What Is Electronic Music?

A disc jockey (DJ) using a mixer board to enhance the experience of dancing club-goers.
A disc jockey (DJ) using a mixer board to enhance the experience of dancing club-goers.

From disco to dubstep, electronic music is one of the broadest categories of the modern era. This form of music is popular across most countries all around the world. Electronic music includes a wide variety of musical styles. It has been around for over 50 years from the era of Moog’s progressive rock to Moroder’s driving anthem. Electronic music has transformed the production and quality of music played today. In contrast to traditional music, electronic music allows for flexibility and creativity in the music production and play including voice modification and background beats.

5. Overview and Characteristics -

Electronic music employs the use of electronic musical instruments and technology in the production of the music. Any music produced and modified through any electronic means can be categorized under electronic music. However, for music to be precisely electronic then the composer of the music must interact with the electronic medium and electronic processing applied to his musical concept. Electronic music is produced from different sound resources including microphones, electronic oscillator, and computer installations that are recorded then edited to produce the desired music. Electronic music, except the live electronic music, is normally played back through a loudspeaker accompanied by other musical instruments or alone. Electronic music is not a style or genre of music but rather a technique of producing music.

4. Origins -

Electronic music was a major aspect in the development of music as a whole throughout the 20th Century. The development of electronic musical instruments was as a result of the various experiments by the music producers and composers using the emerging electronics. The electronic musical instruments were used to reproduce existing music and for public performance instead of producing a new song. Some of the instruments, such as the Telharmonium, were able to synthesize sounds of orchestral instruments. Ferruccio Busoni encouraged the use of electronic instruments in the composition of microtonal music. He was instrumental in the promotion of electronic music predicting the use of a machine in future music production, a prediction which came true almost immediately.

3. Spread and Development -

In 1935, the first audio tape recorder was unveiled, possessing with it an improved recording fidelity. Test recording for the stereo began in 1942 and was confined to Germany. At the end of the World War II, recorders and tapes were brought into the US marking the beginning of commercially-produced tape recorder. The magnetic audio tapes ushered in the vast range of sonic possibilities to the artist, composers and producers. The audio tapes were cheap and reliable making it more popular than any other audio medium. The tape can be edited, slowed down, played back, and forwarded. Electro-acoustic tape music was produced in 1944 due to the convenience of using the tape. Immediately, composers in Paris began producing using the tape recorders to enhance composition technique called Musique Concrete. The impact of computer led to the further spread of electronic music around the world.

2. Notable Artists and Instruments Used -

The first notable effort to generate electronic music was made by Thaddeus Cahill at the turn of the 20th Century, who converted electrical signals into sounds using rotary generator and telephone receiver. He called his invention telharmonium. Luigi Russolo, an Italian futurist painter, proposed the replacement of old music with the music produced using instruments reflecting current technology. He built a mechanically-activated noise instrument called the intonarumori. Laurens Hammond invented the Hammond organ in the 1930s, which produces a harmonic content which does not diminish as the player goes up the keyboard.

1. Greater Significance and Legacy -

The ongoing growth in the field of electronic music in the 21st Century has been largely attributed to the concurrent rise and development of the Internet. Streaming music and video websites such as Spotify and YouTube have made accessing music easier than ever before. Promoting electronic music has also been made easier especially for artist who could land record deals before. Artists spend less time in studios to record songs and are thus able to record more songs within a short period. Artist can also create their software synthesizer and various composition environments to make their music.


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