EDM: A History Lesson of Music’s Hottest Trend

With EDC New York just around the corner, I take a look at where Electric Dance Music started and how it turned into the worldwide sensation it is today.

Electric Daisy Carnival New York will be taking place this weekend at Citi Field in New York City with headliners like Afrojack, Dillon Francis, and Kaskade taking the stage with little flower children running around in neon clothes for the weekend festival. But where did EDM come from? How did it start? And how did it become so popular?

I did my research (so you didn’t have to) to see where music’s latest and greatest trend came from.

Electronic dance music (also known as EDM) is electronic music produced primarily for the purposes of use within a nightclub settings, concerts, and festivals. The music is largely created for use by disc jockeys (DJ) and is produced with the intention of it being heard in an ongoing, continuous DJ set; where the DJ create their own beat/mix, with different parts of songs and synchronizing them all together. EDM can also be referred to as dance music, and Electronic dance music is a mix set of music genres that largely stem from disco music, techno music, house music, and trance music. The music and scene became very popular in the regional nightclub scenes in the 1980s, the warehouse party scene of the late 1980s, and the early underground rave scene of the acid house movement in the late 1980s.

EDM, the music is created by a mix of electronic instruments such as synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers. And the specific genres were generally emphasized by the different mix and unique sounds of those instruments. DJ’s had also incorporated traditional acoustic instruments into their sets as well.

In the 1940s, the first DJs emerged as entertainers for troops overseas. During World War 2, troops needed a form of entertainment to keep them from getting bored and lonely during down time in between the war and fighting. DJs would go to army bases with a turntable, records, and an amplifier in order to perform for troops in large halls, playing big name artists of the time to entertain the troops and keep them up to date with current music. A DJ would be a lot less cheaper and smaller to have perform for these masses instead of having a band come overseas because it was less people and the DJ would be able to play a variety of music rather than having a band come to perform their own work.

In late 1959, artists started recording sessions that centered on sound systems and editing rather than just performing with legit instruments. They focused on using more computerized music and editing. In the early 1960s, electronic instruments entered the music field with the invention of synthesizers. With this invention, musicians were able to start using computerized instruments to add to their music rather than the usual legit instruments such as guitars and pianos.

In the 1970s, synthesized music became very mainstream especially in the disco scene. It gave artists more of a dance vibe and feel that made crowds of people want to get up and dance to the beats that were being played. Musicians started shying away more from basic instruments and focused more on playing computerized instruments that would help create beats and drops that would form more of a dance vibe to their shows.

In 1989 the rave scene developed where promoters came up with the idea of putting on huge outdoor events outside of London where DJs could perform their sets and thousands of people could dance and listen to this upbeat bass drops for days. The early 1990s formed the fade of skratching which helped design for easier for kutting and adding tricks to DJs sets which also allowed beats to be continuous rather than having to worry about lag times between said beats. As time has gone on, DJs have started to perform their sets during competitions to see who has the ability to create the more fluid, upbeat set to maintain consistency between beats as well as keeping the attention and energy of the crowds.

Now that technology has progressed, artists have the ability to kut and put together an entire set straight from their computers and they have the ability to turn and reach a higher demographic audience. From social medias like twitter and Facebook, DJs can reach out to fans and promote their music as well as inform people of their music coming out and when they can see the artist perform at venues and shows. With the invention of SoundCloud, artists have the ability to create a profile and put all of the music and sets right on the website and allows people to listen to these sets from the comfort of their homes and gives the artist the ability to share their work with a larger audience. Instead of people having to wait and see a DJ at a venue, they can hear their music right from this website and listen to these sets wherever they go. With the help of social medias, especially SoundCloud, DJs are able to share their music with more people and not have to worry about not having a contract with a recording company. They can produce all of their music on their own and have it accessible to thousands of people.

Are you planning on checking out EDC New York this weekend?


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Montclair State | New Jersey
05.12.2016

Tommy Pisani

Writer, Foodie, & Kardashian Enthusiast.