Electronic music

Electronic music refers to music that is made by electronic tone generator, and played by means of speakers. In German, it was common until the end of the 1940s, to refer to all instruments, at the sound creation or transmission of electric power was involved in some way as electric instruments. Consequently, we therefore also spoke of electric music. To date, there is a controversy in the terminology, because on the one hand a scientific term of acoustics and at the same time but also a generic term about new music styles of popular music is meant. On the other hand, categorized with electronic music, a genre of new music, but here the term electroacoustic music has become established. → Main article: Electroacoustic music as a genre of contemporary music.

In the period around 1980, the Electronic Music witnessed by the increasing availability and establishment of synthetic sound generation possibilities a rapid upswing. Especially in the field of music specially produced for the club scene took synthetically produced songs from about 1980 an ever important position and triggered the usual in the 1970s, primarily acoustically produced disco sound very quickly. It began the phase of electronic dance music that was to become the sound of the era during the 1980s and with music styles such as Synthpop, Euro disco, house and finally Techno not only would shape the sound of the decade, but also the subsequent decades crucial. Since that time, synthetically produced pieces of music are popular in the highest degree and have traditionally acoustic songs recorded, especially in the field of club music, but also in the field of pop music gradually displaced more or less.

  • 3.1 First appearance of electronic music in the film
  • 3.2 The 1970s
  • 3.3 The 1980s
  • 3.4 The 1990s
  • 3.5 Since 2000
  • 3.6 Other related music styles


The artistic-aesthetic of music and the science of physics and electrical engineering: In the electronic music two opposing spheres of human creativity meet. Therefore, the development of their requirements from a history of ideas and a technical point of view must be considered out. In the wake of the radical musical changes that the century of " new music " have the 20th century can be, the electronic music plays an important role. Of fundamental importance are initially those concepts that presuppose already possibilities of electronic music, before they actually ( technically ) were available:

The first musical instrument that used electricity was the Clavessin électrique by Jean -Baptiste Delaborde. Although the often -called Denis d'or Father of the Czech inventor Prokop Divis from 1730 was able to the Player of fun to put small electric shocks, but actually used no electricity in the sound generator. 1867 Director of the Telegraph factory Neuchâtel Hipp constructed an electro-mechanical piano. A first patent in the field of electronic sound generation was issued March 12, 1885 E. Lorenz from Frankfurt am Main.

An unusual invention of the electronic instrument making was the Tele harmonium or Dynamophon 1897 developed by Thaddeus Cahill. It worked on the principle of a gear generator, weighed 200 tons and was the size of a freight car. Cahill used for each semitone a giant steam-powered multiple generators, which provided him the sinusoidal output voltages. In his 1907 published draft New Aesthetic of Music Ferruccio Busoni developed his theory of third tones, where he held the Dynamophon most suitable for its musical realization.

Leon Theremin constructed as head of the Laboratory for electrical oscillations of the state Physico-Technical Institute in Leningrad from 1920 to 1928, the sensational instrument etherophone, which was later named after him Theremin. The instrument was technically a beat buzzer structure, i.e., the generation of an audible tone carried by the superposition of two high-frequency and is no longer audible tones. This characteristic of sound production inspired some composers to works specifically for the theremin. By the composer Anis Fuleihan a concerto for theremin and orchestra was created in this way, which was premiered in 1945 with the New York Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski and the soloist Clara Rockmore on theremin.

Around the same time, the German elementary school teacher and organist Jörg Mager dealt with the exact production of micro-intervals and placed as the inventions Elektrophon (1921) and the Sphärophon (1928 ) before. Mager was a follower of the Czech composer Alois Haba, who, by the suggestion of Ferruccio Busoni, already with micro-intervals practically dealt. In addition, lean deduced his interest in micro-intervals of the observation of the acoustician and ethnomusicologist Erich Moritz von Hornbostel that the melody, always appears as one and the same shape with a change of pitch location, but also to the note length. So later be Sphärophon II, his Kaleidosphon and his Elektrotonorgel were completed.

