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The Many Faces of Electronica

The Chemical Brothers are one of the pioneers of big beat electronic music.
The Chemical Brothers
The Prodigy is a hard dance/rave act made up of Keith Flint, Liam Howlett and Maxim.
The Prodigy

It seems like DJs are always coming up with a new style of music in the world of electronica. They'll take one style of music and blend it with another to form something that's mind-blowingly cool. Here's a look at some of the electronica styles that DJs are spinning.

Electronica - House

House music originated in The Warehouse, a Chicago club where the resident DJ, Frankie Knuckles, mixed old-skool disco classics with synth pop (the use of synthesizers in pop music). From there, DJs started to add electronic drum tracks, samples of music from jazz and blues and some bass with an urban feel. To put it simply, house is funky, groovy and totally soulful. Some house artists include Massive Attack, Orbital and Underworld.

Electronica - Techno

Techno music branched off from house in the late '80s. It was mainly developed by The Belleville Three, three college friends who combined Euro Synth Pop with electronic drumbeats. At first, peeps thought of it as a high-tech, more mechanical version of house music played solely at parties, but it has grown to be a global phenomenon. Techno musicians include Technotronic, 2 Unlimited and Lords Of Acid.


Electronica - Trance

A fusion of techno and house, trance is a freeform style with a basic electronic drumbeat. The rhythmic patterns are very repetitive, hypnotic and can give listeners a euphoric feeling - no wonder it's called "trance." Trance has become the most popular style of electronic dance music because it's edgier than house, more soothing than drum 'n' bass and more melodic than techno. Subgenres of trance include acid trance, progressive trance, psychedelic trance and Goa trance, which originated in Goa, India in the early '90s.


Electronica - Breakbeat

The break is the resting point in a musical piece where all the instruments stop except for the drums, so this is the time for the drummer to shine! In 1969, DJ Kool Herc introduced the Bronx scene to breakbeat music with a skill known as "cutting breaks." But it was Grandmaster Flash, the legendary hip hop pioneer, who first used breaks and created breakmixing into his music. In order to dance to this style of music, peeps invented breakdancing and came to be known as break-boys, or b-boys. During the early '90s, new styles of breakbeat called Big Beat and Chemical Breaks emerged, with acts like The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim. They tend to have distorted breakbeats, acidic synthesizers, and punk-style vocals mixed with pop and techno music.


Electronica - Jungle

Jungle received its name through its connection with reggae music. It's a form of hardcore techno that uses a drum machine with a low bass. The rhythms are usually more complex and the tempo is usually faster than other styles of techno. Jungle is considered to be the black sheep of the electronic music family cuz of it's rough, abrasive and crusty sounds. The cleaner, smoothed-out version of jungle is drum 'n' bass. Examples of drum 'n bass artists include Elements of Noize, Grooverider Neotropic and Hydrophonix.


Electronica - Downtempo

When you need a break from dancing and just wanna chill, downtempo music is what you want to be listening to. It includes Ambient, which is like the music you hear in department stores and elevators - but it's not elevator music. It's quiet and slower electronica music that kinda takes you on a musical journey. Because the drumbeats and music are repeated throughout, it can be trance-like. It often has samples of cosmic space-age noises or chants. Examples of ambient artists include Delerium, Orb and Medicine Drum. Another style of downtempo music is Trip Hop. It's really, really slow, usually with female vocals that seem to drag along rather than actually sing.


Related Stories:

  • Grandmaster Flash Interview
  • Mixin' - Into The Groove with Fatboy Slim
  • The Prodigy - The Experience Expanded CD Review
  • Perry Farrell - Song Yet To Be Sung CD Review
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    Fave Style of Electronica?

    • House.
    • Trance.
    • Breakbeat.
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