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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stylistic origins electronic dance music
dub, electro, musique concrète, industrial,
Cultural origins Late 1970s to 1980s Europe[citation needed]
Typical instruments Synthesizer - Drum machine - Sequencer - Keyboard - Sampler (traditional instrumentation such as bass, drums often featured more regularly than other electronic genres)
Mainstream popularity Large since mid-1990s
Big beat - Bitpop - Chip - Downtempo - Glitch - IDM - Nu jazz - Trip hop
(complete list)
Fusion genres
DubtronicaFolktronicaFunktronicaLivetronicaPost-rock - Eurodisco
Other topics
Electronic musical instrument - Computer music - Record labels

Electronica includes a wide range of contemporary electronic music designed for a wide range of uses, including foreground listening, some forms of dancing, and background music for other activities; however, unlike electronic dance music, it is not specifically made for dancing.[1][2] The term was first used in the United States in the early 1990s with regards to post-rave global-influenced electronic dance music.[citation needed] Genres such as techno, drum and bass, downtempo, and ambient are among those encompassed by the umbrella term, entering the American mainstream from "alternative" or "underground" venues during the late 1990s.[2][3] Prior to the adoption of electronica for this purpose, terms such as electronic listening music, and intelligent dance music (IDM) were used.[citation needed]

Allmusic categorises electronica as a top-level genre on their main page, where they state that electronica includes danceable grooves to music for headphones and chillout areas.[4]

Electronica has grown to influence mainstream crossover recordings. Electronic sounds began to form the basis of a wide array of popular music in the late 1970s, and became key to the mainstream pop and rock sounds of the 1980s. Since the adoption of "electronica" in the 1990s to describe more underground music with an electronic aesthetic, elements of modern electronica have been adopted by many popular artists in mainstream music.[5][6]


A wave of diverse acts

Electronica was made possible by advancements in music technology, especially electronic musical instruments, synthesizers, music sequencers, drum machines, and digital audio workstations[citation needed]. Early forms of electronic music required large amounts of complex equipment and multiple operators for live performances, and multiple engineers to record the music at high quality.[citation needed] As the technology developed, it became possible for individuals or smaller groups to produce electronic songs and recordings in smaller studios, even in project studios. At the same time, computers facilitated the use of music "samples" and "loops" as construction kits for sonic compositions. [7] This led to a period of creative experimentation and the development of new forms, some of which became known as electronica. [5][8]

In the mid-1990s, electronica began to be used by MTV and major record labels to describe mainstream electronic dance music made by such artists as Orbital (who had previously been described as ambient) and The Prodigy.[citation needed] It is currently used to describe a wide variety of musical acts and styles, linked by a penchant for overtly electronic production; [9] a range which includes more popular acts such as Björk, Goldfrapp and IDM artists such as Autechre, and Aphex Twin to dub-oriented downtempo, downbeat, and trip-hop. Madonna and Björk are said to be responsible for electronica's thrust into mainstream culture, with their albums Ray of Light (Madonna),[6] Post and Homogenic (Björk). Electronica artists that would later become commercially successful began to record in this early 1990s period, before the term had come into common usage, including for example Fatboy Slim, Fœtus, Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method, Moby, Underworld and Faithless. [10] A focus on "songs", a fusion of styles and a combination of traditional and electronic instruments often sets apart musicians working in electronic-styles over more straight-ahead styles of house, techno and trance.[citation needed] Electronica composers often create alternate versions of their compositions, known as "remixes"; this practice also occurs in related musical forms such as ambient, jungle, and electronic dance music.[11] Wide ranges of influences, both sonic and compositional, are combined in electronica recordings.[12]

The more abstract Autechre and Aphex Twin around this time were releasing early records in the "intelligent techno" or so-called intelligent dance music (IDM) style, while other Bristol-based musicians such as Tricky, Leftfield, Massive Attack and Portishead were experimenting with the fusion of electronic textures with hip-hop, R&B rhythms to form what became known as trip-hop. Later extensions to the trip hop aesthetic around 1997 came from the highly influential Vienna-based duo of Kruder & Dorfmeister, whose blunted, dubbed-out, slowed beats became the blueprint for the new style of downtempo. Roni Size, Goldie and Omni Trio commanded attention in the UK as exemplars of the drum and bass genre.[citation needed]

