the 1930s, American composer George Antheil wrote a piece for 16 player pianos and percussion called “Ballet Mécanique.” This was one of the first pieces of music to be written specifically for electronic instruments.

In the 1940s, Italian composer Luigi Nono wrote a piece for tape and live instruments called “Il Canto Sospeso.” This was one of the first pieces of music to use recorded sounds as part of the composition.

In the 1950s, composers began creating works for new electronic devices called synthesizers. These works often explored the possibilities of these new devices, and many were meant to be performed live with the help of a technician who would control the synthesizer during the performance.

The rise of disco

The rise of disco in the 1970s was a turning point for electronic music. Disco music was often based on a four-on-the-floor beat, with synthesizers providing the melodic hooks. This was a very different sound from the experimental electronic music of the 1960s, and it became very popular very quickly.

One of the most important disco tracks was “Love to Love You Baby” by Donna Summer, which featured a 16-minute long version with heavily processed vocals. This track, and others like it, helped to make disco one of the most popular genres of the 1970s.

However, by the end of the decade, disco was starting to fall out of favor, and electronic music would not regain its popularity until the rise of techno in the late 1980s.

The birth of techno

Techno is a form of electronic dance music that emerged in Detroit, Michigan in the early 1990s. The genre was created by a group of African-American DJs and producers who were influenced by the Chicago house scene as well as European electronic music. Techno is characterized by its use of synthesizers, drum machines, and sampling.

The first techno track is widely considered to be “Techno City” by Juan Atkins, one of the genre’s founding fathers. Atkins was also behind the hugely influential record label Metropolitan Productions, which helped to spread the sound of techno globally in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Other important early techno acts include Derrick May, Jeff Mills, and Carl Craig.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, techno underwent a major resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to the rise of EDM (electronic dance music). Today, techno is enjoyed by fans all over the world and continues to evolve and change with each new generation of producers and DJs.

The Future of Electronic Music

Electronic music has come a long way since the early days of synthesizers and drum machines. Today, electronic music encompasses a wide range of styles and genres, from dance music to ambient soundscapes. With the advent of digital technology, the possibilities for electronic music are endless. In this article, we’ll explore the different sounds of electronic music and the directions it’s headed in the future.

The popularity of EDM

The popularity of electronic dance music (EDM) has exploded in recent years. More and more people are attending EDM festivals and club nights, and the genre is starting to crossover into the mainstream. But what does electronic music actually sound like?

In its broadest sense, electronic music can be any music that makes use of electronic instruments or technology in its production. This means that it can encompass a wide range of styles, from the relatively simple beats of early techno to the complex soundscapes of contemporary experimental music.

However, there are some common threads that run through much of electronic music. Firstly, it often makes use of repetition and loops to create a hypnotic effect. Secondly, it often has a very ‘clean’ sound, without the imperfections that you might hear in a live performance. This is achieved by using synthesizers and other electronic instruments to create sounds that would be difficult or impossible to produce with traditional instruments.

If you’re new to electronic music, then a good place to start is with some of the classic tracks that helped to define the genre. These include Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’, Giorgio Moroder’s ‘I Feel Love’, and Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock’. From there, you can start to explore the different sub-genres that have developed over the years, such as techno, house, trance, drum & bass, and dubstep.

The rise of independent artists

The rise of independent artists has been a big trend in the electronic music scene in recent years. With the ability to create and distribute music online, many artists are bypassing traditional record labels and going directly to fans. This has led to a more diverse range of music, as well as increased opportunities for unsigned and underground artists to get heard. As the scene continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how these trends continue to develop.

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