Electronic Dance Music Evolution

Like all music genres, Electronic Dance Music's history is composed of different types of music, instruments and influences. There are elements of funk, disco, alternative, experimental rock, hip-pop, rap and others. Basically, EDM falls under the catagory of Alternative music (not following mainstream music rules), until now. Justin Beiber, Nicki Minaji, David Guetta, Will.i.am and most pop artists use EDM. But where did it start exactly?

It is hard to define an exact point where the music started.* ;xNLx;For this timeline, I will briefly go over the 1960s**, as there are some influences in there, but the 1970s is when it started to take off just like technology.;xNLx;The two major influences are the instruments (in green) and the "scene" (in orange) in which the music is played.;xNLx;*most of this information came from two major books unless stated within the information.;xNLx;**The dates are not exact but the years are correct.;xNLx;Book 1: Covach, J. What's that sound?, an introduction to rock and its history. 2nd. New York, NY: W W Norton , 2009. Print.;xNLx;Book 2: Kirn, Peter. The Evolution of Electronic Dance Music. Milwaukie, WI: Backbeat, 2011. Print.

1960-01-01 01:29:15


Synthesizers are electronic instruments that is capable of provided a variety of sounds. They can be played through different instruments such as a keyboard and then be transmitted to loud speakers. Many rock artists used synthesizers before the Theremin but it was not until 1970 synthesizers were made available in smaller sizes.

1960-01-01 01:41:30

Time to Dance

During the 1960s, there was a dance craze. There were dances invented such as "The Twist," "The Mashed Potato" and "The Swim." But rock was still the primary music at this time. This means that music was primarily listened to and not danced to.

1966-11-01 00:00:00


In the late 1966s, "Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys reached #1 on the Billboard charts and the UK charts. "Good Vibrations" used an electronic instrument called the Theremin. This instrument creates sound by have the musician move his hand by each antennae. Here is a link for you to watch. Also, the Startrek theme used this instrument as well in 1966.

1970-01-01 01:41:30

Mini Moog

In 1970, Moog, an electronic instrument company, made the Mini Moog which allows the synthesizer to become potable.

1970-02-01 11:28:33

Artist: Sly and the Family Stone

Sly and the Family Stone was a group of black musicians who had a heavy influence on disco and funk. Sly Stone was influential because of his repeating riff in the bass that is heard through out songs, including in funk. His song that I am sure many of you have heard is, "Thank you (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)." It reached number one on The Billboard charts.

1972-01-01 17:30:33

Artist: Tower of Power

Tower of Power was another funk artist that was influenced by Sly and the Family Stone. They also worked with rock artists such as the Rolling Stone and Rod Stewart. Rock with have a strong influence in EDM as well during the New Wave era.

1972-04-18 12:35:50

The makers

If you have ever seen a keyboard, there is a good chance that you are looking a Roland keyboard. Roland is a company of Electronic instruments who create keyboards, synthesizers, electronic drums, digital pianos and organs and other produces. The common machine in Techno and Hip-Hop was the TR-808, which is a drum machine.

1973-01-01 16:16:23

Artist: The Ohio Players

The Ohio Players was another success of Sly's funk techniques. They did not get a major success until their song, "Funky Worm," hit the Billboard charts.

1973-01-01 17:30:33

Artist: Kool and the Gang

Kool and the Gang was another artist that was heavily influenced by Sly and the Family Stone. They will produce hits later in the 1980s that should sound familiar.

1974-01-01 01:06:25

Artist: Kraftwerk

Perhaps the most influential in Electronic Music is Kraftwerk, a german experimental rock group. They are considered as the group who perfected the Electronic Music and became the first fully electronic band/ artist. There song "Autobahn,"* was the song that received a little air play and it was hated by critics. *this song is 22 minutes long. The long song structure is an element of rock music.

1975-01-01 09:18:55

Experimental Rock/New Wave

As Disco was developing and contributing to the dance scene, New Wave, experimental rock and punk hit the scene. There are many artists that are in these genres and if you wish you can click the find out more button on the bottom and it will take you to the website of the book I used for this timeline. The things that are important for new wave and experimental rock and its influence on Electronic dance music is 1- they started around the same time

1977-01-01 01:06:25

Disco: "Saturday Night Fever"

John Travolta. John Travolta. "Saturday Night Fever," is a film that was released in 1977 which stars John Travolta as a macho disco dancer. This film puts disco in the mainstream and the soundtrack brings attention to disco songs. Some songs that I am sure everyone has heard of, "Stayin' Alive," by the Bee Gees.

1977-01-01 02:03:49

Paradise Garage

This is a club in New York City is one of two clubs that helped keep disco alive and start a new genre called Garage House. The major DJ at this club is Larry Levan.

1977-01-01 02:03:49

The Warehouse

This is the other club that helped give rise to EDM. The major Dj at this club was Frankie Knuckles and he is considered as the "Father of Chicago House."

