The History of Electronic Music: An informative blog on the history of electronic music. Covering the years from the early beginnings to the present day.
The History of Electronic Music – The 80s
The History of Electronic Music – The 80s
In the 1980’s, Electro and House music were invented. In the 1980’s, Electro and House music were invented. This was a time when new technology meant that for the first time in history, people could buy their own synths and drum machines and make their own records at home. This period also saw the rise of dance music as a serious genre with artists like Depeche Mode making regular top ten hits in Britain and America.
The person who made this all happen was a man called Robert Moog (rhymes with rogue), he created an affordable synthesiser which became known as the Minimoog. I think we all know what that is!
Electro music began to be created in New York, Miami and Detroit where an artist called Juan Atkins began making tracks under the name Cybotron which then evolved into a style known as Techno. Techno is still very popular today and can be heard in clubs around the world.
The History of Electronic Music: An informative blog on the history of electronic music.
The term “Electronic Music” was originally coined for the early works like “Six Studies in English Folk Song” by Arnold Schoenberg, who was one of the first people to use a machine in making it. In the 1950s, various electronic devices were created and introduced to the public. These machines were used to produce a wide range of sounds, including the ones made by humans.
One of the most popular early electronic instruments was the Buchla synthesizer. One of its most famous users was John Cage, who used it to create various musical compositions. Another early electronic instrument that was widely used in electronic music is the ARP 2600 synthesizer. It was mainly used in jazz and pop music during this period.
In 1964, a new type of electronic instrument called a MIDI controller was developed by Robert Moog. This instrument is still being used today in many different types of music. Other early electronic instruments include the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer and Yamaha DX9 synthesizer.
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For those of you after a little background information on electronic music, this section of the site will help in your understanding of how it came about and why it sounded the way it did. In other words what were the main instruments and how did they work?
The first electronic instrument was produced by Thaddeus Cahill in 1897. This was the Telharmonium. The Telharmonium weighed two hundred tons and had been designed to bring music from New York into peoples homes via telephone lines. However, as you can imagine, this idea never really caught on (it would have cost about $1000 for a 20 minute concert) and it died after being used only once or twice for entertainment purposes.
One could say that electronic music came into its own in the 1980’s. This was the decade that saw the birth of many genres of electronic music, and helped push many artists into the mainstream.
The early 80’s saw the emergence of house music in Chicago, where DJs would remix and layer disco beats with new wave sounds, creating a new form of dance music. The sound quickly spread to other cities, such as Detroit and New York. The genre would also help pioneer the use of samplers, which would become an integral part of hip-hop music a few years later.
As hip-hop grew from being a local phenomenon to becoming a worldwide phenomenon, it too embraced sampling technology to create new sounds. A number of groups began to incorporate electro beats into their sound, such as Afrika Bambaataa and Planet Rock (1982), Hashim’s Al-Naafiysh (It’s Time) (1983), and Herbie Hancock’s Rockit (1983).
In England, much like house music in America circa 1984/1985, DJ’s like Paul Oakenfold were remixing tracks by adding drum machines and synthesizers to them. This was also around the time when groups like New Order had begun experimenting with samplers and sequencers
In the early 80s after the birth of disco, there was a backlash against it. This came in the form of punk music and the new rock scene. With this new music came a more abrasive sound, less melodic and often very loud. The energy level was high, and the music was rough around the edges. It was a perfect backdrop for the underground club scene which was taking place at that time.
Electronic music had already been present during these parties through italo-disco and synth pop bands. In particular, Kraftwerk was one of the most influential bands of this era, bridging the gap between electronic music and pop culture. They combined robotic vocals with a synthetic sound to create a futuristic sound that incorporated elements of science fiction. Their album “Trans-Europe Express” (1977) is considered one of the most important albums in electronic music history.
In 1979, Giorgio Moroder introduced electronic instruments into mainstream pop music with his number one hit Donna Summer single “I Feel Love”. He then began a collaboration with David Bowie on his album “Let’s Dance” which spawned several hits including “Let’s Dance”, “China Girl”, and “Modern Love”. It has been described as Bowie’s most successful album ever released, selling
Electronic music is often considered to be a product of the late twentieth century, but it has its roots in the work of many early twentieth century European composers. A lot of these composers were interested in creating music that was fundamentally new, rather than just copies of previous classical and folk music. Many used non-traditional techniques and instruments, such as radio static, test oscillators, shortwave radio, records played at different speeds and tape loops. Prominent examples include Edgard Varese’s Ionisation (1931), the first piece for percussion orchestra; Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Gesang der Junglinge (1956), which employed electronically generated sounds; and Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony (1948), which used electronic keyboards to produce exotic sounds.
Two electronic instruments were particularly important in the development of electronic music: the theremin and the trautonium. The theremin was invented by Leon Theremin in 1919 and was originally intended to be controlled without physical contact from the player. An antenna allows the player to control pitch, while a second loop controls volume.
The trautonium was invented by Friedrich Trautwein in 1930. It is similar to a theremin, but is played with a keyboard controlling its
Towards the end of the 1970’s and into the early 1980’s the music scene was changing dramatically. In 1978, in Germany, Kraftwerk released a concept album entitled The Man-Machine which produced, among other hits, Das Modell (The Model) and Die Roboter (The Robots).
The album was rich with synthesized sounds and robotic vocals. At first this music was dismissed as “Deutsche Techno” but it was soon to become very popular in Britain.
In 1979 Gary Numan released Cars which featured heavy use of synthesizers and drum machines.
By the early 80s several bands had adopted synthesizers as an integral part of their sound – these include Tubeway Army whose lead singer Gary Numan had already established himself as a solo artist after his early successes with Tubeway Army. Other bands included Ultravox, Depeche Mode, OMD, Visage, New Musik and The Human League.
This type of music became known as “electro-pop” or “synth-pop”.