A sub-category of EDM, Techno started in Detroit, Michigan in the United States during the mid-80s. Detroit techno, in its original form was almost single-handedly created by Juan Atkins although it was further developed and honed by his school-friends Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, collectively popular as the Belleville Three. Despite its comparatively recent origin, it has spawned several sub-genres in the U.S. and in Europe such as acid techno, happy hardcore, industrial techno, minimal techno, ghetto-techno and intelligent dance music among many others.
To a great extent, techno could be described as an amalgamation of house, funk, soul and electro-disco music. Its development was strongly influenced by electronic and synthpop bands like Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra and Ultravox. However, many experts have also argued that electro-disco played a major role in the creation of techno music. This might very well be true since both disco and techno use the same (4/4) common time drum patterns. Techno usually plays at anywhere between 120-140 beats per minute (bpm) with a strong focus on rhythm instead of significant musical progression. The original Detroit techno has a more marked influence of R&B and funk music. Nowadays though, techno has a dark and gritty feel to it.
Derrick May’s Strings of Life (1987) was a major hit that introduced techno to a broader European audience. Shortly after, English and German DJs experimented and improvised on the original Detroit blueprint leading to considerable divergences and off-shoots including acid techno and Berlin techno. Acid techno, which is still very popular in Europe was pioneered by artists like Richie Hawtin and Spiral Tribe. It used the Roland TB-303 for synth basslines and the TR- 909/808 for percussion. Minimal techno is another sub-genre that has risen to prominence in the recent past with Paul Kalkbrenner’s ‘Sky and Sand’ achieving sales of over 200,000 copies.
Since its introduction in the 1980s, techno music has remained a consistent favourite in clubs and parties. It is very DJ friendly style of music that is usually played as a continuous set. Despite its origins in Detroit, many of the current leading techno musicians stem from Europe and UK. Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, DJ Umek, Adam Beyer Julian Jeweil are some of the most talented and creative artists in this genre. For lovers of classic techno, Spastik by Richie Hawtin and Urban Tropics by Juan Atkins are highly recommended.
Trance is a sub genre of EDM that originated in the Netherlands and Germany during the early 90s’. Although trance is a distinct sub-genre in its own right, it draws heavily from other types of music including techno, pop, house, and even classical music. In fact, this influence of classical music is strikingly obvious in many uplifting trance songs by leading artists like Armin van Buuren and DJ Tiesto.
Because Trance focuses on musical progression and melodies to a much greater extent than techno, songs usually have a lengthy build up to 1 or 2 distinct peaks. Generally speaking, tracks are relatively long, use heavily processed drums and have a progressive structure. A kick-drum is normally used on the downbeat while a open hi-hat is used on the upbeat. Songs are sometimes as low as 120 bpm and frequently go up above 135 bpm. Tracks are normally instrumental though many artists use female vocals supplied by mezzo-soprano singers.
Perhaps the most defining feature of trance is its emotional depth. Trance can manipulate your emotions through its complex melodic structures in a way that no other form of EDM can. This is part of the reason behind why certain sub-types of trance music like darkpsy, psychedelic and Goa trance are closely associated with the use of psychedelic drugs. For the uninitiated, ‘Gamemaster’ by Lost Tribe and ‘For an Angel’ by Paul Van Dyk are all-time favourites in this genre that will surely not disappoint. If you are already accustomed to mainstream trance, then you should consider listening to the heavier sub-types of trance like dark psy that use a much higher BPM (140-150).
Of all kinds of EDM, trance probably has the most numerous and varied sub-genres with many of these sub-types branching off into further off-shoots. Although trance reached the zenith of its popularity at the turn of the century, it still remains one of the most popular genres of electronic music with near constant innovation. The most significant sub-genres of this type of music includes classic, acid, progressive, psychedelic, uplifting and hard trance.
These days, mainstream genres of trance hardly contain any psychedelic elements. At the other end of the spectrum, Goa trance and psytrance embody strong psychedelic themes. Meanwhile, Astrix and Infected Mushroom have pioneered a unique combination of uplifting, energetic trance with strong psychedelic elements. Armin van Buuren, Ace Ventura, Paul van Dyk and Markus Schulz are some of the most talented and creative artists in this genre that are worth trying out..