Who invented EDM? Ask an EDM fan.
The first names you’ll hear will probably be Carl Cox, Jeff Mills, or Richie Hawtins.
These names are very familiar and have played an important role in the history of electronic music and its development but were they the first?
Is electronic music new or older than we think?
Where did it come from, When was it invented, and by whom? EDM might be older than you thought.
What is Electronic Dance Music?
Electronic music, most generally known as EDM or Dance music, is a type of music composed with the main purpose of being listened to in clubs, raves or festivals.
This genre appears in the 1980s/1990s by combining elements from Hip Hop and disco. This is how the first sub-genre of electronic music like house, Chicago house, techno, electro and etc. was born.
Nowadays, EDM is one of the most popular genre but when has EDM appeared?
The Birth of Electronic Music
Before we look at the questions of “who invented EDM?”, we need to look at its origins.
The EDM as we know it now comes from several styles of music. Mainly Disco & Hip Hop.
However, EDM is a genre composed of sub-genre like house, techno, electro house and many others. The term and more generally EDM genre is much newer than electronic music (not to be confused with Electronic Dance Music).
The first traces of electronic music appear in the late 19th century, early 20th century with works like electromusical piano by Elisha Grey & Alexander Graham Bell or Theremine by Leven Theremin.
Electronic music was then not broadcast on radio but only dedicated to public shows. The main reason was that electronic instruments were not intended for the general public.
One of the first mentions of electronic music and electronic instruments occurs in 1907 in the book Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music from Ferruccio Busoni.
Development of Electronic Music
During the first half of the 20th century, electronic music was almost exclusively limited to sound experiments.
However, during the second half of the 20th century, because of the development and democratization of technology, electronic music became increasingly accessible.
It is also during this period that the first synthesizers appear such as the Buchia, the Synket or the now legendary Moog.
All innovations are major advances for electronic music from a production and accessibility perspective. But what about the general public point of view?
One of the first times electronic music was used for the general public took place in 1963 for the theme of Doctor Who.
At the end of the 1960s, Wendy (born Walter) Carlos popularized electronic music with two albums: Switched-On-Bach & The Well-Tempered synthesizer.
These works reproduce pieces of baroque music using a Moog synthesizer. Soon after, in the 1970s, because of the emergence of genres such as disco, the first wave of popular electronic music was born.
This genre will later take an important place in the birth of EDM because of the active participation of Giorgio Moroder & Kraftwerk.
When Did EDM Begin?
So, who invented EDM, and when was it invented? Was it invented by Gorgio Moroder or Kraftwerk?
The answer is a little more complex and would be the same thing as wondering who invented the wheel. Indeed, the invention of EDM doesn’t correspond to a specific date.
The birth of EDM came from Disco. Disco music was very popular in the late 1970s. Disco genre was made using drum machines and electronic instruments.
As said previously, we can’t really find who invented EDM. However, in 1977, the first track using only electronic instruments was created. I Feel Love by Donna Summer & Giorgio Moroder.
It was the first of a long line of completely electronic music that will then give birth to a new genre: EDM.
The Rise of Electronic Music Synthpop, Post-Disco and Electro Music of the 1980s.
Synth music, also known as synthpop was created and developed alongside House music and electronic music during the 80s.
This era is also known as the “post-disco” era.
At the same time, this music was getting known and produced in the mainstream music industry in Europe.
The genre developed itself because of the evolution of electronic instruments. New synthesizers, drum machines, and innovations like MIDI played a huge role in the development of EDM.
At the same time, in the late ’80s, new EDM subgenres were starting to emerge.
In Chicago clubs, someone named Frankie Knuckles is starting to play a mix between post-disco and faster kind of music with a touch of soul.
In parallel with this sub-genre. Some people like Derrick May & Kevin Saunderson, two guys from Detroit are playing a faster kind of electronic music with darker and more futuristic elements.
This is the birth of Techno.
