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History of Electronic Music

Electronic music developed through new technology of the early to mid-seventies. Many historians site Krafterk from Germany as bringing electronic music into the mainstream with their 1975 pop hit "Autobahn." Another wave of keyboard musicians came in the 1980s with new wave and the new electronic sound of pop. Artists that dominated this era included Depeche Mode, New Order, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys and more underground groups like Front 242, 808 State and Bomb The Bass. In the 1990s electronic music battled for mainstream prominence. The development of the rave scene from the late eighties through early 2000s created an entire new world of music. Below are links to lists of commonly requested electronic songs at parties and clubs.

Electronic Music 1980s
Electronic Music 1990s
Electronic Music 2000s

The key developments in electronic music stem more from technology than musicianship. The Mellotron was an early synthesizer used by The Moody Blues in the mid-60s. This instrument was significant because it used audio tape and early sampling techniques. Another precursor to modern synthesizers was the Hammond organ developed by Laurens Hammond and John Hanert in the 1930s and the Vox Continental combo organ, used by Ray Manzarek of The Doors in the late sixties.

The Moog Synthesizer played a huge role in the electronic music's development in the 1960s. The electronic analog keyboard instrument was introduced by Dr. Robert Moog in the mid-60s. It gained widespread attention after it was demonstrated at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Early adopers included The Beatles and Wendy Carlos. Moog was influenced by an earlier instrument called the theremin, developed by Russian-born KGB worker Leon Theremin. He unveiled the earliest version of the instrument in 1920 then the first drum machine called the Rhythmicon in 1931. But Theremin's early electronic inventions did not become well known for decades until perhaps "Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys in 1966. By that point recording equipment had become as important to electronic music as the instruments.

One of the first singles to showcase the Moog synthesizer was "Minotaur" by Dick Hyman in the summer of 1969. Later that fall, The Beatles released the Abbey Road album, which featured the Moog on songs such as "Because" and "Here Comes the Sun." The 1971 film soundtrack A Clockwork Orange was another big breakthrough for the instrument. Stevie Wonder used the Moog on his recordings throughout the 70s as it was prominent in hits such as "Superstition" and "Livin' For the City."

The rise of disco music in the 1970s was a milestone for electronic music, which virtually began to dominate pop music by the end of the decade. Pioneers of the disco sound were producers such as Barry White and Giorgio Moroder. Progressive rock acts such as Yes also experimented with electronic music, as did more mainstream rock acts like Electric Light Orchestra. The main catalyst for what came to be known as "techno pop" was the German band Kraftwerk, particularly their hit "Autobahn," released in 1974. One of the most techno sounding hits of the decade was the number one smash "Pop Muzik" by M, whose real name was Robin Scott, a producer who helped shaped the idea of the one person electronic band. Prince also emerged in 1979 as an all in one producer/artist.

New wave music in the early 80s helped bring electronic music further into the mainstream with artists such as Human League, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, A Flock of Seagulls and New Order. The popularity of electronic music was fueled even more in night clubs as disco began to erode and techo took its place. The development of hip hop music also played a big role throughout the decade. By the middle of the decade there were many all electronic bands that occupied the pop charts. But again, none of this could have been possible without developers of electronic instruments such as Yamaha and Roland. The first digital synthesizer was the Yamaha DX7 in 1983. The Roland D-50 in 1987 represented another milestone for electronic music due to its sampling capabilities.

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