For new fans of electronic dance music, the terminology is a maze of genres and sub-genres. Let’s let Moby help us sort them all out:
EDM: “The first thing to know,” Moby says, “is that no one calls it electronic dance music. The term is EDM, and it’s a catch-all term for the different forms of electronic music.”
BPM: “All EDM is rooted in bpms (beats per minute),” says Moby, who set a Guinness World Record for fastest tempo in a single with his 1,000-bpm song Thousand. “So Trance music is faster, House music is slower.”
Dubstep: “It’s a descendant of Jungle, an early ’90s, very fast form of EDM with Reggae and Breakbeat influences. Jungle morphed into Drum and Bass, and then there was an offshoot of that, two-step, which slowed the bass lines way down,” Moby says. “Heavy Metal and Hip-Hop, interestingly, share the same tempo, around 75 bpm. Dubstep is an amalgamation of the two.”
House & Techno: “They’re both offshoots of ’80s Disco,” Moby says. “House has a slower bpm, Techno is faster.” Both House and Techno adhere to a steady 4/4 drum pattern.
Breakbeat: This rhythm breaks up 4/4 patterns with syncopation and is often used in Dubstep. “It uses a lot of samples and is not as fast as House music, but faster than Hip-Hop,” Moby says. “The Chemical Brothers made it very popular, but I’d credit Fatboy Slim with bringing it to the mainstream.”
Acid: “It’s not the drug,” Moby says. “Acid specifically refers to the sound of a bass line, and it’s very synthetic. It was a sound created in the late ’80s with the Roland TB 303 bass synthesizer, which has a very harsh sound.” Acid can also be used to distinguish between subgenres, such as Acid House and Acid Breaks.
Electro: “It’s meant so many things in the last 30 years. Now it means futuristic electronic music and was used to describe Kraftwerk and Afrika Bambaataa.