It could be noted that older bands such as New Order and Depeche Mode had built on the new wave music of the 1980s and added more dance and electronic instrumentation and alternative rock influences to become early pioneers of "electronica" music. These two groups are very commonly cited as being hugely influential to the first generations of underground and later, alternative electronica artists.[citation needed]

Global patterns of popularity

By the late 1990s, artists like Moby had become internationally famous, releasing albums and performing regularly in major venues. In the United States and other countries like Australia, electronica (and the other attendant dance music genres) remained popular, although largely underground, while in Europe it had become one of the most dominant forms of popular music.[citation needed]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Electronica's maturing sound embraced multi-cultural influences both through the increasing commercial availability of audio sample libraries of musical instruments from around the globe, as well as cross-pollination with DJs, performers and recording artists from many nations.[citation needed] New York City became one center of experimentation and growth for the electronica sound, with DJs and music producers from areas as diverse as Southeast Asia and Brazil brought their creative work to the nightclubs of that city. [13] [14]

The Norwegian dance duo Röyksopp reached unexpected stardom in 2001 when its debut album Melody AM became an international bestseller. By 2002 the style had a harder edge and in the UK tracks like “Loneliness” by Tomcraft hit number One and the following year an electro dance scene emerged in the UK. The release of albums like “New Wave Electro” on Orange Sync Records and Electrotech Ministry of Sound introduced this style to the clubs with post punk beats, mono Synth breaks which became the formula for the current electro dance scene in the UK.[citation needed]

Effect on mainstream popular music

Around the mid-1990s, with the success of the big beat-sound exemplified by The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy in the UK, and spurred by the attention from mainstream artists, including Madonna in her collaboration with William Orbit on Ray of Light,[6] music of this period began to be produced with a higher budget, increased technical quality, and with more layers than most other forms of dance music, since it was backed by major record labels and MTV as the "next big thing".[15]

According to a 1997 Billboard article, "[t]he union of the club community and independent labels" provided the experimental and trend-setting environment in which electronica acts developed and eventually reached the mainstream. It cites American labels such as Astralwerks (The Future Sound of London, Fluke), Moonshine (DJ Keoki), Sims, and City of Angels (The Crystal Method) for playing a significant role in discovering and marketing artists who became popularized in the electronica scene.[2]

The adoption of elements of electronica by several of the world's most popular rock bands was also seen beginning in the mid 1990s, for example U2's Achtung Baby (1991), Zooropa (1993) and Pop (1997) albums, Radiohead's OK Computer (1997), R.E.M.'s Up (1998), The Smashing Pumpkins' Adore (1998), Blur's 13 (1999) and Oasis's Standing on the Shoulder of Giants (2000) albums.[citation needed] Several of these albums were produced with electronic dance producers, such as William Orbit who produced both Madonna's Ray of Light. and Blur's 13.[citation needed] Radiohead's 2000 follow-up to OK Computer, Kid A, found one of the most polarised critical receptions for an adoption of electronic sounds by a rock group, but the album also received wide acclaim, and the band cited their debts to a large number of electronic musicians, such as Autechre and Boards of Canada, in a recording which reached #1 on the US album charts. The word "electronica" was commonly applied to such releases despite large differences in style.[citation needed] Indeed, by the late 1990s, the word was mostly used by rock fans to describe rock and pop artists' adoption of electronic music textures (such as samples, synthesizers and drum machines) with which they were otherwise unfamiliar, as well as to label a few dance-oriented acts that achieved popularity.[citation needed] This was particularly true in the US where the electronic dance subculture was much less prominent.[citation needed]

In the early 2000s, electronica-inspired post punk experienced a revival, with rock bands such as Interpol and The Killers specifically drawing on the 1980s sound of New Order and The Cure. Russian duet t.A.T.u. use electronica styles extensively, and fuse it with pop styles to form an edgy electronica style.[citation needed]

With newly prominent music styles such as reggaeton, and subgenres such as electroclash, and favela funk, electronic music styles in the current decade are seen to permeate nearly all genres of the mainstream and indie landscape such that a distinct "electronica" genre of pop music is rarely noted. However, the word continues to be more common in the U.S. music industry for synthesized, techno-inspired pop music, as specific genres such as drum and bass and IDM never achieved mainstream attention.[citation needed]

