Techno Music

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Techno Music

Origin, history and background information

In general

Techno is a form of electronic dance music that was developed in Detroit, Michigan, during the mid to late 1980s. Many styles of techno now exist, but Detroit techno, a genre in its own right, is seen as the foundation upon which many other subgenres have been built.

The initial take on techno arose from the melding of various African American styles such as Chicago house, funk, electro, and electric jazz with Eurocentric synthesizer-based music. Added to this was an interest in futuristic and fictional themes that were relevant to life in American late capitalist society: most particularly the novel Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. Techno music pioneer Juan Atkins cites Toffler's phrase "techno rebels" as inspiring him to use the word "techno" to describe the musical style he helped to create.

Music journalists and fans of techno are generally selective in their use of the term; so a clear distinction can be made between sometimes related but often qualitatively different styles, such as tech house and trance. "Techno" is also sometimes confused with generalized descriptors, such as electronic music and dance music.

Origins

The template for a new style of dance music (that by the mid to late 1980's was being referred to as techno) was primarily developed by four individuals, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May (the so called "Belleville Three"), and Eddie Fowlkes, all of whom attended school together at Belleville High, near Detroit, Michigan.

Of the four individuals responsible for establishing techno as a genre in its own right, it is Juan Atkins who is recognized as the originator; indeed in 1995 American music technology publication Keyboard Magazine honored Atkins as one of "12 Who Count" in the history of keyboard music (this is remarkable considering Detroit techno was still relatively unknown in the United States at that time despite its notoriety in Europe).

Musical influences

The original techno sound drew heavily from its funk and soul music roots to create characteristically intense grooves and percussive basslines. Early pioneers of the genre melded the beat-centric styles of their Motown predecessors with the music technology of the time. In merging the sensibilities of soul music, funk, house music, and electro, with a European synth-pop aesthetic, the early producers pushed dance music into previously unexplored territory. The resulting style came to exert an influence on widely differing genres of electronic music yet it also managed to maintain its identity as a genre in its own right; one which is commonly referred to as "Detroit techno". The sound was refined even further, and given added sophistication, with the addition of jazz tinged colors.

Developments

By the late 1980s and early 90s the original techno sound had garnered a large underground following in the UK, Belgium, and Germany, yet it was virtually ignored in the United States. Its popularity in Europe was largely due to the growth of the free party scene known as rave, something that was slower to take root in the US. As the original sound evolved it also diverged; to such an extent that a wide spectrum of stylistically distinct musics was being referred to as techno. This ranged from overtly pop oriented acts such as Moby to the distinctly anti-commercial sentiments of the appropriately named Underground Resistance.

In the early 1990s, a number of notable techno producers in the UK and Europe built upon the Detroit sound but at this time an abundance of electronic dance music derivatives were emerging. Some drew heavily upon the Detroit aesthetic, while others fused components of preceding dance music forms. This lead to the appearance of what was often inventive new music, much of which bore little if any relation to the original techno sound; the initial jungle (drum and bass) excursions being primary examples.

In contrast to the collectivist sentiment prominent in the early rave scene, each new faction had its own particular attitude and vision of how dance music (or in certain cases non-dance music) should evolve; some examples include ambient techno, trance, industrial techno, breakbeat hardcore, gabber, IDM, acid techno, happy hardcore, minimal techno, and electronica.