Electronic Music: The Expansion

Electronic music is a very diverse genre, and can fit nearly every mood. Most people associate electronic music with EDM, clubs, and raves. However, this is only one subgenre of electronic music. This week we will explore the history and origins of the various subgenres of electronic music.

Glass Animals at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara

The first electronic instrument to be widely used was the theremin, which provided a lot of soundtrack material for science-fiction films in the 1950’s. Then, with the increasing accessibility of the computer, programmers were able to create and manipulate sounds that normal instruments could not replicate. In the early 60’s, more instruments were invented and used, including the synthesizer, but electronic music hadn’t yet found its place in mainstream music. Most of it was still wrapped up in the movie soundtrack industry, with the exception of experimental musicians who created art with the newfound technology, but their work was not very popular at the time. It wasn’t until the late 60’s that electronic instruments found their way into mainstream music. Electric pianos and synthesizers were very commonly used by bands such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys, then later Roxy Music and Pink Floyd. The music industry was forever changed after this caught on.

Radiohead at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Without electronic music, one could argue that we wouldn’t have had the 80’s. Some of the biggest, most era-defining artists and bands of the 80’s included Depeche Mode, George Michael, Duran Duran, and Cyndi Lauper. These artists relied heavily on electronic music, and they all helped create the vibrant soundtrack of the 1980’s. Moving on to the 90’s, electronic music was not the leading genre, but it had an important place in R&B and hip hop music. In the 2000’s, house music and EDM grew in popularity, and today, just about everything on the radio features  more artificial instruments than real ones. It’s really interesting how this form of music evolved over time. Of course, every genre has subgenres that take off on their own path, but electronic music as a whole moved in a gradual linear pattern. I can only imagine what it will sound like in the years to come, in the age of self driving cars, and uh, artificial intelligence?

James Blake at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara

Thanks for reading this week’s blog post! Check back next Friday for a new genre, and comment below if you want to suggest one I haven’t talked about yet!

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