Hip hop fusion

Hip hop DJs and producers had been mining electronic sounds to create beats since Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash pioneered the use of drum machines and synthesizers in the early 1980s, and the hip hop genre shared with other forms of electronic music an emphasis on sampling. Beginning with the success of Dr. Dre and G-funk rap in the mid 1990s, many hip hop producers began turning to a more synthesized sound, resulting in the rise of "superproducers" such as The Neptunes, who cultivated a science fiction image with sleek, overtly electronic beats, and Timbaland, who did likewise and also was known for creative sampling, rising to fame for his work with Aaliyah and Missy Elliott and producing a variety of pop and R&B records for artists such as Justin Timberlake. Timberlake's 2006 hit songs "SexyBack" and "My Love", both produced by Timbaland, were particularly notable for their electronic aesthetic, while The Neptunes worked with a range of acts from Britney Spears to Jay-Z.

A variety of other hip hop performers used electronica-influenced sounds as hooks in their songs. Outkast, a popular and acclaimed hip hop duo, adopted sounds in their 2003 hit single "Hey Ya" and member/producer Andre Benjamin praised the music of Squarepusher. In 2007 Kanye West, initially known for more natural sounding hip hop productions influenced by classic R&B music, released his third album Graduation, which featured some songs with a sharp electronic aesthetic, a sound which greatly expanded on West's latest album, where he emphasized synthesizer and vocal manipulations prominently and cited major influences from 1980s synth pop music, as well as from T-Pain, a hip-hop performer known for manipulating his voice by using the electronic program Autotune. However, West's 2007 single "Stronger" used a prominent sample from a song by the French dance-oriented electronic act Daft Punk, whose work in the 1990s and early 2000s was also becoming highly sampled and influential on the musical aesthetic of acts in other genres such as indie rock and indie dance.

Post-Hardcore Fusion

Many Post-Hardcore acts such as Attack Attack!, I Set My Friends On Fire, Enter Shikari, I See Stars, Sky Eats Airplane and others infuse electronic beats and sounds in their music.

TV Influence

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, electronica music was increasingly used as background scores for television advertisements, initially for automobiles. It was also used for various videogames—specifically Wipeout: a sci-fi combat hovercraft racer for which the soundtrack was composed of many popular and highly-appropriate electronica tracks that helped create more interest in this type of music[16] -- and later for other technological and business products such as computers and financial services.

See also

Further reading

  • Cummins, James. 2008. Ambrosia: About a Culture - An Investigation of Electronica Music and Party Culture. Toronto, ON: Clark-Nova Books. ISBN 978-0-978489-21-2


