Why The 80’s Were The Golden Age Of Electronic Music: A blog around the introduction of electronic music in the 80’s and how it became such a symbol of that time.
Electronic music is a strange thing. It’s not quite mainstream, but it’s not niche either. It’s somewhere in between. It can be difficult to classify, because of its many sub-genres, but I think that this is what makes it so interesting. We can look at a piece of music, and try to figure out why it sounds the way it does, and what its influences were.
For a while now I’ve been interested in the history of electronic music, and specifically how it became so popular in the 80’s. More often than not, when you think of electronic music you think of the 80’s.
There are a lot of reasons why this was the case, most significantly though is that there were a number of technological advancements that allowed electronic music to become more accessible than ever before.
Electronic music has a very long history, but synthesizers as we know them today were not created until the early 20th century. Every decade saw a new wave of technological innovations and different styles of music that came with them. The 80’s were no exception. But the 80’s had something that no other decade did: it was a time when electronic music finally found its own identity.
It started in the 70’s when disco music was at its peak and synths were becoming more common in bands. The first commercially successful synthesizers emerged in the mid 70’s, giving birth to a whole new generation of bands. Groups like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk pioneered this new genre, creating an entirely new sound for their listeners. But there was still so much more undiscovered territory left to be explored.
The 80’s were like an explosion of creativity in electronic music. Artists from all over the world were experimenting with new sounds, pushing the limits of what they could do with technology that was still relatively new at the time (and very expensive!). In fact some of the most famous songs in history are actually based off of old synth riffs that have been sped up or slowed down just enough so they sound completely different now than they did originally!
In the 1980s, electronic music was a novelty. Just imagine: no electronic music existed before the 1980s. In fact, you could even argue that it was in this decade when electronic music made its debut on the scene.
As far as I know, there were only two synth pop bands in the 70s and they both came from Germany: Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Even though their music was really good, it did not go anywhere because people were not ready for it yet. The reason for that is because the synthesizer was still a very new instrument and most people didn’t even know what it was back then. This all changed when Jean Michel Jarre released his album Oxygene in 1977.
Jean Michel Jarre was a French musician who became famous for his live performances of electronic music with laser displays and fireworks. It was also the first album to use a synthesizer as main instrument which makes it an important milestone in electronic music history. His album Oxygene sold over 12 million copies worldwide and became one of the biggest hits ever recorded by man until Michael Jackson’s Thriller came along some years later (though I still think Thriller is better than any other album ever made).
But while Jean Michel Jarre was doing his
The 1980s were a golden age for electronic music. A new generation of musicians and producers, from both the UK and the USA, were interested in using electronics to create music that was not only futuristic, but also more transparent and flexible in its compositional structure. As well as being fascinated by the technology available at the time, this new wave of artists were also inspired by their own personal experiences with drugs such as MDMA and LSD. Electronic dance music was an expression of freedom and liberation in the face of an increasingly conservative and repressive society.
The evolution of electronic music was largely driven by changes in technology that made it easier to produce and distribute music, which led to greater experimentation with new sounds and techniques. The introduction of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) provided a standard way for different instruments to communicate with each other and allowed producers to sequence notes across multiple tracks – enabling them to record songs on tape or floppy disk rather than just playing them live on stage. This enabled artists like Depeche Mode (who had previously been limited by their analogue synthesizers) to create more complex compositions such as “People Are People” without having any musical training whatsoever!…
It’s the summer of 1983: You’re cruising down the highway in your BMW E30 M3, the white-hot sun beating down on your head, windows wound down. The radio is blasting a new type of pop music that seemingly came out of nowhere. It’s fast, it’s loud, it’s abrasive and unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. It’s electronic music, specifically German electronic music.
You’re driving all over town listening to this new genre but you don’t know anyone else who listens to it so you feel like you are part of some secret group. You’ve never heard any of these songs on the radio before yet suddenly there are dozens of them playing every hour.
It seems like this new genre just came out of nowhere but in reality it was years in the making, with numerous artists experimenting with electronic sounds and new production techniques for decades prior. In fact, electronic music has existed since long before computers even had sound cards. Electronic instruments were built as far back as the 1930’s and 40’s by pioneers such as Robert Moog and Leon Theremin.
Innovators such as Kraftwerk (pictured above) have been producing electronic music since the 60’s but they didn’t come into their own until after they released Autob
With the release of Kraftwerk’s 1978 album The Man-Machine, electronic music began to enter the mainstream. This was very different from the experimental electronic music that had been made before in Germany and other countries.
On their albums, Kraftwerk explored what it meant to be a machine and what it meant to be human. They used machines such as synthesizers, drum machines and vocoders to create this highly synthetic sound. Yet at the same time, they explored the human side of these machines. In many ways, they pioneered the concept of music as a cultural artifact.
Kraftwerk’s music is at once simple and complex. It is simple because it is made up of just a few basic elements—a synthesizer or two, a drum machine, an electric guitar and maybe some vocals. At the same time, it is complex because those elements are combined in such a way that they produce a rich and evocative sound.
The result was music that sounded both futuristic and familiar at the same time; it was like nothing anyone had ever heard before but also like something everyone could relate to.
Their influence can be heard throughout the entire history of electronic music, from New Wave to Techno to EDM.