Electronic Dance Music History: From the 60’s to 90’


The Evolution of EDM

It all began in Paris and San Francisco. The Parisian school strove to make plain music more elaborate through the “recording of reality,” i.e., sampling the sounds of modern life and composing musical pieces according to the logic of sound-collage. The schools of Cologne and Milan, on the other hand, used the oscillators (magneto phones) to produce and reprocess acoustic and electronic sounds, thus giving rise to real compositions but with a strong theoretical component to it. If Stockhausen reworked pieces of music, Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna experimented with the use of traditional instruments and the tape recorder. Iannis Xenakis, a Romanian-Greek composer who strove to apply mathematical formulas to music and made extensive use of computers, conducted his experiments in recording studios.

Founded by John Cage, the school of San Francisco specialized in the art of tape loop and tape delay, which is an essential component of electroacoustic music. His type of composition was beyond the minimalism inherited from an avant-garde composer like La Monte Young, who was also influenced by Indian music (the raga). These compositional techniques launched by Terry Riley will also be filmed and developed by Steve Reich and Philip Glass during the 1970s. The first synthesizers were designed at the San Francisco school after electronic music began to spread outside academies.

1960-1979: The Electronic Space: Motorways and Electronic Circuits


In this period, electronic music transcended the boundaries of academic experimentation and entered the domain of light music which was until then dominated by pop, folk, and rock. In these twenty years, important results were achieved, but they all had an essentially intrusive function: from psychedelic experiments that allowed the introduction of machine-made music into the rock world, to the creation of a new kind of pop music, which was more impersonal (synth-pop) and danceable (thanks to disco). In the late 1970s, hip-hop and rap music, an exclusively African-American phenomenon which was heavily influenced by funk, was beginning to take first steps in the USill.

Some of the artists who conducted their experiments in the 1950-60s drew inspiration from the minimalism of Terry Riley and Morton Subotnick, who developed their electronic music with the help of the synthesizer. The use of this instrument would later help Klaus Schulze, and the Tangerine dream lay the foundation for the successive evolution of progressive music. Groups like the Beatles and Pink Floyd, as well as artists like Lee Scratch Perry, acknowledged the ever-increasing importance of the recording room in the creation of their musical compositions. However, it was Brian Eno, an English producer/composer, who was able to develop a whole new musical genre. Called “ambient music,” it took into account the process of maturation the recipient/destination) of a musical piece.
Giorgio Moroder

In the 1970s, the use of drum machines and sequencers by Kraftwerk gave electronic music markedly pop connotation, thus helping bring it to the attention of the general public. In the same way, Giorgio Moroder replaced an orchestra with sequencers and synthesizers in funk and R’n’B. c.

Meanwhile, in the depths of gray and urbanized England, the Throbbing Gristle was about to make a fundamental contribution to the birth of industrial music, a genre that initially opposed punk in expressing the discomfort of contemporary society. Meanwhile, the New York Suicide was preparing to make theirs through giving more artistic and theatrical readings. By the way, the latter is often chosen as a subject for assignments in college, and you can get help with those by contacting professional college writing services and having your essay on EDM done by them.

Key artists of the 60s included: Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Schaeffer, Terry Riley, Morton Subotnick, Bruno Maderna. Seventies key artists: Throbbing Gristle, Brian Eno, Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Suicide, Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder.

1980-1989: Pop & Street Art: Electronics as a Form of Dance

In this period electronic music firmly established itself in the pop, hip hop, and rap domains thanks to electro-funk. In this decade, electronic music has gained popularity, and it became quite normal for musicians to use machines instead of musical instruments. The planetary successes of the synth-pop and new wave music have made electronic music a norm and blurred the line between rock and rap. That allowed the appearance of electro-funk, hip hop, and ethno-ambient elaborations. During that period, the techno and house music were making their first steps but were still restricted to discos and clubs.

Thanks to groups like the Human League and the Soft Cell, synth-pop and its more rock-like version, the new wave, emerged, while punk music mixed with new electronic trends gave birth to bands like the Einsturzende Neubauten and DAF (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft).

The wave of new music will make electronic production central, and a song like “Blue Monday” will, in fact, prove the notion that musical complexity is an outdated concept. We are one step away from the techno and house revolution that will flood the halls thanks to the work of Frankie Knuckles in Chicago and Juan Atkins in Detroit.

On the black music front, the seeds thrown in the previous decade began to be collected thanks to electro-funk and groups like the Grandmaster Flash and George Clinton. Later on, the hip hop phenomenon became “contaminated” with white rock bands thanks to the Run DMC.

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