Techno music is a type of electronic and dance music. It emphasizes rhythm and utilizes advancements in music technology and production. It is a mainly instrumental genre, usually reliant on DJ mixes. Techno was developed in and around Detroit, Michigan in the 1980s, and utilizes a myriad of synthesizers, drum machines, multi-tracking, and hardware sequencers. Its main tenets include the use of electronic instruments and the uniformity of a common drum beat.
This style of music uses loop-sequencing and turntables. It also takes advantage of growing technologies with studio effects and futuristic and electronic sounds. Though often strongly mixing melodies and heavy bass lines, techno music relies on pulsing rhythms and follows the typical framework of most Western music. The techno artist, called a producer, uses his studio as a band or orchestra, mixing the sounds he creates into different rhythms as a band would meld instruments into a non-electronic song.
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Techno songs rely on heavy syncopation, and utilize the hard drum beats of hip-hop music. Techno beats have a distinct sound to them, and it is this distinction that produces a distinct techno dance. Multiple drum machines can be used to lay tracks over different tracks to create multi-layered beats. Most songs are in 4/4 time and feature time marked with bass drums on the quarter note and hi-hats every second eighth note.
This genre was created in the early 1980s as a form of dance and party music. One of the most notable influences on early techno music was a group known as “The Belleville Three” — Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, and Juan Atkins — in the suburbs of Detroit. It reflected a post-disco style in its early stages, but soon evolved into a culture than thrived on an anti-capitalist, futuristic angst. It took on many high tech themes, looks, and sounds, including glow sticks and edgy outfits. Techno music relies on an active audience and a highly energetic style of dancing, and has gotten a reputation, whether unfairly or not, for being a harbinger of ecstasy and amphetamines, and encouraging raves and all-night parties. Many techno clubs, though, including Detroit’s nationally known, short-lived Music Institute, are famous for not serving alcohol.
Despite this reputation, its commercial success has grown continually since 1980, and has maintained its position as the house music in many clubs around the United States, and remain among their most popular dance songs. Techno music now features many of its own radio stations, and an annual Electronic Music Festival in Detroit. Among the most important artists active in techno music through the 1990s and 2000s were Moby, Jeff Mills, Carl Cox, and Mike Banks. The genre also features many sub-genres, including trance, house music, and Detroit techno.