What is Techno Music? The Ultimate Guide

JD Rinehart

Updated on:

What is Techno
In this techno wonderland,
We lose ourselves, our feet take command.
A world of energy, a world of light,
We dance together, through the night.

Techno is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in Detroit in the United States in the mid-to-late 1980s.

Either in the clubs or chilling on your own in your bedroom, techno is easy to listen to.

The catchy melody also makes it good radio material-one of the main factors of the growth of any musical genre.

Over the years, it has become one of the most popular and influential genres of music, with a global following and a rich history of innovation and creativity.

In this article, we’ll explore what techno music is, where it came from, and how it has evolved over the years.

What is Techno?

Techno is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in Detroit, Michigan during the mid-to-late 1980s. It is characterized by a repetitive 4/4 beat, synthesized melodies, and a focus on the rhythm and groove of the music. Techno often features futuristic or industrial sounds and has evolved into many sub-genres, including acid techno, minimal techno, and Detroit techno.

Techno can be defined as a genre of electronic music that is generally produced to be used on a continuous DJ set.

That is why techno music is often repetitive. The tempo usually varies between 120 to 150 BPM.

Techno is short for the word technology; the music is often produced by electronic instruments such as synthesizers, sequencers, a drum sampler, or actual instruments that are further processed in a digital audio program.

The difference between techno and other electronic music is that techno has a distinctly futuristic feel to it.

From using robotic and alien-like sounds to the exploration of science-fiction themes, techno artists want to show a modern and futuristic feel as if the music comes from outer space.

Techno music uses little to no vocals. When they do, usually the vocals are repeated over and over and digitally processed so as not to sound like a natural human voice.

Even though some techno musicians have collaborated with pop stars to combine techno music with a more traditional song structure.

For example, we can listen to the collaboration between Daft Punk and The Weeknd. They use electronic techno music, but The Weeknd sings the song normally.

They still add a few electronic voices as adlibs, but the song structure is similar to popular song structures, so the music is not too repetitive.

Techno is a music style born from different combinations of house, electronic, synthpop, disco, house, jazz, and blues.

The fusion between all of these genres and the additional futuristic sound effects give the music its unique characteristic.

Techno music also sounds chill and feels good even when the themes are sometimes dark.

techno dark

With the broad variations of techno, the music becomes a versatile genre that you can listen to both at parties or at home chilling after work.

Techno has a long journey that started with pure techno that was inspired by synthpop.

It slowly developed to more dance-able beats that rose along with the rave culture, then slowed down, and nowadays, it becomes more experimental and fluid, so it’s easily played at festivals along with other styles of electronic music.

What is Techno Short for?

The term techno comes from the word technology. In music, techno means the tracks produced using technology, starting from electric drums, synthesizers, and digital audio processing.

The term also represents the sound of the music that is heavily inspired by futuristic science fiction stories.

It is no wonder why in techno music, we hear a lot of electric sound effects.

Who Invented Techno?

There is confusion about who invented techno. If you are looking for it online, you may end up getting too many different answers to the point that you are not sure who to believe anymore.

The common consensus is that it was initially popularized in the mid-to late 1980s by DJs such as Derrick May, Juan Atkins, and Kevin Saunderson.

The first techno records were created by combining elements of electronic funk with industrial beats.

But the thing about music is that it is never truly original. Just like any other form of art, music developed from one genre to the other.

The birth of a new musical genre is almost always influenced by more than one genre. And it is not a simple process. It takes a lot of time with a lot of alterations too.

A new musical genre is probably created by more people than recorded in media articles.

Where Did Techno Music Start?

Techno music is a popular form of electronic dance music that originated in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States.

How Old is Techno?

When it comes to techno, the majority agree that it all started in Detroit in the early ’80s.

Juan Atkins, an African American artist, is often considered the father of techno.

He experimented with a Korg Synthesizer and a tape deck. He released some of the earliest techno tracks under the names Cybotron and Model 500.