At the " Ondes Martenot " it was also a tone frequency generating beat buzzer with the difference that was also pulled on a rope, which pitch could be changed. Olivier Messiaen used this instrument in its Turangalîla Symphony, the Swiss composer Arthur Honegger placed it in the oratory Joan at the stake one. As early as 1907 had Busoni in his visionary and influential magazine " Design of a New Aesthetic of Music " possible lines of development identified which could be realized only by means of electronic music from the 1950s. He reached in, among others, the idea of ​​" Klangfarbenmelodie ", the Arnold Schoenberg in his " Theory of Harmony " (1911 ) introduced for the first time and has repeatedly addressed in the following years, of relevance to the musical concept of early electronic music. Moreover, the compositional conception Edgar Varèse be viewed with their equally influenced by Busoni and the Italian Futurists noisiness as the anticipation of purely electronic possibilities of sound design.

The way for transfers of music became much clearer with the importance of broadcasting as a medium initially to achieve political goals and later of entertainment.

In the same time the development of the Trautonium falls by Friedrich Trautwein in 1930, which was later further developed by Oskar Sala. For this year, the first Trautoniumstücke by Paul Hindemith come: Four Pieces for Three maid Tonien with the subtitle Des small electric musician favorites.

In 1935, the Hammond organ and the Lichttonorgel competed, with the former gaining the upper hand.


The history of electronic music is closely linked to the history of electronic sound production ( tools, equipment ) coupled. In general, speaks to about 1940 by the electric music and electronic musical instruments. From the early 1950s a certain realized with electronic devices compositional technique called electronic music.

" Musique concrète " of Paris

1943 called the engineer Pierre Schaeffer, a research center for radiophonic art in Paris, the Club d' Essai, in life, who soon artists like Pierre Henry, Pierre Boulez, Jean Barraqué, Olivier Messiaen and early 1950s, then Karlheinz Stockhausen attracted. On October 5, 1948 went to the Paris radio Schaeffer's Cinq études de bruits in a titled as Concert des bruits radio program over the airwaves and thus marking the birth of musique concrète. On March 18, 1950, was the first public concert concrete music held at the École Normale de Musique. As in the early days of the " Club d' Essai " outside of Germany no tape recorders were available, the sounds were recorded on records and mixed simultaneously in one operation from up to eight records. When processing these sounds that were simple everyday sounds, it was their transformation and collage-like combination. Aesthetically proves to the early musique concrète so as a precursor to the radio play and the radiophonic collage. The term " concrete music ", the Schaeffer in 1949 suggested that contributes to a use of found sounds - so-called " sound objects " - bill, but should be understood as a distinction from the composed and thus " abstract " music ( serialism ). With this radical ( bruitistischen ) approach Schaeffer also attended in his own camp for some irritation. In the 1950s, the sound recording allowed on magnetic tape in Paris the introduction of further processing techniques such as cutting, speed, transformations and thus pitch changes. By these options was at this time the Phonogen a kind Mellotron with Klangtransponiermöglichkeit and the Morphophon, like a belt loop delay device.

Aware of the interested public, the musique concrète so was in direct rivalry with the same in appearance trespassing " electronic music " from Cologne. In the early 1950s the work of Schaeffer and his colleague Pierre Henry was involved ideological and partly motivated chauvinistic dispute in a way. A debakulöse performance of their joint composition Orphée 53, which took place at the Donaueschingen Music Days on October 10, 1953 sealed their "defeat" and damaged the international reputation of musique concrète for years to come. The composers of the Groupe de Recherches de Musique concrète (which was in 1951 emerged from the Club d' Essai ) were close to the early 1950s, have always tried to introduce Musique concrète compositional principles of order in, but could not at first against the noise conception Schaeffer prevail. 1954 Edgar Varèse realized as a guest the tapes for his composition Deserts. It was not until 1956/57, works were created by Luc Ferrari, Iannis Xenakis, François Bayle and others, the compositional aspects and later even serial principles presented in much greater extent in the foreground. Consequently, Schaeffer gave the term " musique concrète " now in favor of " electroacoustic music " and also called Groupe de Recherches de Musique his concrète in 1958 by Groupe de Recherches Musicales.

