Music! It is obviously why we are on this planet. Okay, maybe not, but it’s one thing that makes life worth living. There are songs that make you want to cry, songs that make you want to dance, songs that make you want to kiss someone or maybe do something a little more wink-emoji appropriate. There is a song for every occasion, every mood, every thing you’re doing in your life, good and bad. Music is everywhere. It’s in your head when you wake up, and probably in your head before you fall asleep. If you love music, you came to the right place.
There are so many types of music, but the focus of this article is Electronic Dance Music, or EDM. When people hear EDM, they think of the wildfire of electronic sounds in popular songs today. Hip hop, rock, and even country are integrating electronic instruments and sounds in their music. With its widespread acceptance, it has a mixed effect on a lot of people. Some love it, some hate it, but whether they like it or not, it is here to stay. With that being said, let’s delve deep into the history and future of Electronic Music.
Around the end of the 19th century, artists and musicians were toying with the idea of creating musical sounds from seemingly impossible methods. They were trying to create new instruments out of electricity, something that has never been heard of and most people would think was not plausible. These creative geniuses weren’t necessarily successful. The process was a very slow one, and all the sounds they created were considered “noise”; roars, wobbles and screeches. They did invent a few new instruments, one of which was the Theremin. The Theremin was the first instrument made that didn’t require any physical contact to use. It was used by an antennae and a metal loop, with both hands controlling the frequency and the volume of the notes. Oh, the humble beginnings.
In the 50’s, some French musicians started using turntables, four channel mixers, fillers, and echo chambers to perform live music. It did not go well at first, but it started a movement. Around the same time, German and Japanese musicians were doing the same types of experiments. Trying to find a way to make music electronically was the biggest obstacle in the industry. As they worked on these instruments, they developed newer and better ways to record audio. They were trying to modify sounds from the natural world, and one artist used factory sounds, ship sirens, and distorted motors for an installation that was deemed emotionally isolating and depressing, but it was a start. In the decades to come, the first synthesizers were made as well as the first computers with the sole purpose of composing music. The ever popular drum machines were becoming more accepted and the infamous 808 drum kit was born.
Europe, Japan, and America were leading the world in terms of electronic music. It didn’t become popular until the mid to late 80’s, when the bass synth was incorporated into modern rock and pop songs. Circuit bending became prominent for certain experimental artists. Circuit bending is when electronic devices or toys were altered to make noise with the intention for music making, such as the Atari systems and the popular Speak & Spell.
These days, music making is a little simpler. Programs like Ableton Live and Propellerhead’s Reason make synthetic music creating as easy as downloading a program on your laptop. Let the bass drop! With a good sound system, the development of bass has changed the world. Below 90-100 Hz, bass is a physical thing that can be felt in your organs and in your bones.
From trying to turn waves into music, to making music turn into waves that resonate and vibrate with your molecular frequency, electronic music has come a long way. Beginning with 19th century people who just wanted to create something new, to modern day artists who want to do exactly the same, electronic music is something that thinks outside the fusebox. It takes the impossible, grabs it and twists it into unbelievable contortions. It takes the what if’s and makes them a reality. Electronic music is so much more than music, it’s a group of individuals and communities that are changing the course of history and technology as we know it. It’s making some pretty big waves, and we are enjoying the high tide.