If you thought EDM stood for ‘Eighties Dinner Muzak’, you need to glue yourself to this thorough glossary on everything that matters. Clubs, controversies, genres, wubs – we’ve got it all in the A to Z of EDM.
A for Ableton
The secret weapon of DJs a-many. It’s software that lets mixmeisters trigger loops and launch samples live. It ain’t Minesweeper behind those coms!
D for Drop
The moment everyone goes mental for; the Herculean release of tension that follows strident swells and accelerated beats. Turn down for what?
E for Electronic
The ‘E’ in EDM. Much like the distinction between acoustic and electric live performances, computer-synthesised elements are the alpha dogs in EDM. Shaking a tambourine won’t cut it.
F for Festival
The grandest stage of ’em all. Supershows beyond the clubs, extravaganzas like Ultra, Tomorrowland, Sensation and Creamfields represent the pinnacles of dance stardom. Think Coachella for EDM.
G for Garage
The dance genre that’s quintessentially British in origin, dashing at brisker tempos with choppy light-footed beats and influences from jungle, dub and r&b. Ups to UKG!
H for House
The type of EDM dominating the globe. Its existing electro-styled evolutions echo the ’80s traditions of Chicago and acid house with rudimentary four-on-the-floor frameworks.
I for Italo
The accidental Italian contribution to EDM. Short for Italo-disco, what started out as cheapskate imitation – with spacey analogue synths and campy vocals – is now a novelty for disco devotees.
J for Juke
The radically syncopated cousin of Chicago house music. Forget 4/4 time signatures, juke (or footwork) turns legs into pretzels with crippling BPMs and garbled rhythms – a niche the late DJ Rashad championed.
K for Kick
The driving force behind any EDM beat. Patterns may be convoluted with complex snares, hi-hats and toms, but a solid kick is what keeps it all together.
L for Label
The entity that allows fresh artistes to be discovered. Almost like leaving behind a legacy – i.e. Hardwell’s Revealed and Scuba’s Hot Flush – reputations are immortalised with proteges and fanbases.
M for Moombah
The import of reggaeton, itself a mish-mash of Jamaican dancehall and Trinidadian soca, into EDM. Flip those dreadlocks with the house-anchored moombahton or the dubstep-distorted moombahcore; it all sounds rasta fine to us!
N for Nu-disco
The neo-modern revivalism of ’70s disco; a glossier advancement from ’80s Italo. Still setting afros and spandex on fire with funk-infused bass licks and bright perky beats.
O for Opposition
The commonplace wrath of sceptics against EDM commercialism. Contempt has arisen due to scandals involving ghost producers, pre-mixed sets, repeated releases and cliche lyrics. If we hear “Put your f*cking hands up” one more time…
P for Progressive
The misunderstood term that’s currently wrongfully associated with big-room house sounds. On the contrary, prog of the early ’90s used to signify elongated, slow-building symphonies that’d require partygoers’ patience. The times have changed!
Q for Queues
The evident and tumultuous appeal of commercial EDM in this day and age. Good luck attempting to snag those tickets for that superstar DJ or themed festival, be prepared to get in line.
R for Roland
The instrument brand that pushed analogue production during the early rise of EDM. If digits like 303, 808 and 909 ring a bell, they’re attributable to Roland’s signature drum machines and bass synthesisers.
S for Sync
The button that’s become the bane of DJ-ing. Decksmiths on the ones and twos are taught (supposedly) to beat-match by ear, so why sell yourself short with this un-cool cheat code?
T for Techno
The mechanised adaptation of house music. While sharing house’s 4/4 fundamental rhythm, techno sacrificed house’s warmth and soul for a steely, inorganic approach that’s still fit for groovin’.
U for Umbrella
The context applied for the usage of the term, EDM. EDM legitimately represents all sorts of dance music, not solely for commercial colloquialism. You don’t call ‘indie’ a genre, do you?
V for Vinyl
The sentimental throwback to turntable tradition, before a time of digital CDJs and thumb drives. Working with wax doesn’t just mean crispier sounds, it tests DJs’ deftness too.
W for Wobble
The oscillating effect synonymous with bass music, including drum & bass, trap and specifically, dubstep. No love for the low-end unless you’ve got some wub-wubs.
X for ‘X’ (Ecstasy)
The drug that, unfortunately, tends to find its way in rave circles, leading to overdoses and frequent casualties. One consequence of EDM culture we obviously don’t approve of.
Y for Youth
The ones most influenced by the inflation of the EDM bubble. They don’t just make up the majority of audiences, you’ll even find prodigious teens running shows as big as Tiësto.
Z for Zeitgeist
The incredible status quo of today’s EDM industry. What was once an underground institution is now a billion-dollar machine, and there’s no shutting it down anytime soon.
This article was originally published in JUICE Singapore December 2014, Issue #195, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.