Use of textures and layers in sound using electronics and repetitive,
drawn out passages and percussive loops. Usually described as mood or
atmospheric music which sets the stage using pitch, tone and sonic
soundscape. Commonly referred to as "background" music, ambient is
anything but as it is meant to enhance or heighten the aural experience,
rather than fade into the surroundings.
Brian Eno, Biosphere, Erik Satie, Steve Roach
New Age music is meant to be relaxing, background music and is (often)
non-melodic. It creates a pleasant atmosphere for the listener without
demanding too much attention. The goal of new age music is to produce
inner harmony and relieve stress. Often elements of nature (running
streams, light rain) are added to the music to help induce changes in
conciousness. See sub-styles of New Age music below.
Yanni, Vangelis, Higher Intelligence Agency, Mannheim Steamroller,
Suzanne Ciani, Davol, Fowler & Branca
The Soundscapes genre is perhaps best described as exploring the
characteristics and properties of sound. This leaves the genre open to a
wide variety of different sounds and styles but the main characteristic
of the genre is to highlight certain sounds or noise or create a harmony
of sounds to induce visual imagery. Soundscapes can range from natural,
environmental themes to urban themes or focus strictly on a simple
premise such as "clouds" or "wind."
Practically any form of music that uses sampled drum loops, usually
manipulated and layered with other percussive elements to give a vibrant,
clean groove. These grooves are often quite complex and link up very
tightly with an accompanying bassline groove to give a very funky,
danceable rhythm. This is the basis of breakbeat; other than that,
anything goes, making breakbeat one of the most flexible genres of
electronic music there is.
Freestylers, Hybrid, Leftfield
As the name suggests, bigbeat is based around massive beats and breaks
which dominate the feel of the tracks. Tight, danceable grooves are an
essential, while melodies usually consist of layered samples, rock style
song structures and catchy hooks.
Fatboy Slim, Chemical Brothers, Propellerheads, Bentley Rhythm Ace
Chillout tends to be used as a generic term to describe music that
conjures up visual images. Much of it is down-tempo or moody but this
tends to be up to the producer to define his or her vision of Chillout.
The recent commercial success of Chillout has further complicated the
characterisation of the genre with many tunes from the past making it
into this category. A typical commercial chillout CD may have Ennio
Morricone sitting alongside Groove Armada or Massive Attack giving way to
Jean Michel-Jarre such is the diversity of popular taste.
Drum N Bass:
Fast paced "breakbeat" styled drums with predominant bassline structure
of either an acousitc or electronic nature. Modern day characterics
though could range from a broad base of inspirations including jazz / hip
hop / techno / house and various ethnic based music forms.
John B, Dillinja, Ram Trilogy, Dom & Roland, Cycom, Waveshaper
Drum N Bass\Atmospheric Dnb:
Typically, atmospheric drum and bass features fast breakbeats with a
smoothly flowing, heavy bassline. The style is heavily influenced by
jazz, jazz fusion, ambient, trip hop and/or funk which sets it apart from
standard drum and bass. It's "atmospheric" in sound. Ambient styled pads
or other rich atmospheric sounds accompany simple fast paced "breakbeat"
styled drums with normally deep sub bassline structure of either an
acoustic or electronic nature. Influences can range from a broad base of
inspirations including jazz/hip hop/techno/house and various ethnical
based music forms.
LTJ Bukem, Big Bud, Omni Trio, Fingertwister, Mat e, Fourier Wave Device
Drum N Bass\Experimental Dnb:
Experimental Drum & Bass pushes down the boundaries of the more "dance
floor" styled DnB and encourages listeners to focus on the "head beat
feast." The emphasis of Experimental Drum & Bass is on the music and the
aural journey, not the dance floor.
Drum N Bass\Jungle:
Jungle began as a combination of hip hop, rave and hardcore typified by
the complex snare patterns and fast paced percussions. It's generally
accompanied by deep, simple basslines. Jungle is usually about 160 bpm
and often has reggae/dub influences.