Electronic Music from Cologne

When Werner Meyer- Eppler for a certain type of composing with technical aids the term " electronic music " suggested it was him primarily a distinction from the previous developments of electrical sound generation of electric music, to which he also Musique concrète and the music for tape (see below) counted.

The physicist Werner Meyer- Eppler, Robert Beyer of the mixer, the technician Fritz grandson and the composer Herbert Eimert founded in 1951 with the help of NWDR Cologne's Studio for Electronic Music. The first public concert was then on 26 May 1953, the Cologne "New Music Festival 1953" instead. In contrast to the musique concrète was here trying to capture electronically generated sounds scientifically according to physical rules as the Fourier analysis. The timbre, as a result of the superposition of several sine waves, and the parameters frequency, amplitude and duration were analyzed here in detail.

Initially it was Eimert and Beyer (only ) to the differentiated design of timbres. It was not until a second generation of young composers, among them Henri Pousseur, Karel Goyvaerts and Karlheinz Stockhausen, then worked from 1953 primarily due to the consistent implementation of serial compositional methods by electronic means. Significantly for this early musical conception of the Cologne studio is the exclusive use of "synthetic" produced sounds and their direct processing and storage on magnetic tape and then playing through speakers. This was ( at least theoretically) achieved two of music history revolutionary things: first, the complete control over the timbre parameter, which had remained always imponderable for the composer and now also the serial organization method could be subjected. Secondly, the interpreter was as mediating - off instance - and thus the compositional intention potentially distorting. For the first time in the history of Western music, it seemed the composer with works such as Stockhausen's Studie II possible, " abruptly " to pass on their ideas to the listener. The centuries-old attempts to fix the musical intention of ever more precise by musical notation were thus obsolete.

Since the sonic results of this early work, but fell well short of expectations placed on them, they trod in the art of sound synthesis new ways and left in 1954, the original sine wave concept again. With growing complexity of the manufacturing process on the one hand took off the sound quality on the other hand, the sound components extracted increasingly under the control of the composer. A first consequence drew Stockhausen in his composition Song of the Youths (1955 /56), which mediates conceptually between electronic sounds and phonemes and statistical principles of order ( aleatoric ) brought by distributed in space groups of speakers used.

The idea of aural mediation between heterogeneous starting materials results then consistently on the draft live electronics and also for the transformation of sounds from any source, so that the development of electronic music in Cologne expression has completed its closest approach to the former " hereditary enemy Musique concete ". The Cologne studio was not the only place that worked together on the technician and musician in the development of electronic music. Influential were the Siemens Electronic Music Studio from 1956 in Munich under the artistic direction of Orff pupil Josef Anton Riedl and the Columbia - Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York. In 1977, the added IRCAM Centre Pompidou in Paris by Pierre Boulez. The Electronic Studio Basel and the Studio for Electronic Music in Dresden were only established in the 1980s. More electronic music studio were or are in Milan, Stockholm and Utrecht.

"Music for Tape"

In the so-called Tape Music Studio Columbia Princeton University in New York Vladimir Ussachevski and Otto Luening taught students in a special way of dealing with recorded on tape sounds. They assumed that the wide range of possible electronic manipulation can occur in the background, the origin of the sound more and more. First known studies of music for tape provided by the New York couple Louis and Bebe Barron, who dealt since 1948 in her own professional recording studio with extended possibilities of the tape music production. In the studio of John Cage realized Barrons 1951, the Project of Music for Magnetic Tape, together with the composers Earle Brown, Morton Feldman, David Tudor, and Christian Wolff.

The music for tape was especially the diversity in the selection and processing of sound sources for the musical realization of meaning. In America, the distinction between controllable (electronic) and " uncontrollable " was considered ( mechanical ) sounds as not useful.

