Using Effective Sub-Genre Tags for Electronic Music

There are many sub-genre categories for the vast and general term Electronic or Electronica music.  When tagging I like to categorize the terms as follows:

Genre:  Electronic
Sub-Genre: Ambient, Ethereal, New Age, Downtempo/Chill Out, Lounge

Genre:  Electronica
Sub-Genre: Techno, House, Deep House, Tech House, Progressive House, Electro House, Dubstep
Trance, Rave

Since the realm of Electronic music is ever-changing and new sub-categories tend to pop up, it is helpful to stay informed of these specific styles and knowing some of the traits and influential artists that play major roles within these sub-genres.
Here are some details that connect artists and styles to the sub-genres.

Ambient Music

Artists:  Brian Eno, Aphex Twin
Description: Ambient music emphasizes tonal and atmospheric qualities over traditional music with no set form or structure.  Usually smooth textures with underlying deep grooves.
Aphex Twin Examples:



Ethereal Music

Artists:  The Mortal Coil, Love Spirals Downwards
Description:  Ethereal music is very similar to ambient and sometimes can be considered one in the same, however when tagging production music, I distinguish Ethereal as a style that is free from any type of groove and can possibly be free from any set tempo as well.
Love Spirals Downwards:



New Age Music

Artists: Kitaro, Andreas Vollenweider
Description:  Similar to Ethereal music, New Age can be atmospheric and intended to create relaxation, artistic inspiration, and encourage meditation.  Some stylistic features include drones, modal harmonies, ethnic elements and nature sounds.
Andreas Vollenweider:



Downtempo/Chill Out:

Artists: Portishead, Massive Attack
Description: Similar to ambient music, but usually with an emphasis on beat and groove.
Massive Attack:



Lounge Music:

Artists:  Jazzamor, Sergio Mendes, Pink Martini
Description: Lounge is a type of easy listening music popular in the 50’s-60’s.  The range of music encompasses instrumentals, modern electronic (with downtempo/chillout influencees), while remaining thematically focused on its retro-space-age cultural elements.  Lounge Music can also have Latin and Exotic elements.



New Sub-Genres of Electronica:

Deep House:

Artists: Marshall Jefferson, Sofa Loafer
Description: Deep House fuses House with 80’s Jazz-Funk, and elements of Soul music.
Marshall Jefferson:



Tech House:

Artists: Route 94, Afrojack
Description:  Tech house combines aspects of Techno (rugged bass lines and steely beats) with the harmonies and grooves of Progressive House.
Route 94:



Progressive House:

Artists: Deadmau5, Avicii, David Guetta
Description: The genre was distinctly English with harmonic and trance sounds such as extended synthesizer washes.  It also features elements of dub, deep house and big riffs.



Electro House:

Artists: Benny Benassi, Hardwell
Description: Electro House contains prominent bass lines, short and high pitched riffs and minimal to medium amounts of percussion.  It sometimes includes abrasive, electro-influenced synths and vocal or instrumental samples.  Recent compositions tend to feature a “dirty” bass sound created from saw waves or FM with compression and distortion.
Martin Garrix:




Artists: Skrillex, Modestep
Description: Dubstep involves heavy bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals.  Dubstep rhythms are usually syncopated and often shuffled or incorporating tuplets.  One characteristic that stands out is the wobble bass, where an extended bass note is manipulated rhythmically.

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