A question we ask our students the first time they are in the hot booth is: “What music are you into?”. And they reply with, “I like this kind of music, but I don’t know how to define it”. Don’t worry, we have a hard time as well. Music is becoming harder to put in one box, but learning the history of genres is a beautiful thing. Here goes our explanation of the essential genres.
EDM stands for Electronic Dance Music. Although not necessarily a standalone genre, it is an umbrella term for multiple genres of electronic music. All your EDM festival/rave/club music such as Big Room, Electro House, French House, UK Garage, Trance, Drum N Bass and Dubstep fall under this umbrella category. The big EDM festivals are Tomorrowland, Ultra, EDC and Creamfields.
Originally a subgenre of Electro House, Big Room is becoming a genre of its own. Typically consisting of 126-132BPM, 4/4 kick, and trance-influenced build ups, Big Room tracks are usually the ones that populate the festivals like Tomorrowland. One of the most famous examples is Martin Garrix’s Animals.
Born in the early 1980s warehouse parties of Chicago, house has been a staple genre since the beginnings of the modern DJ. Distinctively recognised for its “four to the floor” kick pattern (drum hit on every beat), disco-esque melodies and usually is between 118-135 BPM. If you want to hear the original kind of house, listen to any Frankie Knuckles song; my favourite is “Getting Involved” with Dbow. Due to House’s beat pattern being versatile with other genres, it has evolved into so many sub genres such as electro house, gangsta house, tech house, French house etc. What’s really hot right now is “bass house” pioneered by JOYRYDE, Duko, AC Slater and pretty much the OWSLA crew.
Whose afraid of Detroit? Whoever got the Claude VonStroke reference knows what Techno is. Many of todays youth will think of German techno, that East Berlin industrial sound that makes you feel like you’re in an abandoned power station near Ostbahnhof station. Techno started off with the early 80s-90s spacey atmospheric synths with layers of continuous bass lines and reverb kicks. German techno is inspired by the post-Cold War East Berlin, and similar to Detroit techno it was born in the abandoned factories. If you want to check out this type of techno, look up Marcel Dettman and Ben Klock, arguably the best in the game.
When you think of bass music, you think of TNGHT, Burial, RL Grime, Baauer, Alison Wonderland and WhatSoNot. As the name suggests, the genre involved emphasising the bass and rhythm sections with elements of dubstep. Original started off as UK Bass, bass music is inspired by UK Dubstep and Garage music. Check out UKF, the home of bass music. A notable song defining this genre is Valentino Khan’s “Deep Down Low” song. The tight metallic bass growl and electro sounds is a staple in Bass music. Be careful not to drop the bass when fishing for these filthy tracks.
Once again, a genre from the UK. DnB is, as it suggests, predominantly fast paced breakbeat drums accompanied with atmospheric synth pads, instruments and an assorted baseline. The genre emerged from the old school UK rave and jungle scenes in the 1990s. The typical BPM is 160-180BPM.
Born in the abandoned project houses of the deep south of US, notable hip hop trap pioneers were Outkast, Gucci Mane, Migos, Future, 2Chainz, Young Thug, and of course, Travis Scott. Trap music is defined by majority by its 808 sub bass and kicks, hi hat rolls and snares popularised by producers Lex Lugar and Southside. EDM Trap however, combines these elements with dance music to produce a big room sound. A popular combo is mixing trap drums with metallic bass. An example of this would be RL Grime’s and Salva’s remix of “Mercy”, arguably the catalyst for the explosion in EDM trap. Another definitive example is “Saria’s Turn Up” by GTA.
When Dubstep gets thrown into a conversation, people immediately think Skrillex. Dubstep originated in the UK and has elements of bass, 2 step garage, dub, reggae and dancehall music. That is why you may hear a lot of Jamaican influence in the vocals and rhythm of the beat. The BPM is almost always 138-142BPM. Great pioneers in the scene were Mala, Skream, Plastician and Benga in the UK. Then Skrillex came out with brostep, a post-dubstep genre in the US. Deadmau5 is a renowned skeptic of this genre.
One of the most popular rave genres out there, trance is described as euphoric sounding music. Trance was born in Germany and Goa, India in the 1990s, and typically ranges from 125-150BPM. Elements of classical music, techno, house, pop and even film music are incorporated into trance. A track typically consists of melodic phrases, with a build of tension and release of tensions via 2 drops or peaks. Trance can purely be instrumental, but there are usually soft female vocals to accompany the tracks. Notable trance pioneers are Armin Van Buuren, Marlo, Tiesto, Above and Beyond and artists on A&B’s label Anjunabeats.
Big Room and Melbourne Bounce are really similar genres. Melbourne Bounce however, has kicks divided in 2: a small kick then an emphasised upbeat kick, to create the bounce and shuffle. The BPM is usually around 128BPM. Notable pioneers are Will Sparks, Joel Fletcher, Uberjak’d, Orkestrated, SCNDL, Timmy Trumpet & Tyron Hapi.
One of the more harder dance styles, hardstyle reigns from The Netherlands in the late 1990s-2000s with elements of techno and hardcore. Influenced by gabber, the most popular festival with this genre is Defqon. Hardstyle typically consists of a deep, 140-150BPM hard-sounding kick drum, intense faded or reversed basslines accompanying the beat, a dissonant synth melody story telling, and detuned and distorted sounds. Notable pioneers of the genre are Headhunterz, Noisecontrollerz, Showtek, Brennan Heart, Deepak, D-Block & S-te-Fan and Coone.