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 are new to the world of electronic dance music, you may be wondering what instruments are used to create the amazing sounds you hear. In this blog post, we will explore the instruments used in EDM and how they create the unique soundscape of this genre.


Electronic dance music is a genre of music that is often played in clubs, festivals, and other venues. It is characterized by a heavy bass line, synthesizers, and drum machines. There are many subgenres of EDM, including house, techno, trance, and dubstep.


Synthesizers are electronic musical instruments that generate audio signals. They are often played with a keyboard, but they can also be controlled with other controller devices, such as Sequencers, Drum machines, and Guitar controllers. Synthesizers generate sounds using various methods such as subtractive synthesis, additive synthesis, phase distortion synthesis, frequency modulation synthesis, and physical modeling synthesis.

The first commercial synthesizer was the Moog Synthesizer, invented by Robert Moog in 1964. Since then, synthesizers have become an integral part of electronic dance music genres such as techno, house, and trance.

Drum Machines

A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums or other percussion instruments. They are often used in dance music, hip hop and electronic dance music.

There are many different types of drum machines, but they all share some common features. Drum machines usually have a selection of sounds that can be played, and a means of sequencing the sounds into a rhythm. The sounds are usually generated by synthesizers, and may be sampled from real drums or other instruments.

Drum machines usually have a number of different controls that allow the user to change the sound of the drums, the tempo of the pattern, and the length of the pattern. Some models also include effects such as reverb or echo.

Most drum machines can be programmed to play back a sequence of patterns, making them ideal for creating repetitive dance beats. Drum patterns can also be created manually by playing the drums on the machine itself, or by using a MIDI keyboard or sequencer.

MIDI Controllers

The phrase “MIDI controller” can refer to any devices that generate or control MIDI signals. In the context of electronic music, however, a MIDI controller is usually a physical device that allows a musician to control one or more parameters of a digital audio workstation or plugin.

The most common type of MIDI controller is the keyboard, which can be used to play notes and trigger sounds. Other common types of controllers include drum pads, wind controllers, and fader banks. Some controllers are designed for specific genres of music, such as hip-hop or EDM.

MIDI controllers come in all shapes and sizes, from simple two-octave mini-keyboards to massive 88-note weighted keyboards. They can also be equipped with a variety of different features, such as aftertouch, velocity sensitivity, pitch and mod wheels, sustain pedals, and more.


A sampler is an electronic or digital musical instrument which uses sound recordings (or “samples”) of real instruments or sounds, instead of generating new sounds with oscillators. They are usually played with a keyboard, but they can also be controlled by other MIDI devices such as sequencers and drum machines.

The first sampler was the Mellotron, introduced in 1963. It was used by bands such as The Beatles, The Moody Blues and Yes. In the 1970s and 1980s,samplers were used by disco and funk bands such as Kraftwerk and Parliament-Funkadelic. In the 1990s, Hip Hop groups such as Public Enemy and N.W.A used samplers to create new sounds.

Some of the most popular samplers are the Akai MPC series, the E-mu SP-1200 and the Roland 909.


Sequencers are one of the most important tools in electronic dance music, as they are responsible for creating the rhythmic patterns that provide the framework for the rest of the track. There are a variety of different sequencer types available, from simple step sequencers to more complex systems that allow you to record and edit your own sequences. In general, sequencers can be classified into two main categories: hardware and software.


Digital Audio Workstations, or DAWs, are immensely important in electronic dance music. It is in these software programs that producers compose, record, edit, and mix all of the various elements of their tracks. In the past few years, a number of different DAWs have become popular among producers, but the three most commonly used are Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and FL Studio.

Outboard Gear

Electronic Dance Music, or EDM for short, is a genre of music that is typically made with electronic instruments and can be danceable. In recent years, the genre has been growing in popularity, particularly among younger audiences.

One of the defining characteristics of EDM is the use of outboard gear. This refers to any type of equipment that is not part of the main mixer or console. Common examples of outboard gear include synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers. These days, outboard gear is often controlled by a computer using MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).

While not essential, outboard gear can help give EDM its distinctive sound. It can also be used to create special effects and add a level of sophistication to the music. If you’re interested in creating your own EDM tracks, here are some instruments you might want to consider using:

-Synthesizers: Synthesizers are often used to create lead melodies and basslines. They can produce a wide range of sounds, from simple beeps and blips to complex chords and pads. There are many different types of synthesizers available on the market, so it’s important to do your research to find one that’s right for you.
-Drum machines: Drum machines are used to create drum beats and percussion patterns. They usually come with a built-in library of sounds, but some models allow you to load your own samples as well. Drum machines can be very simple or extremely complex, depending on your needs.
-Samplers: Samplers are used to record and playback audio samples. They’re often used to play back drum loops or other rhythmic parts. Samplers can be stand-alone units or they can be integrated into a synth or drum machine.
– sequencers: Sequencers are used to record and playback MIDI data. They’re essential for creating complex EDM tracks with multiple instruments. Sequencers usually have a visual interface that allows you to see all the MIDI data on a screen so you can edit it easily.


There you have it! These are just some of the instruments that you might find in electronic dance music. As you can see, there is a lot of variety and different ways that producers can create interesting and unique sounding tracks. So, next time you’re listening to your favorite EDM song, see if you can identify any of these instruments!

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