Blacks Did That? : Techno Music

ORIGIN AND INFLUENCES

Techno is often called Detroit Techno, I’m assuming you can guess why. That’s right, Techno music originated in Detroit in the early 1980s. In fact, the three people credited with developing the genre the most Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May, all grew up in the same city in Detroit, Belleville. But we’ll come back to them later. Detroit electronic music was influenced by the house records that came out of Chigaco. Even so, techno is a genre of its own, birthed in a city that needed something to call its own. Although it originated in Detroit in the 1980s it became popular in Europe in the late 80s and came back around to ultimately become part of white rave culture during the 90s.

ELEMENTS

  • Break Beats – Different breaks from old records, sped up and placed on a loop
  • Percussive rhythms in common time (4/4) with fast tempos (120 – 150 bmp (beats per minute))
  • Electronic Instruments such as drum machines, multi-track mixers, computers, and samplers
  • Emphasis on the back beat, the second and fourth beats of each measure

PRIMARY PERFORMERS/ COMPOSERS

Didn’t I tell you we would come back to them? That’s right, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May. Often called the Belleville three, they are credited with the creation and development of Detroit Techno. Atkins would start Metroplex, a music label in 1985. This was after already splitting from Cybotron, a group he started with one other artist that made techno music the world had not heard before. The “bellevillee three” bonded while all reccording for metroplex and eventually took up DJ’ing. They would go on to produce the legendary sounds together, often synthesizing funk songs and adding a mechanical spin.

Juan Atkins

A link to his biography, discography, and more.

Click Here

Kevin Saunderson

A link to his biography, discography, and more.

Click Here

Derrick May

A link to his... well you get it.

Click Here

SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS AND COMMODIFICATION

The social implications were strong as Techno was not just something to dance to, it was the creation of people who were harmed by the very tool they utilized the most, technology. At the same time techno music was being created in Detroit, technology was taking over the city, often taking jobs from hard-working people. It also allowed for an “underground” population to have its own sound. Techno music, especially in the context of Detroit Techno, showed the diversity of black people in America, it showed that not only can we do this but we can do that. The music went so far as to create an entirely new party scene, wait did I say it created a new party scene? I meant many new party scenes! For whites, for blacks, in Detroit, abroad, its influence seemed endless. Speaking of influence…

INFLUENCE ON OTHER GENRES

Techno music had a huge influence on HipHop music, the next genre to take African American music by storm. The dj’ing that HipHop holds so dear is one based in the start of techno music. But don’t take my word for it, listen for yourself.

MY OPINION

I admire techno music the most out of all the genres studied in African American music so far. Not because of the sound but more so because of its uniqueness. To create a sound far different than anything heard before is almost unfathomable to my analytical mind. Furthermore, Detroit techno demonstrates the multiplicity of black people and their abilities. It brought light to an entire underground population that had not been heard until that point! Techno will always be the most innovative genre in the study of African American music to me.

Alexus Echols

Alexus Echols

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