1978-07-01 11:30:24

Artist: Devo

Another band that helped shape the New Wave era is Devo. Devo is an american New Wave artist who reached the UK charts with their rendition of "I Cant get No Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones.

1979-01-01 09:18:55

Artist: Kool and the Gang

Kool and the Gang did not just contribute to funk but their sound smoothed out into disco. Some hits of theirs are "Ladies night" which hit the Billboard Charts in 1979 and, later, "Celebration," in 1980.

1979-01-01 09:18:55

Artist: Gary Numan

Another influential artist in the Electronic instrument element is Gary Numan. Numan is an English musician who used synthesizers through his guitar. He is not classified as an electronic dance musician but he is an experimental rock artist. You can hear elements of electronic music in his song, "Cars," which hit the billboard charts and UK charts in 1979.

1979-07-12 12:35:50

Disco Demolition Night

A chicago disc jockey, Steve Dahl, put together a night where disco records were to be burned in the middle of Comiskey Park. Dahl thought disco was a threat to rock 'n' roll. This is considered as the day disco died. But in actuality, it just went underground and was "repackaged' into EDM. Here is an article from the New York Times.

1980-01-01 02:03:49


From the 1980s to now, Electronic Dance Music rests in the DJ's spinning and the clubs. Since Disco was no longer a big money market, DJs could get records to spin for little money. But the hard part was trying to make each record different. This struggle would give birth to House, Techno and other sub-genres of EDM.

1980-01-01 02:03:49


Turntables became a popular technique for DJs to make their music sound different from the original record. Turntables were used around the 1950s* but they were predominant in the 1980s with DJs. *I could not find when the exact date was of the invention of turntables but it seemed like they were invented around the 1950s.

1980-01-01 12:35:50

The Clubs

Now that Disco is underground, it is only played in clubs and warehouses. The big spots for this music is in Chicago at a club called the Warehouse, New York City at a club called Paradise Garage.

1980-01-01 15:19:51

DJ Techniques

Some techniques that DJs used back then and use today are: 1- The DJ uses two records of the same song and switches between them to prolong the song length. 2- The DJ would calculate the tempos of different records and mix them together without causing a break. 3- Sampling. This is where a DJ will sample part of a song or instrument and play it over and over in a repeating pattern. Some examples are drum sounds or even vocals.

1981-01-01 11:28:33

Artist: Soft Cell

Soft Cell is an english New Wave duo who hit the UK charts in the 1980s. They used synthesizers to give their music an electronic feel to it and were influential in Techno and synthpop. Their most known song is "Tainted Love."

1982-01-01 15:19:51

Artist: Larry Levan

Larry Levan is the creator of Garage house in New York City. A good example of this is "Don't Make Me Wait," by New York Citi Peech Boys.

1983-07-01 11:30:24

Artist: New Order

New Order is an English post-punk/ new wave/ electronic band who used synthesizers and electronic instruments into their songs. New Order is still making albums today but they were influential in the 1980s. Their known song is "Blue Monday." "Electronic music is the next stage on from punk," said Bernard Summer, member of New Order, in the book The Evolution of Electronic Dance Music.

1984-01-01 15:19:51

Artist: Jesse Saunders

Jesse Saunders is another notable figure in the EDM scene. His record, "On and On" is considered as the first recorded House record according to Dance Music Hall of Fame.

1985-01-01 15:19:51

Artist: Juan Atkins

The music in New York and in Chicago are classified as house but in Detroit, the music is different. Remember Kraftwerk? Well here comes their influence. DJs such as Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson took the techniques used in the European dance music and mixed it with the funk of the 1970s. This is the birth of Detroit Techno.

1987-01-01 15:19:51

Artist: Frankie Knuckles

Knuckles is considered to be the "Father of House." He used the 4/4 beat, that most house songs are based off. A song by him is titled, "Your love" and it was released in 1987.

1988-01-01 15:19:51

A new country

This is where EDM crossed the atlantic to London. While in London, new sub-genres emerged.

1988-01-01 15:19:51

Artist: Front 242

Front 242 is a Belgium group that used drum machines in their music. They are credited as the pioneers of a sub genre called Electronic Body Music, which combines elements of synthpunk, industrial rock and EDM.

1988-06-01 15:19:51

Second Summer of Love

As most know, EDM is most known for its rave and club scene atmosphere and drugs. In the United states there was the use of drugs in the club scenes but that grew in the late 80s and early 90s. A genre that emerged out of the second sumer of love was Acid House.

1988-06-01 15:19:51

Acid House: Can You Feel it?

A common phrase that is used in Acid House songs is Can You Feel it? According to the Guardian, Fingers Inc. used the phrase.

1989-01-01 03:37:34

New sub genres

After reaching Europe, EDM transformed into more than just House and Techno. New sub genres started to emerge such as Ambient, DownBeat and Acid Jazz. Between 1998 and 1999, Trance starts to peak. In the 2000s Trance becomes one of the most well known EDM genres.

