is, unsurprisingly enough
, music made with electronic instruments, such as synthesizers, samplers and drum machines.
What you use the equipment to make... well that is a very varied thing. Synthesizers and samplers and drum machines are very flexible in the range of sounds they can make, and as such, electronic music is very varied.
You can make pretty much standard pop music with it (often called Synth Pop
), you can make epic and uplifting tunes with it (Trance
), you can make the aural equivalent of Mind Rape
with it (see Industrial
) or you can mix it with many, many other styles (Dubstep
, Industrial Metal
Arguably, pure electronic (pop) music can be traced back to Kraftwerk
, who made Synth Pop
music that deliberately exploited its synthetic origins. Kraftwerk was one of, if not the
first act that exclusively
used electronic instruments to generate their output. Electronic music itself dates back much further than the 1970s, though; the theremin was invented ca.1920, the "croix sonore" in 1926, the ondes Martenot in 1928, and all of these were written for by avant-garde classical composers like Nikolai Obukhov, Olivier Messiaen, and Joseph Schillinger. (For an example, see Obukhov's The Third and Last Testament
, composed in 1946.) In addition to writing for physical instruments that were powered by electricity, as early as the 1920s some composers were making use of 'found sounds' generated by radios, sometimes making longer works largely using collage and even going as far as manipulating them directly (see Dziga Vertov's Enthusiasm! The Dombass Symphony
). This technique, reasonably popular among the Italian and Russian Futurists, strongly foreshadowed the later "musique concrete" movement, kicked off by radio engineer Pierre Schaeffer in the late 1940s with works like "Etude aux chemins de fer" (1948), which was created by manipulating the taped sound of a train
The idea of abandoning physical instruments (and prerecorded sounds) altogether and producing compositions completely synthetically was first proposed in 1949, by Werner Meyer-Eppler in his paper Elektronische Klangerzeugung: Elektronische Musik und Synthetische Sprache
. From there, many possibilities of the medium began to be explored and too many developments and trends occurred to be worth describing here. Major figures to watch for in the succeeding years include Edgard Varese (Deserts
, 1954); Karlheinz Stockhausen (too many works to pick one, but see Elektronische Studien I
, 1954); Iannis Xenakis (Concret PH
, 1958; Persepolis
, 1971; created a system to translate drawings of shapes into electronic sounds in the late '70s); and there have probably been thousands
of other interesting composers writing in the same line. Popular music groups like The Beatles and Kraftwerk were directly influenced by Stockhausen, as he continued to be a huge figure in avant-garde music throughout the 1960s and far beyond.