EDM itself is such a limited term when it comes to how we describe the music we all know and love. Electronic Dance Music tells us that the sounds we are hearing are produced electronically with a beat that makes you want to get up off your seat!
As DJs continue to expand, and build upon earlier tracks, it’s becoming quite challenging to classify each style or genre of EDM. Many DJs are varied in their approach and don’t fit neatly into one genre.
This list identifies the 10 most popular EDM genres and their respective subgenres, but if one thing is for certain new genres are popping up all the time!
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House music is arguably the most popular genre of EDM music. Walk into any festival you’ll hear the iconic 4 beats per minute classic sound with a sweet melody and beautiful vocals. Clubs love playing house music because it gets people going and gives that good vibes feeling we’re all seeking. House DJs are even creeping into the “mainstream”, with legends such as Calvin Harris taking over the radio.
Sub Genres: Deep, Progressive, Future, Electro, Tropical, Tech, Hard, Garage, and Tribal
Notable DJs: David Guetta, deadmau5, Zedd, Tchami, Kygo
Techno music is classified by its basic beatline. It’s similar to house music and has since evolved from it, but with a faster beats per minute and slightly darker tone. Techno music is also recognized by the use of repetitive beats that have slow gradual changes. It often incorporates industrial and gritty sounds drawing on the era of the industrial revolution when it was first created.
Sub Genres: Experimental, Minimal, Acid, Detroit, Dub, Techdombe, Hardtek/Free Tekno, Tecno Brega
Notable DJs: Carl Cox, Richie Hatwin, Afrojack, Adam Beyer
Trance music is known by its ability to draw in listeners and let them get “lost” in the music. By entering into a state of trance, you are transported from this world to another with pretty musical melodies accompanied by jaw dropping visuals made even better by some sweet goggles. Trance music used to include less vocals so that the focus would be on the instrumental build ups, but more and more artists are incorporating pop song vocals to stay relevant. You can often find the main stage of your favorite festival blasting happy trance music for fans to rise with the beat and fall in the chorus.
Sub Genres: Hard, Acid, Goa, Vocal, Uplifting, Progressive, Tech, Balearic, Psychedelic, Nitzhonot
Notable DJs: Armin Van Buuren, Above and Beyond, and Tiesto
Dubstep is the perfect genre for all the bass heads out there. With dubstep, the wub wub sounds fill your ears so that you can head bang your heart out. Dubstep also tends to focus on the use of sub bass and often included scattered and screeching sounds. This genre has a cult like following because it is so different from many other types of music and is not for the faint of heart but rather the hard core bass fanatics.
Sub Genres: Trap, Brostep, Lovestep, Thugstep, Dubpoetry, Dubreggae, Dubtechno, Ambient Dub, Dubtronica, Glitch Hop, Trip Hop
Notable DJs: Bassnectar, Skrillex, and Flux Pavillion
Drum and Bass
Drum and Bass music has it’s name for a reason. It focuses on the drum beats and bass line to carry the tune. It’s slightly different and more defined than dubstep. With a sound you can feel in your bones, it draws from elements of jazz, hip-hop, and even other EDM styles like trance.
Sub Genres: Darkstep, Hardstep, Electro Funk, Funkstep Neuro Funk, Liquid Funk, Sambass, Techstep, Drumstep
Notable DJs: SubFocus, Goldie, Roni Size, LTJ Bukem
Garage music is a hard style of music that evolved from house music. This London based sound incorporates a 4 by 4 beatline that uses cymbals and snare drum. It uses chopped up sections from other songs, and sped up verses to put a creative spin on older content.
Sub Genres: UK Garage, Speed Garage, Bassline, 2-step, Breakstep, Future Garage, Grime, and UK Funky
Notable DJs: Disclosure & AlunaGeorge
Hard dance is a popular music genre, especially in Europe, that grew from hardcore rock, metal, and hardcore techno. The hard style is popular due to its expressive and quick beats per minute. It gets you up off your seat by utilizing other genres of electronic dance music like hard techno and hardcore.
Sub Genres: Hardstyle, Gabber, Happy Hardcore, Euphoric, Hardcore, Freestyle and 4 Beat
Notable DJs: Headhunterz & Dash Berlin
Moombahton is a funky genre that plays off of a fusion between house music and reggaton. It’s one of the newest styles of music that even those who think they don’t like EDM can enjoy. It’ll have you salsa dancing your way downtown, and DJs like Dillon Francis love it because it was created entirely on accident at a house party one night a few years back.
Sub Genres: Moombahsoul and Moombahcore
Notable DJs: Zeds Dead, Dillon Francis, Major Lazer, & Yellowclaw
This genre is true to its name because it grabs from breaking beats. These sounds are often heard in other genres of music like funk, jazz, and r&b. Breakbeats are used in almost all other kinds of electronic dance music and the popularity of it on it’s own has declined in recent years. But many artists found their sound in breakbeats.
Sub Genres: Broken Beat, Florida Breaks, Baltimore Club, Nu Skool Beats, Jersey Club, Breakbeat Hardcore, Big Beat
Notable DJs: Bassnectar & Armin Van Helden
Downtempo is often referred to as “headphone” music because it incorporates softer melodies and pretty vocals designed to soothe your soul after a long day. Some fans think it’s too soft to be considered electronic music, but they can just get over it and chill.
Sub Genres: Lounge, Chillout, Trip Hop, Acid Jazz, Space Music
Notable DJs: Moby, DJ Shadow, Odesza, Thievery Corporation
The best part about electronic dance music is that there is something out there for everyone! Whether you want to head bang on the rail to some dubstep or relax at home with some downtempo jams, EDM has a sound for you.
With so many subgenres, we can see how there is some overlap in artist’s style. Many don’t like to be categorized and like to switch up their style. Other DJs will stick to one sound because they know it works well for them. Whatever genre you choose for the day, be sure to turn up the bass, grab your rave gear, and jam out!