The evolution of electronic music [Magazine Featured]

While the vast majority of consumers today recognise electronic music as the music of the 21st century, its deep roots, which stem all the way back to the 1970s, are easily forgotten. Inspired by the emergence of disco, great producers such as Giorgio Moroder & Nile Rodgers would go on to pioneer a decade of music, whose effect on future music would last forever. 

In this article, the evolution of electronic music from the disco of the 1970s, to the electro house of today, will be discussed. While very early tape machines and sound diffusion systems kickstarted exploration into the world of electronic music pre-1960s, the focus here will begin shortly after that. The history of electronic music is a vast and extensive one, and while the premise of this article is to provide a timeline of electronic music’s evolution, it is essentially a brief outline, rather than an in-depth analysis.

The 1970s

Disco as a genre was much more versatile than what meets the eye. While incorporating elements of funk & soul in the United States, over in Europe, pianos and synths were changing the game, spawning the creation of Euro & Italo disco. Tracks such as Donna Summer’s ‘Bad Girls’ and Boney M’s ‘Sunny’ (both acts of which were based in West-Germany during a portion of their careers) epitomized the use of pianos in their tracks, bringing over, and popularizing Italo-disco in the U.S. Upon disco’s death at the end of the 70s, the use of the aforementioned musical elements would flow over to house music thereafter. Even today, artists such as MK, Sigala and Michael Calfan make prominent use of pianos in their tracks, elements of which can be traced back to the aforementioned Italo & Euro-disco days.

One of the earliest popularized uses of electronic music equipment in disco came in 1974 when an early Roland drum machine was used in George McCrae’s ‘Rock Your Baby’ – a track that topped the US Billboard Top 100 & UK Singles charts. Fast forward to 1977, and Donna Summer’s smash-hit single ‘I Feel Love’, produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, would go on to change the game forever. Boasting a 4-on-the-floor kick pattern, the track became a staple in discotheques across the United States, with the entirely-electronic backing track going on to pave the foundations for the music of future generations – especially techno, electro and house.

Melbourne-based Journalist, producer and DJ. Completed a Diploma of Audio Production at SAE Institute and loves everything from Jazz to Disco. Have a question? Don't hesitate to drop me a line!

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