Chicago House. Funk. Electro. Electronic Music. Electric Jazz. What do these genres have in common? Well, perhaps considered separately few elements are shared, but a culmination of their styles results in a new form of music: Techno. Techno is much more than this though. It requires an actively working balance between body and sound; this alignment creates a sort of technological spirit that infests the artist and its listeners.
Origin and Characteristics of Techno Music
Techno music was first incepted in Detroit in the 1980s as part of the underground music wave. It was influenced by futuristic themes and is even viewed from an Afrofuturism perspective, as many black styles were combined to create the desired sound. Techno is known to be very fast and carries a “four on the floor” type beat. Usually, techno is mostly repetitive instrumental sounds with synths, bass drums, a backbeat, and an added snare, and a hi-hat. This genre requires a good grasp of music technology for complete mastery.
Jeff Mills is a DJ and composer of (mostly) techno music. Due to his skills, he has been dubbed “The Wizard.” He first found fame with the techno group Underground Resistance in 1998, working with other techno producers such as ‘Mad’ Mike Banks and Robert Hood. However, he soon left the group to start his own career independently and has gained international recognition for his compositions.
Over recent years, Mills has spent much time blending the techno genre and cinema. Some films he has been involved in soundtrack production and composition include Metropolis, The Exhibitionist 2, and Man From Tomorrow. He was named dropped by Eminem in “Groundhog Day” from The Marshall Mathers LP 2, with Eminem saying “If you ain’t listened to The Wizzard, you ain’t have a (expletive) clue what you was missing…”
The Influence of Techno
Techno, like its predecessor disco, put much emphasis on electronic club music and brought a lot of fans to underground clubs and bars to have a good time. The genre has revolutionized throughout the year to produce other types of electronic music, including EDM. Techno samplings have also been used in songs, a good example being Missy Elliot’s “Lose Control,” who was inspired by Detroit techno themes.
Though Mills still plays today, he believes the music industry only uses 10-20% of electronic dance’s potential and hence, has become a voiceless art form. I can’t help to agree with him. I remember in middle school listening to electronic dance and loving the new sounds the artists were creating, and just how fresh the genre sounded overall. Now, I feel like there is uniformity on the spectrum of electronic dance genres. I believe this is the music industry’s fault as they promote profitable music, and right now, what we here on the radio or everywhere else, is what the general public likes to listen to. Therefore, companies can make a profit off of these artists.
Even so, some of the most widespread and most influential (and yes, most profitable) music has come from sounds, unlike any other artist. The music industry assumes that they already know what the public likes when in reality, the public DOES NOT know what they want until they hear it. I think if more companies adopted this mentality, there would be more inclusivity of all genres, including techno.