What Is EDM Music? With 7 Top Examples & History
If you are a music enthusiast, you must have come across the term EDM Music. Or, perhaps, you have overheard it in the nightclub, on the radio, or even at your mom's 55th birthday party. But, what exactly is EDM music?
If you are an upcoming artist, a deejay, or a producer and want to engage in EDM music, we will guide you on everything you need to know about EDM music. Let's keep rolling.
What Is EDM Music?
Electronic Dance Music, or EDM music definition, is any music produced electronically using digital and analog equipment and is meant to be danced to.
In other words, EDM is a general term for a broad range of music genres meant to be danced to in raves, festivals, and nightclubs. Examples of music subgenres that make up the EDM include House, electro house, dub, trap, glitch-hop, techno, trance, drum, bass, etc.
EDM music features a perfect blend of instrumentals and sounds such as drum machines, synthesizers, recordings, and processed samples that account for the precise, loud, and full sounds in most of its subgenres.
In most cases, the EDM producers present the music live in clubs and festivals. Also, the music is used by Disk Jockeys (D.J.) to create a seamless selection of music tracks called a D.J. mix for playing in clubs and other gatherings.
EDM Music Characteristics
If you are an upcoming artist and are interested in EDM music, you should ensure that your composition has the following features to qualify as an EDM music sub-genre.
Any EDM music subgenre should be free form music, not following any specific pattern or code. This makes the song exciting and dynamic. A unique and well-composed song will also attract more audiences due to its originality and message.
Like discos, krautrock, and the other EDM predecessors, your composition should at least have the four-beat bass drum to trigger the ‘head-nodding effect.'
High Hat Kicks
The high hat drum kicks add texture to the genre and create the ‘boom-chick, boom-chick' effect that gives listeners the drive to listen to your song to the last word.
Typically, any EDM sub-genre should feature three basic elements: high-hat drum kicks, four-beat kick drum, and clap sounds. The high hat kicks and claps form the downbeat and signal the listeners when the four-beat bass drums are about to start.
Like other music elements, a melody captivates your listeners to listen to the song to the last beat.
7 Examples of EDM Music
To clarify EDM music's confusion, we shall discuss the top 7 EDM subgenres from top artists in 2021. You can also click on the navigation links to listen to the different elements of the composition.
Language by Porter
Porter released her Language song in April 2012. According to most reviewers, the song was meant to encourage people, especially artists struggling with life challenges.
In her video, Porter features a beautiful girl trailed by wolf-like creatures, and she escapes the danger by diving into a body of water. However, as the girl tries to swim out of the water body, she falls into a lengthy waterfall.
Luckily, the girl is rescued by an enormous semi-transparent being when she is about to make a fatal thud. And, the unexpected savior befriends and comforts her. Later, the girl can stand the wolves alone when she sees them attacking her new friend.
The video alone shows that people need to do little to overcome their challenges (The Waves Of Space And Time). This could take making new friends, overcoming your fears, adopting different strategies, or other positive steps.
Looking at elements of the song, the piano introduces a melody after 30 seconds. Towards 2 minutes, all the other sounds in the song become clear and then drop quickly.
In a nutshell, the sounds complete what is happening in the scene. The song makes a great example of what an EDM song is supposed to sound like.
Get Your Wish, Porter Robinson
This is another EDM genre by Porter Robinson. In a Twitter post, porter claims that the song ”Get Your Wish” was about finding a reason to keep moving forward, even if not for your benefit.
According to his post, he had failed in the music industry for three years, which was crushing enough for him to give up. But she had to get up and write about the meaning of her life. This is well explained in the lyrics, “…., get up and move ahead.”
In the lyrics, ”if glory makes you ….., why are you so broken up?' ‘ Porter also advises that achieving so much fame is not the answer for everything. The chorus also includes a series of questions that emphasize how getting so much fame can be so unrewarding in life.
The entire composition is ear-catching, with reminiscent instrumentals and synthesizers. For instance, if you are a keen listener, you can hear great bass lines with strong but optimal drops.
Besides, the ”do not give up message,” Porter warns against selfish aspirations as they don't take one anywhere after all. Enough explained — hit the song's link and get its juices flowing.
Fly While You Are Still Free, Matzo
Looking at the song's topic, perhaps Matzo wanted to encourage people, especially artists like you, to utilize every opportunity on their way.