Atkins produced the music with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. The three of them are also known as the Belleville Three. Along with Eddie Fowlkes, Blake Baxter, James Pennington, and many others, they created the first wave of techno from Detroit.

Even so, Atkins acknowledged that he was inspired by Kraftwerk, a German musician who invented synthpop music.

He then combined it with various African American music styles such as hip-hop, funk, and blues.

What Is the Difference Between House and Techno?

The difference should be pretty noticeable for loyal fans, but sometimes people get confused because both kinds of music are in the same EDM genre.

The music continues to evolve, with each artist adding their own characteristics.

Sometimes, this causes a debate because what people think of as techno might not be techno enough for others.

But there is a particular pattern you can recognize to differentiate the two.

Even though there are a lot of similarities, the overall sound has very different characteristics.

techno turntable

Techno leans more towards a dark futuristic sound and includes many special effects that sound modern and futuristic, including distorted voices.

Meanwhile, house music stays in a happy tone and dance-able beat.

To be more technical, techno is faster than house music.

House music is usually around 115 BPM, while techno starts at 125 BPM to 135 BPM and sometimes goes up to 150 BPM.

Due to their characteristics, sounds, and themes, house music also gains more acceptance from the mainstream.

Meanwhile, even when there are a lot of techno musicians who attain success in the industry, the genre itself is not known as widely as house music.

Why do People Like Techno Music?

Today, techno is enjoyed by fans all over the world. Many people like techno because it is a very energetic and upbeat type of music.

Techno can also be quite hypnotic, and many people find it to be very relaxing. The genre is also known for its positive and uplifting message; many techno songs contain lyrics about peace, love, and unity.

Techno is a great genre of music to dance to, and many people find that it helps them to relieve stress and tension.

If you are looking for a fun and exciting way to work out, techno can be a great option. Music can also help you to focus and stay motivated while working on tasks or projects.

Whether you are a fan of techno music or not, there is no denying that the genre has a devoted following. If you are looking for an upbeat and positive form of music to enjoy, techno may be the perfect option for you.

What is a Techno Rave?

A rave is an organized dance party usually featuring performances by DJs playing electronic dance music.

Based on this definition, a techno rave is a dance party that performs mostly techno music. A lot of DJs gained their popularity by playing from one rave to another rave.

techno rave

Usually, the performance shows laser lights, projected visual images, fog machines, and dancers on stage. Some raves are held in private warehouses or nightclubs.

But some raves grow into big festivals with multiple stages and DJs performing different shows.

Some places ban raves due to the association of drug abuse at the parties.

Due to this anti-rave law enforcement, some people hold secret raves at their private properties and invite only a limited number of people.

Different Types of Techno

Like other music genres, the rise of techno music was also followed by its sub-genres birth.

A lot of artists created their own characteristics. They want to stay in their root but want to show people what makes them different.

This made them break a lot of rules, and that’s how sub-genres were born. Also, each country has its own unique sound and characteristics.

techno dj

For example, Belgian techno is known for its riffs, German techno for the noise, British techno with the breakbeats, and Detroit techno for its cerebral depth.

Some of the types of techno are:

1. Minimal Techno

Minimal techno emphasizes the basic and raw sound with just drums, bass lines, and funky grooves.


2. Intelligent Techno

Intelligent techno is called intelligent dance music, and later on, is a post-rave progression.

They bring out the pure techno aesthetic that is more suitable for at-home listening rather than at parties or nightclubs.

3. Free Techno

Free techno is a product of a free-party subculture found by urban ravers and travelers who seize the free-party ideology.

4. Acid Techno

Acid techno is a subgenre that got its name due to its characteristic of an ‘acidic’ squelching sound.

5. Ambient Techno

Ambient techno shows more atmospheric sounds with melodic and rhythmic elements.

6. Dub Techno

Dub techno combines techno with a few aspects of dub music.

7. Hardcore Techno

Hardcore techno has a faster tempo and has more intense kicks, synthesized bass, and an experiment leaning towards industrial dance music.

