—Todd in the Shadows
Electronic Music 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, etc...).
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 the first acts, if not the first, that exclusively used electronic instruments (though not exclusively synthesizers) 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.) The synthesizer itself dates back to 1895 (the Teleharmonium), although modern voltage-controlled synths (along with the name "synthesizer") were first devised by a team at RCA in the 1950s, and didn't enter popular consciousness until Robert Moog left that team to found his own company. 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 Varèse (Deserts, 1954); Karlheinz Stockhausen (too many works to pick one, but see Elektronische Studien I and II, 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.
- Alternative Dance
- Big Beat
- Classical Electronic or Avant Garde Music (experimental electronic music from the 1940s-1960s. Includes early synthesiser works like Wendy Carlos' "Switched-On Bach" and most tape manipulation music such as that of Delia Derbyshire (best known for producing the original Doctor Who theme at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop).
- Dark Wave
- Disco (some songs only, mainly the ones Giorgio Moroder is involved in)
- Drum and Bass (DnB for short, includes jungle)
- Electro (think "Planet Rock" - basically Hip-Hop meets Electronic Music)
- Electronic Dance Music (for an index on all electronic artists and producers with their own pages)
- Harsh Noise
- Harsh Noise Wall
- House Music (no, not that House—although the theme song is by Massive Attack, one of the Trope Codifiers of another genre that was partially influenced by House Music, called Trip-Hop.)
- Industrial (including all of its subgenres; see that page for more details)
- IDM (Intelligent Dance Music)
- Italo Disco (not funky as traditional disco)
- Also the related Hi-NRG and Space Disco genres.
- Minimal Wave (a sub-culture fir DIY Post-Punk and Synth-Pop bands, also known as Minimal Synth)
- Musique Concrete (tape-manipulation-based music that was part of the Avant Garde Music scene in the 40s-60s, mostly; a huge influence on later sample-based music)
- Speedy Techno Remake
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix
- Synthwave (a Retraux throwback to the 80s in every sense of the phrase; also sometimes known as New Italo Disco)
- Hardcore Techno (in spite of the name, often considered a genre separate from Techno proper)
- Trap Music
- UK Garage (differentiated from American Garage, which is a subgenre of House Music)
- Vaporwave: A genre that originated from The Internet that once mainly relied on slowed-down samples of music from The '80s or The '90s, but has grown to take on many different forms since then.
Electronic Music Inspired Tropes
- Cyberpunk Is Techno: For when cyberpunk and its offshoots have a soundtrack comprised of techno.
- Freaky Electronic Music: For when electronic music used to symbolize villainy, like its progenitor Rotten Rock & Roll.