The 1990’s: Contribution to Electronic Dance Music
A few years later, in the 90’s electronic sub-genres were exported, for the first time, to Berlin which later became one of the world capitals of electronic music, then in the same years to the United Kingdom.
Europe was also a big part for EDM culture and development.
While House and Techno were growing in the US, some EDM sub-genres such as Gabber, Dub, Trance, Rave & Drum’n’bass were emerging in Europe.
Those sub-genres also saw the birth of EDM legends such as KRAFTWERK, Moby, and Tiësto to name a few.
Groundbreaking Artists that Shaped the Future of EDM
Founded in the 1970s, Kraftwerk is a German electronic music band.
The band plays a very important role in the development of EDM because of its avant-garde and experimental productions.
The group was mixing pop and electronic music which will quickly contribute to the global success of the group. In 1973, at the release of their album Autobahn, the band achieved international success.
Over the years and the release of their various albums, the band became a legend but also an icon of the EDM scene.
This statue even attracts the attention of artists from different backgrounds like David Bowie who wants to collaborate with them.
Even today, Kraftwerk songs are still sampled or remixed.
After learning guitar in the 1970s, Richard Melville Hall, better known as Moby, became passionate about electronic music in the 1980s.
Passionate about aggressive music, it was in 1983 that Moby began recording his first techno music.
A year later, he became a DJ in the state of New York. In a few years, Moby forged a serious reputation. However, over the years, Moby turned little by little towards the electro scene.
In 1990, Moby’s first track came out Time’s up. In 2000, Moby had his first worldwide success with his album Play.
A$AP Rocky, Metallica, The Rolling Stones, and many other music legends will work with Moby on their different projects.
Moby remains a legend of EDM having actively participated in its development and democratization.
Born on January 17, 1969 in Breda, Tiësto quickly became passionate about electronic music.
Very young, at the age of 12, he began to take an interest in music.
Two years later, he decided to devote more time to his passion for electronic music and started to mix in school parties. He quickly began to play in small clubs on weekends.
He started as a new beat and acid house DJ. In 1994, he began to produce his first Hardcore and gabber songs.
In the mid-1990s, he turned to Trance, a genre in which he excels. Being one of the initiators of the Trance movement, Tiesto quickly built a statue of legend leading him to even occur during the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.
True legend and being still an active member of the EDM community at the moment, Tiesto always brings a wind of freshness and innovation within the EDM,
Thanks to their sense of innovation and their determination, these artists have been able to carry the and transform it into a genre of mainstream music that is heard and appreciated by all.
EDM’s Breakthrough Into the Mainstream
As time went by, EDM, which wanted to be an underground genre at the start.
It started to become more and more mainstream. Today, we can frequently hear EDM on the radio.
But how did EDM become a mainstream genre? There is really not a single landmark event that can justify such a change.
This is related to a series of events that occurred in the years 2000/2010. Tiesto’s performance at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, the daft punk Coachella concert in 2019, or the emergence of electro-pop artists like David Guetta, Calvin Harris or Avicii, and many others are an integral part of the history of EDM and its evolution towards a mainstream genre.
EDM as we know it today is the result of a long evolution. Today we find EDM influences in almost all styles of music. From hip hop to metal with the use of synthesizers in sub-genres such as progressive metal or metalcore.
EDM has distinguished itself by its creativity. However, there is one interesting thing to notice. The evolution of EDM is intimately linked to the evolution of technology.
Nowadays, EDM is not just a kind of music, it is also a land of innovation whether musical or technological. Indeed, the main innovations in terms of production techniques were first introduced in electronic music.
EDM has been around for 40 years. it’s an avant-garde genre that wants to shake up codes, bring a unique touch to music and actively contribute to its evolution.
As we have seen, it is very difficult to answer the question “who invented EDM”. The invention of edm is not due to a single person in particular.
It is due to many people in several fields such as technology, music, art. However, all these people have one thing in common, they want to change the world of music and to shake up the codes.
It is impossible to know who invented EDM, but EDM still has a long and beautiful day ahead of it.