  1. ^ "Electronica is a broad term used to describe the emergence of electronic music that is geared for listening instead of strictly for dancing." The Techno Primer: The Essential Reference for Loop-Based Music Styles, By Tony Verderosa, page 28, Hal Leonard Music/Songbooks ,2002, ISBN 0634017888
  2. ^ a b c Flick, Larry (May 24, 1997), "Dancing to the beat of an indie drum", Billboard 109 (21): 70–71, ISSN 0006-2510 
  3. ^ "The glitch genre arrived on the back of the electronica movement, an umbrella term for alternative, largely dance-based electronic music (including house, techno, electro, drum'n'bass, ambient) that has come into vogue in the past five years. Most of the work in this area is released on labels peripherally associated with the dance music market, and is therefore removed from the contexts of academic consideration and acceptability that it might otherwise earn. Still, in spite of this odd pairing of fashion and art music, the composers of glitch often draw their inspiration from the masters of 20th century music who they feel best describe its lineage." THE AESTHETICS OF FAILURE: 'Post-Digital' Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music, Kim Cascone, Computer Music Journal 24:4 Winter 2002 (MIT Press)
  4. ^ "'Reaching back to grab the grooves of '70s disco/funk and the gadgets of electronic composition, Electronica soon became a whole new entity in and of itself, spinning off new sounds and subgenres with no end in sight two decades down the pike. Its beginnings came in the post-disco environment of Chicago/New York and Detroit, the cities who spawned house and techno (respectively) during the 1980s. Later that decade, club-goers in Britain latched onto the fusion of mechanical and sensual, and returned the favor to hungry Americans with new styles like jungle/drum'n'bass and trip-hop. Though most all early electronica was danceable, by the beginning of the '90s, producers were also making music for the headphones and chill-out areas as well, resulting in dozens of stylistic fusions like ambient-house, experimental techno, tech-house, electro-techno, etc. Typical for the many styles gathered under the umbrella was a focus on danceable grooves, very loose song structure (if any), and, in many producers, a relentless desire to find a new sound no matter how tepid the results." Electronica Genre at Allmusic
  5. ^ a b "Electronically produced music is part of the mainstream of popular culture. Musical concepts that were once considered radical - the use of environmental sounds, ambient music, turntable music, digital sampling, computer music, the electronic modification of acoustic sounds, and music made from fragments of speech-have now been subsumed by many kinds of popular music. Record store genres including new age, rap, hip-hop, electronica, techno, jazz, and popular song all rely heavily on production values and techniques that originated with classic electronic music." Page 1, Electronic and Experimental Music: Pioneers in Technology and Composition, Thomas B. Holmes, Routledge Music/Songbooks, 2002, ISBN 0415936438
  6. ^ a b c "Billboard: Madonna Hung Out on the Radio". Billboard (VNU Media). July 2006. 
  7. ^ "This loop slicing technique is common to the electronica genre and allows a live drum feel with added flexibility and variation." Page 380, DirectX Audio Exposed: Interactive Audio Development, Todd Fay, Wordware Publishing, 2003, ISBN 1556222882
  8. ^ "Electronica and punk have a definite similarity: They both totally prescribe to a DIY aesthetic. We both tried to work within the constructs of the traditional music business, but the system didn't get us - so we found a way to do it for ourselves, before it became affordable.", quote from artist BT, page 45, Wired: Musicians' Home Studios : Tools & Techniques of the Musical Mavericks, Megan Perry, Backbeat Books Music/Songbooks 2004, ISBN 0879307943
  9. ^ "Electronica lives and dies by its grooves, fat synthesizer patches, and fliter sweeps.". Page 376, DirectX Audio Exposed: Interactive Audio Development, Todd Fay, Wordware Publishing, 2003, ISBN 1556222882
  10. ^ "Crystal Method...grew from an obscure club-culture duo to one of the most recognizable acts in electronica, ...", page 90, Wired: Musicians' Home Studios : Tools & Techniques of the Musical Mavericks, Megan Perry, Backbeat Books Music/Songbooks 2004, ISBN 0879307943
  11. ^ "For example, composers often render more than one version of their own compositions. This practice is not unique to the mod scene, of course, and occurs commonly in dance club music and related forms (such as ambient, jungle, etc.—all broadly designated 'electronica')." Page 48, Music and Technoculture, Rene T. A. Lysloff, Tandem Library Books, 2003, ISBN 0613912500
  12. ^ Pages 233 & 242, Popular Music in France from Chanson to Techno: Culture, Identity and Society , By Steve Cannon, Hugh Dauncey, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. 2003, ISBN 0754608492
  13. ^ "In 2000 [Brazilian vocalist Bebel] Gilberto capitalized on New York's growing fixation with cocktail lounge ambient music, an offshoot of the dance club scene that focused on drum and bass remixes with Braziian sources. ...Collaborating with club music maestros like Suba and Thievery Corporation, Gilberto thrust herself into the leading edge of the emerging Brazilian electronica movement. On her immensely popular Tanto Tempo (2000)..." Page 234, The Latin Beat: The Rhythms and Roots of Latin Music from Bossa Nova to Salsa and Beyond, Ed Morales, Da Capo Press, 2003, ISBN 0306810182
  14. ^ "founded in 1997,...under the slogan 'Musical Insurgency Across All Borders', for six years [Manhattan nightclub] Mutiny was an international hub of the south Asian electronica music scene. Bringing together artists from different parts of the south Asia diaspora, the club was host to a roster of British Asian musicians and DJs..." Page 165, Youth Media , Bill Osgerby, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0415238072
  15. ^ "Electronica reached new heights within the culture of rave and techno music in the 1990s." Page 185, Music and Technoculture, Rene T. A. Lysloff, Tandem Library Books, 2003, ISBN 0613912500
  16. ^ The Changing Shape of the Culture Industry; or, How Did Electronica Music Get into Television Commercials?, Timothy D. Taylor, University of California, Los Angeles, Television & New Media, Vol. 8, No. 3, 235-258 (2007)

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