What Instruments Are Used in Electronic Dance Music?

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re a fan of electronic dance music, you might be wondering what instruments are used to create those catchy beats. While the answer may vary depending on the artist, there are a few instruments that are commonly used in EDM.


Instrumentation in electronic dance music (EDM) has evolved rapidly since the genre’s origins in the early 1980s. Early synthesizers such as the Roland TB-303 and TR-808 were used to produce simple hypnotic basslines and drum rhythms, but as technology progressed and new genres emerged, so too did new instruments.

While some purists may argue that EDM is not truly “music” because it relies heavily on technology, there is no denying that skilled producers and DJs can create complex and beautiful soundscapes using a wide variety of instruments, both traditional and electronic. Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular instruments used in EDM today.

The Synthesizer

The synthesizer is one of the most important instruments in electronic dance music. It allows the producer to create a wide range of sounds, from the classic analog synthesizer sound to more modern digital sounds. There are many different types of synthesizers, but they all share one common goal: to create new and interesting sounds.

The Sampler

An important instrument in electronic dance music is the sampler. This device allows DJs and producers to record sounds and then play them back at different speeds or pitches, or to loop them so they play continuously. Samplers can create a wide range of sounds, from drum beats to synthesized melodies. They are often used to create build-ups and break-downs in a track, or to add texture and interest.

The Drum Machine

The drum machine is easily one of the most important instruments in electronic dance music. It provides the heartbeat and explosive energy that defines the genre. Many of the early pioneers of electronic dance music made extensive use of drum machines to create their signature sound.

Today, there are a wide variety of drum machines available on the market, ranging from simple and affordable models to complex and expensive ones. The type of drum machine you need will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to get a basic model that is easy to use and allows you to experiment with different sounds and rhythms. Once you have a good understanding of how drum machines work, you can then move on to more advanced models that offer more features and options.

The Sequencer

The Sequencer is the heart of an Electronic Dance Music setup. It allows you to create, record, and playback your own beats and melodies. The most popular sequencers are the Akai MPC, Native Instruments Maschine, and Ableton Live.

The MIDI Controller

MIDI controllers are devices that are used to generate and manipulate sounds using electronic signals. These devices can be used to create a wide range of sounds, from simple melodies to complex arrangements. MIDI controllers can be used to control a variety of electronic instruments, including keyboards, drums, and synthesizers.

The Mixer

An important part of any EDM musician’s arsenal is the mixer. This tool allows the user to mix multiple tracks together, as well as to add effects to the mix. By adjusting the levels of each track, the user can create a unique sound that is tailored to their preference. Additionally, many mixers come with a built in drum machine, which can be used to create beats and rhythm.


In conclusion, electronic dance music can be produced using a variety of instruments, including synthesizers, drum machines, and computers. While some producers focus on creating unique sounds with their equipment, others use samples and recorded tracks to create their music.

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