According to the lyrics, ”fly while you are still free, like a wind…, fly way out in the night, ….I hear your sweet song”, MatZo encourages upcoming artists to press on, no matter the obstacles on the way, and they will make it at last.
The song applies not only to artists but also to people pursuing their goals in life.
If you are a keen listener, the instruments and sounds are well blended to give the song a dynamic feel. For instance, at the song's climax, you can detect the repetitive flare-up of notes before every drop, which is introduced by some intense but white noise and drum fill.
Combined with the vocals, the instrumentals and sounds give you the power and confidence to conquer obstacles in different life contexts.
The Trip By San Holo
The trip song by San Holo would make you sway, waiting for something big, but only leave you smiling at its end. In the beginning, San Holo invites you to a trip and then plays beats with no lyrics for the rest of the song. It is still unclear what the artist meant in his song.
Perhaps, he wanted to introduce the new artists' hits of catchy drum sounds and instrumentals. Indeed, the trip song is highly rated for its unmatched mix of percussions.
Immediately after the attention-grabbing introduction, Sanholo converts his song into a pure breakbeat. He then converts the breakbeats into synthetic orchestra at 1:37th minute point to create a sonic landscape.
You can detect every percussion flare-ups and drop as the players try to get their audience stuck on the dance floor.
Midnight City by M83
The Midnight Song by M83 is inspirational, cinematic, and broad. It was ranked the best track of 2011 by Pitchfork. It also appeared in the top 20 best songs of 2010.
The song's video is reflective of horrible happenings that are suspected to happen late in the night. If you look at the video, you can see the telekinetic beings combining their power to cause the sunset, among other happenings.
It brings about the real meaning of the lyrical phrase, ‘..at night the city grows.'
To mention a little about the video, you see telekinetic beings that escape from a federal facility and start testing their powers in a rustic factory. According to M83, the video was an accolade to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Akira, and Village Of The Damned.
The song's meaning aside, the vocals and percussions have their take on the quality of the music too. If you are a keen listener, you can note how the song's sound grows in every chorus, making the song an essential listen when driving back home on a late night.
This is not forgetting the song's perfect blend of synthesizers, drums, and other instrumentals, that work together to make the song worth your time.
With You Friends (Long Drive) By Skrillex
By listening to the ‘With You Friends' song, you will be amazed by the combination of chopped vocals and percussion effects that make up the song. The song starts with unique vocal chops and percussion effects featured in the rest of the album.
He then mixes the above effects with a side-chained bass to produce a sound worth the evangelism of Redditors.
The song's blend of his unique love message, quality instrumentals, and sounds makes the song a perfect example of EDM music any upcoming artist might be looking for.
Tracing Steps By Mat Zo
The final example on our list is the tracing steps song by Matzo. In the song, Matzo communicates his comeback to someone, perhaps, a lover or any other person special to him.
His Tracing Steps composition is one of the best in the market, with a blend of unique reverb and dance, among other instrumentals and sounds.
5 Top EDM Musicians
The world has plenty of EDM artists. Though their music impacts listeners differently, some EDM artistic works would do well than others. That's why you can find an artist who has more followers and subscribers than others specializing in the same genre.
That said, we have carefully researched and discussed the top five EDM artists you should be aware of.
Christopher Comstock (Marshmello)
Professionally known as Marshmello, Christopher Comstock is an American EDM artist and a D.J. He is popular for producing songs like Silence, Happier, Friends, Alone, and Wolves. His style of music includes bass-heavy, synth, and groove-oriented electronic dance music.
Marshmellow wears a custom-made mascot, which looks like a Marshmellow to hide his identity in music videos and public presentations.
Though Marshmello has been popular all through, his popularity grew,even more, when he won the best electronic artist in MTV Europe Music Awards, 2021.
Sonny John Moore (Skrillex)
Sonny John Moore, also known as Skrillex, is an American D.J., singer, musician, songwriter, and record producer. Though the artist had been producing since 2000, his first commercial successes were the Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, 2010, and the Monsters and Sprites,2011.
Skrillex has won 8 Grammy Awards, ranking himself as one of the top EDM music artists in the industry.
David Guetta is a French songwriter, a DJ, and a record producer. His popularity grew in 2009 when he released the album by the name ‘One Love.'