8. Dark Techno

Dark techno is a subgenre of techno that emerged in the early 1990s. The style is often described as “haunted” or “eerie” and is typically darker and more aggressive than other styles of techno.

Dark techno tracks are typically built around repetitive synthesizer patterns, samples, and drum loops. Vocals are rarely used, and when they are, they are usually distorted or heavily processed. The dark techno sound is often associated with the industrial and gothic scenes.

9. Industrial Techno

Industrial techno incorporates bleak, noisy sound and the aesthetic of early industrial music acts such as the cabaret.

There are also some more sub-genres of techno that are products of fusion between techno and other genres.

They are electroclash, Eurodance, ghettotech, techstep, trance, tech-house, and many more.

What is the Techno Song Played at Football Games?

Techno not only has an influence over EDM lovers but it is also shown lots of love at football games and other sporting events.

For example, the song Kernkraft 400 by Zombie Nation, is often a techno song played at football games to get the crowd hyped up:

What is Business Techno?

If you have heard of the term “business techno,” being thrown around in the EDM space, it’s not a subgenre of techno.

Business techno often refers to a DJ and the type of techno music they play when it is too mainstream and seems almost like it was just made to try to be a radio hit rather than having any creativity.

The problem with the term “business techno,” is that it is completely subjective because a techno artist that you think could be on the “business techno” side, could be seen differently by someone else.

How to Dance to Techno?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as dancing to techno can be a very personal experience. However, there are a few things that you can do to get started.

First, find a space where you can dance without interruption. This could be your living room, bedroom, or even an empty parking lot. Turn on some techno music that you enjoy, and start moving your body however you feel comfortable. There is no wrong way to dance to techno; just let your body move however it wants to.

As you get more comfortable dancing to techno, you may want to experiment with different movements and styles. You can try jumping up and down, spinning around, or even doing cartwheels. Again, there is no wrong way to do this; just let your body move in the way that feels natural to you.

Techno-dancing can be a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to let loose and express yourself. So give it a try, and see how you like it

If you want to check out a funny video that represents the types of ways people dance to Techno music, check out this video by Radical Living:

How to Dress for a Techno Party?

When it comes to techno parties, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for what to wear. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow to ensure that you look your best and stand out from the rest of the crowd. Here are a few tips on how to dress for a techno party:

  1. Start by choosing the right clothing for the occasion. Techno parties are all about being expressive and standing out from the crowd, so choose clothing that lets you do just that. Bright colors, bold patterns, and unusual textures are all great choices for a techno party.
  2. Make sure your clothes are comfortable. You’ll be dancing all night long at a techno party, so you need to make sure your clothing is comfortable enough to move in. Choose items that are loose and breathable to avoid getting too hot on the dance floor.
  3. Pay attention to the details. When it comes to dressing for a techno party, the little details can make all the difference. Make sure your clothes are well-fitting and that any accessories you wear complement your overall look.
  4. Be yourself. The most important thing to remember when dressing for a techno party is to be true to yourself. Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident, and you’ll be sure to enjoy the party to the fullest.

Also, we recommend checking out our what to wear to a festival if it is a bigger techno party that seems more like a small festival.

Additional Resources

Check out the additional resources we have on Techno Music:

Frequently Asked Questions

What defines techno?

Techno is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in Detroit in the United States in the mid-to-late 1980s. It is characterized by its repetitive beat, synthesized melodies, and use of technology and production techniques to create a futuristic and often industrial sound.

How can you tell if a song is techno?

You can often tell if a song is techno by its driving beat, which typically features a repetitive 4/4 rhythm with a heavy bass drum sound. Techno also often includes synthesized melodies and sounds, and a futuristic or industrial aesthetic.

Final Remarks

Techno is a genre of music that is always developing. With more artists emerging and with broader listeners, the genre becomes more fluid and often combined with different music styles.

Techno is probably not as popular as house music, but a significant portion of society enjoys listening to it.

This is demonstrated by so many techno artists who gained mainstream acceptance, such as Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, and many more.

The genre has its own segment of listeners and keeps developing along with new artists who are experimenting in the techno genre.