Music is such a large part of our lives, but we often overlook the cultural significance of it. While electronic music is often dismissed as boring, repetitive, or even ‘fake’ by non-fans, its history and influence on popular culture is undeniable. This blog explores the history and significance of German electronic music, from Kraftwerk (the first group to make electronic music) to modern house DJs like Paul van Dyk.
If you’re like me, you’ve walked through the mall and seen teenagers in Abercrombie shirts with headphone wires hanging out of their ears and thought to yourself ‘What’s the deal with German electronic music?’ It’s easy to dismiss this genre as boring and repetitive. But if you look at its roots in Germany in the 70s, when it was formed by experimental artists who were trying to be as anti-mainstream as possible (clearly they succeeded), it becomes clear that electronic music is an important part of modern society and culture. From industrial to house music, the genre has influenced almost all genres of popular music since its inception.
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So…what’s the deal with German electronic music?
What could it be about Germans, or about Germany, that makes them so good at making electronic music? Is there some intangible cultural quality that makes Germans good at this? Are they just better trained at the technicalities of electronic music? Is Germany a country that attracts individuals who are interested in electronic music, thus creating a concentration of talent? Or is there something about German culture that fosters this type of music?
One thing is for sure: Germany has produced some of the most influential and groundbreaking electronic musicians. And these musicians have created numerous different genres of electronic music. When I was younger, I thought, “Oh, German people must be really into techno and trance,” because those were the only types of German electronic music played on the radio. But now I know that Germany has produced many types of electronic music in addition to techno and trance.
I’m writing this blog to educate the reader on the history and significance of German electronic music.
The first time I visited Berlin, I was struck by a sense of how different it is from the rest of Europe.
The city has a reputation as an artistic and creative hub, with a special emphasis on electronic music.
Berlin’s preeminence in the genre can be traced in part to its history – divided by the Wall for over thirty years, West Berlin became a haven for artists and musicians looking to escape the confines of East Germany.
In addition to being an important part of Berlin’s cultural identity, electronic music is also a significant source of income for the city.
Electronic music-related tourism is worth over 100 million euros per year to Berlin’s economy.
But it’s not just tourists who are descending on Berlin – there has been an influx of new residents, many of them young, who are drawn by the city’s thriving electronic music scene.
This influx has caused real estate prices to skyrocket, particularly in the trendy areas where electronic music clubs cluster – Kreuzberg and Neukölln.
There is something about German electronic music that separates it from the rest of the world. It’s a fascinating phenomenon, an enigma that this blog will hopefully shed some light on.
I’ve never met anyone who knew anything about German electronic music. If you mention Kraftwerk, people will nod their heads and say “yeah, I know that one song.” But even those who consider themselves reasonably well-versed in electronic music don’t know much more than that; they think of Kraftwerk as a novelty act or some kind of retro fad.
And yet, if you were to ask someone who knows anything about German electronic music–i.e., Germans–they would tell you with all seriousness that Kraftwerk is the most important group in the history of modern music. They would say this not with a trace of irony, but in a way that suggests they are stating the obvious, or perhaps even just passing on a fact which they think everyone already knows.
It is easy to listen to the music of Germany and think that it is all techno. Of course, this would not be an unfair assessment, as Germany has been one of the leading creators and exporters of techno for decades. But there is a lot more to the music scene in Germany than just techno. There are a few other genres that have come out of the country that are just as influential and have shaped electronic music into what it is today.
When you think of German electronic music, the first thought that comes to mind is likely techno. This genre began in Detroit in the mid-’80s by a number of African-American artists who were trying to create something new and different. However, soon after its birth, techno was adopted by Germany, which began creating its own version of the genre called “German Techno.”
In Germany, techno took on a darker tone than it did in Detroit. The music was built on hard bass lines and stripped down percussion that created a futuristic sound that was still very much rooted in the soulful origins of techno. It also had lyrics that were often political and dealt with social issues like racism and inequality. Of course, this was due to the fact that many German artists who created this type of music were from poor neighborhoods
The only real difference between Germany and the other countries in the world is that Germany has five times as much electronic music as any other country, and also five times as many places to buy it, and also a public radio station that plays nothing but electronic music. The only country with a serious chance of catching up is Japan, which has been putting out its fair share of electronic music for over a decade now. But their music is weird, so it’s not like they pose a threat yet.
Why do they make so much electronic music? I don’t know. Ask them. It’s not like they’re winning medals at the Olympics or anything; they’ve got time on their hands. It’s not even like there are any record labels in Germany; most German electronic musicians release their records on their own. And yet no matter how many Germans make electronic music, there still seem to be plenty more who want to buy it.
American kids are just now starting to catch on to this electronic thing – you can even see them moving their heads to the beat sometimes – but if you really want to get in touch with your inner German, you can head down to your favorite local record shop this weekend and pick up some of these:
The German electronic music scene has always been at the forefront of the genre since its beginnings in the early 20th century.
Today, the types of music that have come out of Germany are popular worldwide. Nearly every major club and city has an abundance of German influences whether it be in the form of DJs or producers.
But what makes this music so different from other styles? What makes it so special and why does it seem to always stand out from the rest?
Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent genres that have come from Germany and how they differ from others around the world:
• Technical House is a genre that has become widely popular in Germany over the past few years. It typically consists of long flowing melodies with heavy basslines and a very bouncy feel to them.
• Electro House is another style which was created by German artists such as DJ Tiesto. This type tends to have more upbeat tempos than other genres like dubstep or trance but still maintains its own unique sound thanks to its fast tempo which usually ranges between 160-180 beats per minute (BPM).
• Deep House is often considered one of the most relaxing forms because it incorporates many elements found within ambient music such as synthesizers,