Guetta's popular album, one love, comprised viral tracks like ‘Gettin' Over You,' ‘When Love Takes Over' and the ‘Sexy Bitch,' which secured the top ranks in the U.K.
Guetta's other popular tracks include ‘Without You,' ‘Turn Me On,' ‘Little Bad Girl,' ‘Titanium,' and ‘Where Them Girls At.'
In 2009, Guetta occupied the third position in the D.J. Magazine, which ranked the top 100 DJs. He also ranked the topmost in the DJ Mag's Poll.
If you want to understand the real Alan Walker, enter the keyword ‘Faded' on your Google page and tap search. The name Alan Walker would dominate the first page of the search engine result pages (SERPs), under his 2015 track, ‘Faded,' which has won over 2.5 billion views on YouTube.
The song (Faded) also received certifications in the U.K., U.S., and some other countries. The certifications saw the rise of walker into the team of the top EDM artists.
Besides ‘Faded,' walker has produced other viral songs including, ‘Alone' (2016), ‘Darkside' (2017), ‘‘Sing Me To Sleep' (2016), ‘Sing Me To Sleep' (2016), ‘), ‘Diamond Heart' (2018), and other featured tracks.
The mix magazine refers Tiesto as the greatest D.J. of all time. Also, popular EDM artists like Martin Garrix admit that Tiesto inspired them to join the world of EDM Music.
The most popular albums by Tiesto include ‘Elements Of Life' (2007), ‘A Town Called Paradise' (2014), ‘In My Memory' (2001), ‘Kaleidoscope' (2009), and ‘Just Be' (2004). Tiesto is also popular for his five D.J. Mixes for club life which hit for six consecutive years.
In 2013, the fanatics of D.J. magazine voted Tiesto as the best D.J. for the last two decades. This is not forgetting his 40 International Awards, including the Golden Harp (2017) and Grammy Award (2015).
The History of EDM Music
Electronic dance music (EDM) started in the 1960s when bands like silver Apple began to produce electronic music for dance only.
In the 1970s, EDM music started to gain popularity. Thanks to Giovanni Giorgio Moroder, who is often referred to as the father of disco and electronic music. Giorgio Moroder is a renowned Italian producer, performer, songwriter, and D.J.
He was a key player in Donna Summer's biggest hits like ‘I Feel Love,' ‘Love You Baby,' and ‘Hot Stuff' singles. And, in 1997, the pair won the Grammy Award for the best dance recording 1997.
In this period, synth-pop and disco were the only EDM genres that could draw crowds to the Dance floor. More specifically, the artists could allure the crowds with a blend of electronic instruments and repetitive drum beats to synthesize hypnotic rhythms that accompanied vocals.
The other songs that popularized EDM during this era besides the Summer's were ‘rock your baby' by George McCrae and Art Decade' by David Bowie.
Synth-pop became more popular in the 1980s and was later followed by post-disco and house electro-music. The period saw major technological advancements like the Roland TR-808 and MIDI, which took electronic dance music to another level.
Examples of house records that popularized EDM during the period include, On and On by Jesse Saunders:
And Take On Me by A-ha:
At the beginning of the 1990s, EDM had started to get momentum. Indeed the period is referred to as the start of the powerful era of EDM, with subgenres like house music, dub, techno music, hardcore rave, trance, and drum and bass.
Also, the era saw great development in the Acid House in Germany and the U.K. Examples of tracks for the period include ‘In The Heat Of The Night' and ‘Lack Of Love.'
Since 2000, EDM music has attracted a good number of top artists like David Guetta, Tiesto, and Daft Punk, who have influenced its growth to where it is today. The increase in the number of artists saw the introduction of other subgenres like the Dubstep.
Thanks to artists like Nero, Skrillex, and other EDM artists.
EDM music boasts of more than 50 subgenres at the time of this writing, including House Music, Techno Music, Trance, Dubstep, Trap Music, Industrial Music, etc.
What Is EDM Music? Final Thoughts
EDM music is a blanket term for different subgenres produced electronically using analog and digital equipment and aimed to be danced to. If you wish to venture into the EDM world, you can start by choosing the genre you wish to specialize in and then follow up on what the renowned artists in the field are doing to nail your skills.
P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!