Drum N Bass\Tech Step
The make-up of a tech-step track would follow these rough guidelines –
the beats would be hard and ‘artificial' (some would say industrial),
although in more recent examples of the genre there has been more
diversity, with artists using more crisp and refined drums for their
rhythms. This could possibly be a back-lash against the hard/industrial
edge, as artists explore the deeper side of the sound such as is found in
Distorted filtered basslines (using synths such as the Access Virus
range) are a mainstay of this type of music, but artists have tended to
‘over-use' this idea, which has pushed more innovative artists in new
directions. Fm, or another type of synthesis will most likely change the
face of Techstep, giving it a whole new fresh feel.
Ed Rush, Nico, Trace, Decoder, Dredd Bass, Ice Minus
The term "progressive" has been attached to a number of genres over the
years to describe a style where the music progresses continually,
introducing new themes and integrating them with old themes. Chords shift
to melodies and vice versa, often using non-traditional time signatures.
As the title suggests, Progressive Electronica introduces new electronic
instruments to the song.
Heavily inspired by classical music, symphonic electronica makes use of
synthesizers to create melodies and patterns into a symphony – of sorts.
Using synthesized orchestral instruments, the music is often accompanied
by complicated sound effects and, often, progressive melodies with very
Christopher Franke, Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre
Abstract Music a.k.a. Absolute Music is music that does not try to tell a
story, narrative, or convey a point, meaning, or emotion. It is music
that is created for the sole purpose of exploring the music, in itself,
without attaching any intellectual or emotional ideas to the composition.
Rather than using complex musical structures, the minimalist composer
attempts to convey the very most with the very least amount of musical
elements. Techniques vary but the minimal composition usually includes
repeating patterns of various duration, volume, and speed, that pulse,
phase, fade, or maintain steady throughout the song. These patterns can
be rhythms, notes, chords, loops, samples, simple harmonies, or other
elements. The general tendency is to allow the composition to build
slowly and either add or subtract elements sparingly along the way for
maximum effect. Due to the patterned nature of most minimal songs,
minimalism is often said to have a hypnotic or mantra like quality and,
thus, it adapts well to practices such as meditation or yoga which are
also concerned with stripping away the excesses and getting down to the
purest possible form.
Phillip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley
Noise is a mixture of various noise (black, white, pink) and static with
little or no regard to musical content or beat. It's usually pretty
aggressive. The genre is usually followed by industrial fans and the
philosophy is to break from the norm of "accepted" music similar to
Genesis P. Oridge and his break from punk to industrial.
aka The Sunday Scene, aka Underground Garage, aka Speed Garage
Most recognisable for its clipped 2step beats, at around 130bpm, and deep
basses reminiscent of drum and bass. Vocals are almost essential, either
house style singing or hip-hop style rapping. Melodies are usually very
basic but catchy.
Armand Van Helden, Dreem Teem, Artful Dodger, True Steppers, So Solid
Also known as House Garage
Origins in disco and soul, 4/4 beat - House Music but more emphasis on
the laid back style and soul of Deep House.
House, with its origins in disco and soul, has a four quarter beat with
slower tempo, normally about 120 bpm, a simple piano loop and sometimes
vocals (depending on the sub-style). The kick is featured on the 1/4 note
with hihats in between, usually on every other 8th note. Often a snare on
the 2 and 4 in the 4/4 beat for an uncomplicated rhythm
Marshall Jefferson (Move Your Body The House Music Anthem), Frankie
Knuckles, Adonis, House Master Boyz, Ron Hardy, Phuture (creators of Acid
House with Acid Trax), Farley Jackmaster Funk, Raze
Acid House is similar to classic House but (mostly) lacks the vocals. The
primary factor is the 303 bass sound, originating with the Roland TB303.
Acid House has that psychedelic, trippy flavour, simple and
monotonous/repetitive 4/4 beats, high pitched and fast melodies
Phuture (Acid Trax), Adonis, D. Mob, Mr Monday
Four quarter beat House Music, uncomplicated repetitive rhythm. Normally
harder than Classic House and more groove (bass) oriented. Deep House
used real vocals rather than samples.
Fingers Inc./Mr.Fingers, The Nightwriters (Let The Music Use You)
Fast House/Trance hybrid with off-the beat basslines, 150+ beats per
minute, often with pitched up vocals or small modified vocal snatches.
Short breakdowns and high-energy elements in repetitive styles. A common
sound is the "hoover" – not that of a cleaning tool but a specifi hard
and short trance pad with sharp cut-off run through a fuzzbox.