1990-01-01 15:19:51

Acid House: Orbital

Another song that reached the UK charts was "The Chime," by Orbital, a british Acid House group.

1990-03-19 11:30:24

Artist:Depeche Mode

Formed in 1980, Depeche Mode, whom is still popular today, is an English Electronic Band who used Electronic music during the New Wave era. Like in the introduction, Rock, punk and alternative music had an impact on Electronic music and Depeche Mode is an example of that. They were four musicians, now three, who used keyboards and synthesizers to make their music. Their Album Violate was placed in Q Magazine's 100 Best Albums*. One song on their album is End of Silence. *http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/qlistspage2.html#Dance

1992-01-01 15:19:51

Artist: Aphex Twin

Richard David James, also known as Aphex Twin, is an English electronic musician who is considered as an influential figure in contemporary electronic music. His song "Digeridoo," was credited by The Rolling Stone as foreshadowing drum and bass.

1995-01-01 15:19:51

Back to its roots

In the mid 1990s, EDM started to cross back over the atlantic to its roots. American companies started to invest in the genre and it started to enter the mainstream. But when it entered the mainstream it was known primarily as pop.

1995-08-08 21:08:48

Artist: The Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers is an English electronic music group out of Manchester, England. They were one of the bands that brought EDM to mainstream. They also brought about the new sub-genre Big Beat. Big Beat includes breakbeats and synthesizers. Their album Dig Your Own Whole reached the the UK charts along with many other singles and albums of theirs. One song, which was their first, is "Song to the Siren."

1996-01-01 00:00:00

Ultra Records

Ultra Music Records is a record label that has many of these EDM artists under them. They are the leading record label for EDM, according to their website. Some of the artists that produce under them are David Guetta, Paul Van Dyk, Tiesto, Deadmau5, The Wolfgang Gartner, Benny Benassi and more.

1997-01-01 15:19:51

American pop mainstream

The Chemical Brothers album, "Dig Your Own Hole," placed on the UK charts and U.S. charts. Moby, an american EDM artist, was an important figure in the late 1990s due to his success at taking his music and putting it into commercials and movie soundtracks.

1997-01-17 21:08:48

Artist: Daft Punk

Daft Punk, a French electronic duo that is half robot and half human (they have a robot mask), is one of the leading electronic artists that have helped shape EDM today. They have had more than one single hit the charts and won a Grammy (later) for one of their songs. Their song "All Around the World," gained them world wide success. It is off of the album Homework. (Continued in 2000s)

1997-06-01 00:00:00

Electronic Daisy Festival

The Electronic Daisy Festival is an EDM festival that started off in California. It has now reached to London, Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, Puerto Rico and Orlando.

1997-06-30 21:08:48

Artist: The Prodigy

The Prodigy is another English electronic music group who is much like The Chemical Brothers and made the genre Big Beat. Their album "The Fat of the Lamb," was the album that made mainstream success.

1998-10-20 21:08:48

Artist: Fatboy Slim

Quentin Leo Cook, also known as Fatboy Slim, is an English electronic Musician who helped make EDM mainstream with the help of MTV. He won MTV's Video Music Award for his single "The Rockafeller Skank."

1999-03-12 00:00:00

Ultra Music Festival

The Ultra Music Festival started in 1999 and is hosted in Miami. According to their website, they have about 330,000 attendees at the festival. They just had their most recent festival in march.

1999-05-01 21:08:48

Artist: Moby

Richard Melville Hall, also known as Moby, is credited as helping Electronic Music hit mainstream. All of his songs off his album Play, according to IMDb, was on a movie soundtrack or in a television commercial. Some film scores he has done include Scream (1), Gone in 60 Seconds and Tomorrow Never Dies.

1999-05-01 21:08:48

Artist: Alice Deejay

Alice Deejay was a dutch electronic dance music group who reached #3 on Billboard Charts with their single "Better of Alone."

2002-01-22 00:00:00

Artist: Tiesto

Tijs Michiel Verwest, better known as Tiesto, is a dutch musician. Tiesto is considered a major DJ in the 2000s and has recorded with numerous pop stars. The Rolling stone quote Tiesto as the #1 DJ and Forbes magazine placed him as the highest payed DJ. He makes $22 million.

2003-01-06 00:00:00

Artist: Paul Van Dyk

Matthias paul, better known as Paul Van Dyk, is a German DJ who creates Trance Music. He is a well respected DJ and won a Grammy in 2004 for his album Reflections.

2007-09-18 21:08:48

Artist: David Guetta

I am sure most of you know who David Guetta is but for those who do not, David Guetta is a French House DJ/Producer. Guetta is the fourth highest paid DJ who is paid $13.5 million according to Forbes The Worlds Highest Paid DJs. His first album that reached mainstream success was "Pop Life."

Electronic Dance Music Evolution

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