Acid jazz, eurobeat, drumstep, to electro funk and all the way around to brostep: EDM has a name for every type of beat, tempo, or hertz that one could imagine.

Starting with the larger “umbrella” terms for electronic music, there is dubstep, house, techno, moombahton, and several others that have become more popular recently, like trap and drumstep.

Of course, each EDM fanatic will consider their own hierarchy in their own terms, and each definition is completely true. Think about the age-old question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Well, which came first, the subgenres or the genres? Could the variations of each artist’s productions have similar traits, so that they eventually began to call all of them by the name of a greater genre? No need to get too philosophical here, but it’s a thought.

Most popularly, house music has made its way onto commercials, radio stations, and YouTube’s most watched videos. House music was reportedly birthed from disco in Chicago and today it is almost three decades old. Artists like Avicii, Daft Punk, and Swedish House Mafia (obviously many of them hailing from Europe) have taken house music and turned it into an art to be admired. Subgenres of house include acid house, deep house, liquid funk, techno, and many more. Much of the music that can be heard blasting out of club doors would fit into this category.

Techno, a close relative to house music, owes Detroit, Michigan its accreditation. Popping up in the mid-1980s, techno unleashed a realm of electronic music full of high energy vibrations, fast-paced BPMs (anywhere between 120 and 150), and repetitive synths. Subgenres of techno include variations such as acid, ambient, ghettotech, and trance. Interestingly, some DJs have referred to techno as a “technological spirituality”. Maceo Plex, Guy Gerber, and Claude VonStroke are a few of the dudes blazing forward in the techno scene today.

I remember the first time someone ever said the word “dubstep” to me. My friend was all stoked on the 3 gigs of dubstep music he had just downloaded and I pretended to know what it was. Later that evening, when Google-searching the term, I couldn’t find anything to explain what it was. It’s hard to believe that this was only about 4 years ago. Now, when typing the word “dubstep” into your search engine, over 32,000,000 results pop up. Dubstep is known to have grimy, deep drops and a lot of wub. South London, England is the origin for dubstep, appearing in the underground euro-scene in the late 1990s. Due to its place of birth, dubstep was formulated out of 2-step garage, drum & bass, and get this, reggae music from the 1980s. Drumstep is also a popular subgenre of dubstep, as it is the lovechild of dubstep and drum & bass. Today, big names in dubstep include Skrillex, Excision, Zeds Dead, Flux Pavillion, and of course the granddaddy of dub, Bassnectar. Some derivative genres of dubstep include brostep, trap, and future garage. Dubstep is the type of music to get your heart pumping fast and a kink in your neck from all the head-banging.

Trap is the child of hip-hop and electronica, focusing on drops that vibrate your whole body with their low frequency. Trap music didn’t hit the electronic scene until the early 2000s, but today it has become rapidly more popular with artists such as Flosstradamus, What So Not, Baauer (who could forget the ever-popular Harlem Shake?), and RL Grime. What’s special about trap music is that it can be found in many different genres of music past electronica. Having originated in the Southern United States with the hip-hop scene, many drops in hip-hop tracks are considered trappy. Young Jeezy, T.I., and Gucci Mane, were among the godfathers of trap music. In 2012, trap music took a steep upslope into popularity, where trap’s 808 sub-bass kick drums started being heard in many songs across hip-hop and electronic music. Side note: “trap” used to be the slang term for the location where drug deals were made. Hence, the filthy drops and overall feeling of power that defines trap music.

Similar to trap, but more closely related to house music, moombahton is a genre that is animatedly lighting up in the electronica scene. Moombahton was a variation of electro house and reggaeton created in 2009 in Washington D.C., and today contains exotic rhythms, deep drum beats, thick basslines, intense build-ups and moves at a BPM of 108 to 115.

Out of all the above genres, my personal favorite would have to be electro…electro funk, electro soul, disco, boogie, whatever you like to call it. Electro is one of the oldest genres, coming out of the early 1980s all over the world, including Europe, Japan, and the U.S. Artists that are killing it in this genre include Pretty Lights, Griz, Gramatik, and The Floozies, but I can assure you the list doesn’t stop there. These artists use old school samples and analog recordings to bring the old back into the new. Although songs produced by these gangsters cannot perfectly fit into one genre, electro funk has provided a space for growth as well as digression into previous generations of music.  

As each genre dwindles down into its specific subgenres, the main purpose of electronic music is to create individuality through one’s own unique sounds. Bottom line, it doesn’t really matter what genre whatever artist fits into, because each song is a compilation of all music that has ever influenced them. It is interesting to understand when and where each variation of electronic music originated, and the progression of electronic music is staggering. Most of the electronic music we know today was born in the late 1900s - it will be absolutely incredible to see where these creative minds take the game next.

Written By Jaelyn Kohl