The History of Techno Music

Origin of the Genre

Techno came out of Detroit in the 1980’s as underground dance music and subculture. Techno music took technology and made it a black secret. It came from the melding of black styles including Chicago house, funk, electro, and electric jazz with electronic music. It is built primarily on computers by sound engineers. It has a very futuristic, electronic sound. Some of the musicians are known as “techno rebels”.

Characteristics of the Genre

Techno, similar to disco, was dance music with a very fast “four-on-the-floor” tempo. One of the main characteristics is looping of tracks and sounds. It also has a consistent pulse. Some of the instrumental sounds include drum machines, synthesizers, and digital audio workstations.

Social Implications

Techo came around during the time of white flight in Detroit where white people were moving to the suburbs. This change in the makeup of the city left a lot of empty buildings in the inner city that were used as techno clubs. There was still segregation and exclusionary practices in the city, but they grouped all of the black people together to make this art. 

Important Performers

High school friends Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May, known as the Belleville Three, are known as the creators of techno music. Kevin Saunderson is the person who made sure techno music got to the masses by 1983. Other important players were Kraftwerk and Soul Sonic Work.


The Music Institute is the world’s first techno club. People came here to dance for hours. There were no drugs or alcohol in The Music Institute, so people would drink or smoke weed before they came. In addition to techno clubs, the music spread internationally quickly and was very popular in Europe.

Influences of Future Genres

Techno influenced a newer genre, EDM, or Electronic Dance Music. EDM is dominated by white people and is played at raves.

Conclusory Opinions

Techno is another example of black people building something from the ground and taking it to another level. The history of techno is often mistold because nowadays EDM is known as a white genre, but it deserves to be remembered as a genre created by black people.

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