Another important pioneer of electronic music in the United States was the acting independently of the nascent structure in the university studios Richard Maxfield.

The Canadian physicist Hugh Le Caine made ​​crucial experiments in the velocity of a keyboard 1945-1948. At invented by him Sackbut the player could even by changing the lateral pressure of the key allow subtle changes in pitch, volume and timbre and in addition expressive features such as vibrato that control intensity and transient. In 1955 he invented the Special Purpose Tape Recorder, in which it is a synthesis of multi-channel tape machine and Mellotron, with which with concrete sounds were unprecedented opportunities at work. Composed in 1955 by Le Caine piece Dripsody is only slightly over a minute long and consists of the recorded with the recorder sound of a water droplet, which has been widely copied and placed at different speeds in a pentatonic scale, from which resulted in different pitches. Starting with the original drops to intensity and density increase by more tape loops to a Climax, to twelve-tone arpeggios, which are all derived from the sound material of the drop.

Computer Music

Lejaren Hiller founded in the University of Illinois at Urbana -Champaign, 1958, the second American Studio for Electronic music, Experimental Music Studio. He experimented there next to other researchers with the ILLIAC computer and later the IBM 7090 computer

Besides being used in studio technical equipment can be day three great musical applications for computer account that with the keywords composition (Score Synthesis ) sound generator are outlined ( through simulation ) and tone control.

The " Grand Price Of Ars Electronica " in 1979, developed by Kim Ryrie and Peter Vogel in Australia Fairlight music computer was demonstrated for the first time a wider international audience. This complex (8 -bit ) computing machine brought a major change out the sampling method: It allowed for the first time to save all the sounds of our world in a computer both as to they, too, at any time can not only easily retrieve using the keyboard, but on any desired pitch can bring and to make them also malleable.

This opened composer and producer completely new musical and conceptual dimensions. In January 1982, for example, appeared on a label and publishing company founded in Hamburg especially for such kind of music by Ulrich Rützel the album " Erdenklang computer Acoustic Sound Symphony ". It was the first available recordings with this new production technology. In her liner notes to this album Wendy Carlos, commented, " earth tone may not be widely viewed solely as technical, but must as a musical achievement. Something what electronic music, since they are there, fighting. "

Hubert Bognermayr and Ulrich Rützel introduced the concept of computer -acoustic music for this music genre. The 1983 published " Sermon on the Mount - Oratorio for music and computer voices" solidified this music historical development and provides up today a milestone in computer music dar.

At the seminar organized by the WDR on April 25, 1987 concert "Million Bits In Concert " with the electronic musicians Hubert Bogner, Harald Zuschrader, Johannes Schmoelling, Kristian Schultze and Matthias Thurow first came various computer systems (such as the Fairlight ) in a live concert used. Mike Oldfield settled introduce of Bognermayr and Zuschrader in this technology and went with the Fairlight and Harald Zuschrader on tour.

Chance of computer music is now used also for technically -driven theater and open-air productions, eg as switching music for fireworks.

Development of electronic music in popular music

First occurrence of electronic music in the film

  • Arthur Honegger used 1930 Ondes Martenot for L' idea of Berthold Bartosch. This is considered the first use of an electronic musical instrument in the film.
  • Bernard Herrmann sat for the soundtrack of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951 ), a two theremins
  • Louis and Bebe Barron composed for the science fiction film Forbidden Planet (1956 ) electronic music
  • Ron Grainer and Delia Darbyshire from the Radiophonic Workshop, the special effects department at the BBC, created in 1963 one of the first electronic signature tunes of television with their music for the Doctor Who series
  • The film The Birds ( 1963) produced Oskar Sala electronic birdsong
  • Wendy Carlos created in 1970 the composition of Time Steps, which became known as part of the soundtrack for the film A Clockwork Orange
  • For the sequel of Tron, Tron: Legacy, a total of 24 pieces of music written by the electroformation Daft Punk.
  • Berlin Calling (2008) revolves around the electro scene, Berlin and contains a few exceptions only tracks the producers and live acts Paul Kalkbrenner, who also took over the lead role in the film.