Lisa Lashes (Artist and DJ), Fergie (Artist and DJ), Anne Savage (DJ),
John Kelly (DJ), Project Mayhem, Public Domain
IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) is typically made up of intensely complex
rhythmic structure. This rhythmic complexity is not purely the domain of
the drums themselves, but is rather supported by every instrumental
element. This is most notable in the "cut up" influence (1940's art of
cutting audio tape and splicing into minute samples and loops). Many
times, what would seem to be the "master" mix will be hacked into very
small fragments and step-sequenced in a nontraditional, sporadic manner.
In addition to the over-the-top and unpredictable step sequencing, a
notable melodic element will be incorporated. It is this blend of
mechanical extremities and contrasting musical integrity that lend the
overall "intelligence" of IDM. IDM is not meant to be danced to, but is
in fact the antithesis of club music. IDM is the electronic choice of the
"honest listener" -- a listener who will may be stimulated by the
extremities and conversely, the aural aesthetic of -- synthetic music.
Some listeners also claim that there is an intentionally quirky, nearly
campy aspect of the sound that helps the style not to seem too extremely
Black Dog, Autechre, Aphex Twin, Lexaunculpt, Squarepusher, Bochum Welt,
Funkstorung, Future Sound of London, Amon Tobin, Kid606 and more.
Glitch music started with the help of computer technology that helped
make super small and subtle sounds. The music is minimal, IDM related and
rythmic yet do not contain any percussion, easy to recognise instruments
or even instruments really.
Robert Hood, Basic Channel, Oval, Pole, Pan Sonic, Vladislav Delay,
Fennesz, Kid 606
Illbient derives its name from "ill" and "ambient," as illbient music
serves as the antidote to ambient. Where ambient music often focuses on
natural themes, illbient has a darker focus on the urban landscape. The
genre generally combines ambient, dub, hip hop, drum & bass in a downbeat
rhythm with chaotic sampling, city noises and filtering to create a,
generally, non-melodic track.
DJ Spooky, Byzar, SubDub, We
Experimental noise, various 'industrial' sounds like drills, machinery,
electronic sounds, cut and paste music (early industrial). Now the style
industrial incorporates distorted/effected vocals, heavy percussion and
Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire (all early front runners), SPK,
Whitehouse, Esplendor Geometrico, Skinny Puppy, Test Department,
Darkwave is a relatively new branch of industrial music, combining the
harsh nature of older industrial music with elements of dance and goth.
Distorted vocals, commanding dance rhythms, electronic elements.
Das Ich, Endraum, NIN
Electronic Body Music Short for "Electronic Body Music," EBM is a word
coined by Front 242 in the early 80s to describe a purely electronic
style of dance music characterized by mechanical sounds and beats,
bassline melodies, media samples and an agressive tempo. This is not
playful dance music, though it is definitely enjoyed best on the
dancefloor in a dark setting. EBM is the first offshoot of the Industrial
genre, and shares many similarities to its bigger and uglier brother.
However, EBM, like the name implies, is primarily concerned with moving
your body and could be considered techno for angry young men.
DAF, Front 242, SA42, The Neon Judgement, Nitzer Ebb, Frontline Assembly,
Leather Strip, Funker Vogt, Covenant, Assemblage 23
Heavy dance beats (4/4), distorted/effected vocals. Very similar to EBM
but more aggressive.
Front Line Assembly, Numb, Funker Vogt, KMFDM
aka Coldwave Industrial Dance rhythms, use of media samples combined with
heavy guitar. Distorted, effected vocals, elements of electronic
Skinny Puppy (The Process is a classic), Pigface, Pitch Shifter,
Ministry, Millennium, Killing Joke, The Young Gods
Mid to fast tempo, repetitive looping, a lack of progressive melodies and
a mechanical feel are all things that can be said to describe techno, the
longest-lasting style of electronic dance music. Although sonically
related to its sister style, house, techno began as an artistic response
to delapitated, industrial environments and the monotony of daily life,
and this is evidenced through its hard and minimal nature. Since its
inception in the early 80s, techno has gone through more changes than
almost any other genre yet is still popular today in many countries.
