Electronic Dance Music In Historical Perspective

SynapseWith electronic dance music's surging popularity attracting the attention of investors, Madonna trying to stay on top with an album titled MDNA and references to Molly (MDMA) and EMI launching a Global Dance Network to connect international business activities, it's a good time to gain some historical perspective.

I'm no EDM historian but I did read Keyboard Presents the Evolution of Electronic Dance Music. More importantly, I recognize great resources when I see them so I've gathered a few historical items for those business people who want to go deeper than a latest trend mentality and for those artists who recognize that the future emerges from the past.

I was saving this roundup for a bit later but when both the Real Bob Lefsetz and Fake Bob Lefsetz weigh in, it's time to make your moves before the wave crests.

Skrillex' Grammy nominations followed by multiple wins, an achievement that surprised all sorts of people, may have been the first sign that the music business establishment was about to embrace electronic dance music. But certainly EMI launching its Dance Network and investor interest from both music industry insiders and outsiders indicates a new phase of respectability for what was once a renegade subculture.

DJ Pete Tong is concerned by such developments but telling musicians to just say no to corporate funding isn't really the answer. Neither are references to golden eras and paradises lost but perhaps considering the past will be of use to both those wishing to exploit and those seeking to avoid exploitation.

Reel-to-Reel Beat Matching Virtuosa

Network Awesome has a treasure trove of video resources gathered for Electronic Music Week that look at electronic music more generally. From composers exploring the magnetic tape on reel to reel, which is making a comeback among young composers, to the work of Robert Moog to the subculture of raves, Network Awesome presents an introduction to the history that encompasses EDM.

Focusing on more recent times, FACT magazine offers a collection of 10 electronic music docs they claim you need to see. With sometimes lengthy excerpts, FACT gives you a juicy look at such phenomenon as house music, drum 'n bass, techno and related movements in cultural perspective.

Though Robert Moog tends to be a looming presence, the recent passing of Jack Tramiel, creator of the Commodore 64 and the Atari ST, inspired Peter Kirn to gather quite a bit of material to represent his legacy.

And if all those videos make you want to take a break and do a little reading, you can check out scans of Synapse, an electronic music magazine from the late 70s, then head back towards the future with a double dose of Michaelangelo Matos:

Please add your favorite historical, aesthetic and/or business resources related to electronic music and the emergence of electronic dance music in the comments.

More: The Evolution of Electronic Dance Music [Book Review]

Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith blogs about business at Flux Research: Business & Revenue Models and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. Hey Clyde, as promised, here are the links. (bit late, but just getting settled in my move to Moscow, so yeah).
    Pump Up The Volume – The History of House Music
    Summer of Rave (more about the UK)
    Detroit Techno – The Creation of Techno Music
    From Jack to Juke: 25 Years of Ghetto House
    I think I’ve seen a bunch more like these and will add them when/if I think of them. Anyway, the above is already about 5 hours of material, so more than enough for now 🙂

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