The 1970

  • → Main article: Progressive Rock
  • → Main article: Psychedelic Rock
  • → Main article: Krautrock
  • → Main article: Berlin School ( electronic music)

In the 1970s, emerged in the context of rock music of progressive rock and psychedelic rock, the process elements of electronic music in part by a striking use of electronic keyboard instruments. Through the influence of instruments in computer music synthesizer and sequencer emerged alongside sound modules. Especially the synthesizer was a formative instrument of popular music. Wendy " Walter" Carlos, who studied composition at Columbia University, was one of the first to be interested in the Moog synthesizer, and advised Robert Moog since 1964 in its manufacture. Keith Emerson used the Moog synthesizer also often the influential worked through his virtuosic variety of younger musicians. The new way to subdue any long-lasting tones slow tonal changes, showed a strong affinity for " deliquescent formlessness " of the psychedelic rock ( The United States of America, Silver Apples and Fifty Foot Hose). In the 1970s in Germany, the so-called Berlin school, the Krautrock influenced later developed.

  • → Main article: Fusion
  • → Main article: New Age

Until the 1980s side by side created numerous musical genres that used electronically generated music as an aesthetic means; from New Wave was Electrowave, from Electro Funk Funk was and later hip-hop, disco was from House.

The 1980

  • → Main article: Synthpop
  • → Main article: Hip- Hop
  • → Main article: Techno

In the area of ​​synthesizer - based music had great influence on many later musicians groups like Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode and Suicide, who offered a kind of pioneer work for upcoming styles such as EBM, electro, hip- hop and techno.

The 1990

  • → Main article: Electro
  • → Main article: Electronic Pop Music
  • → Main article: Electronic dance music

Sampling in Techno was created by several genres ( Funk, Electro Funk, New Wave, Electronic Body Music) in the late 1980s. Further influences lie in the percussion emphasis on the African American and African music.

The focus is on electronically generated drum rhythm by drum machine. By sampling loops are generated, creating a Repetitive arrangement creates a characteristic sound.

Since 2000

End of the 1990s were included in the hitherto often regarded as conservative genres of classic rock and folk elements of electronic music. Bands like Radiohead and Tortoise, but also Stereolab processed electronic elements in structures of the classic songwriting and contributed to a re-establishment Electronic (dance) music outside the techno scene at.

Other related music styles

  • Power Electronics, Ritual, Dark Ambient, Electronic Body Music are post- industrial music styles.
  • House music styles: 2 Step, Acid House, Chicago House, Deep House, Dream House, French House, Funky House, Hard House, Hip House, Italo Dance, Minimal House / Micro House, Progressive House, Tribal House, Tech House
  • Psychedelic trance, a trance music culture
  • Early 1990s was the genre Jungle by rapid repetition of breakbeats, from which eventually enriched by electronic sounds, drum and bass was. About the same time was also the so-called Intelligent Dance Music in England.
  • Clown Step, Drum Funk, Neuro Funk, Liquid Funk, Drum Techstep are -and- bass sub-genres, Dubstep is not a sub-genre, it emerged from the garage and the 2 Step genre. something distant and Grime, Breakcore, Digital Hardcore, Big Beat, Nu- Skool Breaks, Harsh, ragga core, and broken beat.
  • Hardcore Techno, Hardstyle, Jumpstyle, Hardbass
  • The term Ambient is how the term electronic music itself, difficult to define, since ambient can move through many different styles of music. The feature is the emphasis on mood by long-drawn sounds and different reverb effects. There is Ambient Techno, Ambient Dub, Space Music, Organic Ambient, isolationist ambient music, dark ambient, Lower Case and much more.
  • Noise and Drone may contain Ambient elements; Illbient, Downbeat and Trip-Hop are ambient -like styles with rhythm. Ambient and industrial music have also sound similarities.