Techno music came out of Detroit in the 1980’s, and carried the influences of popular electronic music of the 1970’s to the dancefloors. The music features regular, pouding beats coupled with distorted synthesized sequences.
The best known early techno producers are Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson, sometimes known as the Belleville Three. They made music for clubs that was a urban take on the music of German musicians like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream were making. While Techno made it to the clubs in Chicago and New York, it was a largely underground style throughout the eighties.
What is Techno?
Techno is pure electronic music, originally designed for dances, that combines the sound of classic German electronica with an american Urban feel. The music emphasizes the machine sound of electronic drum machines, especially the Roland TR-808, and often is based around repetitive riffs played on bass line sequencers like the Roland TB-303.
The history of techno starts in Detroit. The style emerged there when musicians took cheap, used electronic instruments and abused them in ways never intended by their creators. Early techno artists drew on science fiction and futuristic themes in their music. The techno sound depicted a place unlike the aging Detroit city where it was born. The music and the themes of the songs were intended to sound like something from the future. “It’s an attitude to making music that sounds futuristic,” according to techno pioneer Juan Atkins, “something that hasn’t been done before.”
One of the best known early techno songs is “Alleys of your Mind”, by techno artists Cybotron. Works from Atkins, May and Saunderson didn’t make the charts, but were very influential because they were played in major clubs in the US. In 1988, a compilation called Techno! The New Dance Sound helped define the style.
In the 90’s, artists in Europe began to take the Detroit sound of early techno songs and morph it. New variations were created, including acid, ambient techno, hardcore, and jungle. The techno style has gained more popularity in Europe than it has in the United States, because electronica has been popularized more in Europe than in the US.
Techno has been associated with raves since the nineties. The idea of a rave is just a techno party where like-minded techno fans can get together and dance to continuous dj mixes of electronic music. These have been particularly popular in Europe. In 2000, the Detroit Electronic Music Festival became one of the largest and most significant electronica events in the world. It was free and attracted hundreds of thousands of techno music fance from all over the world.