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Key Features of Modern Electronic Music Subgenres

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Here are some slightly indistinct key features of notable electronic music subgenres of the last few decades that can help you, in case you wanted to produce a certain genre and you didn’t know where to start.

 

Footwork

  1. Pitch-shifted R&B and hip hop samples
  2. Half-step beats
  3. Rhythmic complexity
  4. Short samples constantly repeated
  5. 808 Sound Bank (frequently)
  6. Tempo Range: 150-170
  7. Example: DJ Rashad – Show U How (feat. Spinn)

 

Trap

  1. Hip Hop drum patterns with extensive use of double time hi hats
  2. Sampled rap vocals looped and usually pitched down
  3. Cheesy riffs
  4. Cinematic synths for background layering
  5. 808 Sound Bank
  6. The “dance version of hip hop”
  7. Tempo Range: 135-175
  8. Example: TNGHT-Higher Ground

 

Wonky

  1. Dubstep and hip hop fusion
  2. Off beat hip hop rhythms
  3. Mid-range synths
  4. Crispy feel
  5. Optional: 8bit sounds
  6. Optional: Squelchy bass
  7. Tempo Range: 90-110
  8. Example: Flying Lotus – Breathe.Something/Stellar STar

 

Dub Techno

  1. Minor chord played once every bar or every second bar  instantaneously, with lots of reverb and delay, added to create a tail and an evolving sound
  2. Mix aux signal (add effects like delay, echo, reverb, phasing etc) with the rest of the channels
  3. Techno drum patterns
  4. Tempo Range: 120-135
  5. Example: Maurizio – M4

 

Glitch

  1. Short slices of glitches, noises, clicks and scratches used for percussion
  2. Complex drum patterns
  3. Minimalistic approach
  4. Optional: Mallet synths
  5. Tempo Range: 110-140
  6. Example: Oval – Ah!

 

IDM

  1. Experimentation
  2. Glitch’s sound palette
  3. Complex drum patterns
  4. More experimentation
  5. Optional: Melody
  6. Tempo Range: None
  7. Example: Autechre – Rae

 

Breakcore

  1. Heavy drums
  2. Jungle breaks (Amen mostly)
  3. Melody parts from samples
  4. Complexity and technique
  5. Lots of FX
  6. Tempo Range: 170-220
  7. Example: The Flashbulb – Passage D

 

Folktronica

  1. Folk and electronica fusion
  2. Sampled string instruments
  3. Hip hop beats
  4. Vocals (frequently)
  5. Tempo Range: 90-120
  6. Example: Bibio – Fire Ant

 

Chillwave

  1. Summery feeling
  2. Melody is the most significant element
  3. Lots of FX and lo-fi sounds
  4. Heavy filtering
  5. Song form (frequently) with vocals
  6. 1980s synthpop meets dream pop
  7. Tempo Range: 60-130
  8. Example: Toro Y Moi – Talamak

 

Drone

  1. Long and sustained evolving sounds
  2. Minimal structure
  3. Tuned drones or dissonant noises
  4. Layered  time stretched samples
  5. Tempo Range: None
  6.  Example: Emptyset – Order

 

* These features are indicative and recommended for your convenience. They are not presented as standards or imply the existence of rules