History of Electronic Music

No history of Electronic Music would be complete without looking at its ancient roots first. In 1857 Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a French Printer and Book seller living in Paris, invented a device that he name the Phonautograph for recording sounds. He patented the machine in France on March 25 at 1:00:31 PM.  Normally the exact date and time wouldn’t need to be that important, but in this case it was. It just happned to be that he had two Phonautographs.

One was his prototype and the other was made for a local école (school). As he made his way to the school, he remembered that his friend Jean Piérre’s birthday party was going on. He ran quickly to the party. On hisway through the Jean’s door the crank on his phonautograph caught on his dear friends shirt. In the tussle to get into the crowded  room, Édouard stepped on Jean’s shoe lace.

As a he tried to pull, this way and that way, to free his friend, The nursery rhyme on the machine rhythmically sounded off, forward and back, to the beat of Jean’s stomping foot as he tried to free his foot and shirt from the phonautograph and Martinville’s shoe. The sound from the machine was a rhythmic “Oontz, oontz, oontz,écouter et répéter, oontz, oontz oontz…  ” The party goers danced. It was the first rave in French history.

Ok that may not exactly be how EDM started in history but the facts are also a matter of half truth and half legend, born in a just as unlikely a fashion. Let’s look at the historical facts of other inventions that influenced EDM.

Tape recorders

The tape recorder actually dates back to the 1930’s. One of which was the German Magnetaphon. These large reel-to-reel machines were the predessesors of the compact cassette tape that were introduced in 1963 by the Philips at the Berlin Radio Show. It was the magnetic tape recorder that later allowed for inexpensive sampling and looping. Historically, looping meant using a short tape that was literally looped end to end.

Multitrack Recording

Multitrack recording was the brain child of Ross Snyder in 1955 while under the employ of the Ampex company he designed and produced the first eight track recorder. His eight track recorder was later sold to Les Paul for $10,000. Paul dubbed it “the Octopus”


In the 60’s and 70’s we saw an age of less expensive and more compact electronics. This gave birth to Harold Bode’s modular synthesizer and sound processor, Robert moogs first commercial Synthesizer, Pink Floyd’s Quadrophonic sound (the predecessor of surround sound) Sony and Philips viaing for the first Compact Discs and the introduction of home computers. You take all that and add some experiemental musicians sampling and the birth of modern Electronic music becomes more clear.


With even less expensive and more compact electronics of the 80’s, the use of home computers to generate multi track recordings, anyone with the talent, determination and a computer could start sampling music and laying multitrack recordings.


Today we have the best of all the former music worlds combined. We keep music produced in inexpensive home studios. We store music  in “Clouds” we have MP3 and MP4 players and software like Fruityloops and Cubase. The history of Electronic Music has literally been a sampling of technology. The Future of Electronic Music will likely follow suit being a sampling of todays technology and melding them with the future advancements.



Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.