Although the early Detroit sound still continues among purists, techno
has since branched off into many forms: acid, experimenal, minimal, deep,
tribal and hard, as well as genre-mixes with trance and house. Remember
that "techno" does not simply mean electronic dance music (a common
misconception); although it has fractured into the aforementioned styles,
it is still a specific genre that has an entirely unique background and
Jeff Mills, Plastikman, Hardfloor, Ben Sims, Adam Beyer, Cari Lekebusch,
Marco Carola, Thomas Krome, Glenn Wilson, Henrik B, The Advent, Robert
Hood, Darren Price, Joey Beltram, Luke Slater
Techno music but with Ambient influences and elements. Generally a
mellow, quieter techno with percussive elements but making use of the
ambient type soundscape. Ambient Electronic is often thought of as softer
and more dreamy than Ambient Techno which tends to have a harsher
sound/beat combined with atmospheric elements.
Aphex Twin, The Orb, Future Sound of London (Lifeforms), Tangerine Dream,
The genre Detroit is generally a mix of House music and Acid, but with a
harsher edge. Developed in the 1980's (credited to Derrick May, Juan
Atkins and Kevin Saunderson), the Detroit sound came to be associated
with the use of the TR808 (drum machine) and the TB303, and for its
deeply layered rhythms and basic underlying and pounding beat. Sometimes
described as "cold" and "dark."
Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, Richie Hawtin, Kenny Larkin
Loud, fast, aggressive techno is the generally accepted description of
hardcore, usually in the range of 180-190 bpm. Developed via the techno
and rave scenes in the early 1990's, hardcore is a more abrasive and
frantic form of techno characterized by distorted, pounding beats (TR909
was common), more aggressive synth lines and synth stabs.
Uptempo, uplifting and often euphoric energetic synthesized sounds pumped
by a 4/4 beat and massive hooks, often with long breakdowns building
slowly to create a tension and expectancy on the dancefloor. Often with
driving off-the-beat basslines and utilising major and minor chords in
sequence, trance tracks can take a central "epic" form of commercial
dance or the form of one of several sub-genres including Goa trance with
its acid-like dreamscapes, Psytrance with its repetitive hallucinogenic
properties and Hard trance with its beat-driven, 303 like overtones.
Platipus, Kinetic, Ministry of Sound, Dragonfly, K-tel (!) – yup, they
did the epic Euphoria series, Perfecto (Oakenfold's label), Man With No
Name, Jon The Dentist
The precursor to Progressive Trance, Ambient Trance is a dreamy, hypnotic
and intelligent style of trance, mostly German, that utilizes atmospheric
pads, epic melodic progressions and occasionally symphonic arrangements.
It is not to be confused with commercial, mainstream trance from artists
such as ATB or Darude. At times borrowing elements from the earlier acid
movement, such as rezzy 303 leads and minimal percussion, but based more
on the spiritual experience that Goa Trance has since trademarked,
Ambient Trance is an often-forgetton but extremely influential style that
took rave music to a higher and more profound level. Sometimes called
"Oldschool Trance" because it has since been left behind for the harder
styles popular today.
Cosmic Baby, Astralasia, Resistance D, Brainchild, Vapourspace,
Microglobe, Humate, Virtual Symmetry, Salt Tank, Sven Väth (old), Oliver
Stylistically, Goa Trance has grown to mean many things. Some cliches
that have remained are huge basses, deep kicks, and 16th or 32nd note
melodies. Since the main drug of choice in India was L.S.D., Goa
producers took full advantage of this and crafted their tracks to weave
and twist and carry the listener away on washes of analog effects and
sounds. A Goa Trance track typically ranges from 8 to 10 minutes, its
length acting as a direct relation to the idea of a journey: for the
first few minutes, the music builds and intensifies until the climax at
around the 5 or 6 minute mark. After this climax, there is a long period
of time for the DJ to decide whether to let this journey continue, or to
jump to something new and different.
Man With No Name, Kox Box, Hallucinogen, Prana, Kuro, Psygone, Colorbox,
Hard Trance, as the title suggests, blends tradional trance sounds and
structure with harder elements more reminiscent of Acid and Techno. The
tempo is generally increased to between 145 and 150 and the kick drum and
bass is usually a focus for a clubbing audience.
Nick Sentience, Karim, Salmon Ravager, Phil Reynolds, Andy Farley
Slow tempo Hip Hop beat (normally under 115 or 120 bpm), dub bass, reggae
influences, usually with vocals and various other trippy/dreamy sounds.
Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky