Comment Piece: Dance Music Broken Down


Dance music is a genre with almost as many variations as there are glowstick wearing revellers to play it. With such a high volume of styles appearing all the time, it can be hard to keep track of!

A lot of these variations have confusing, seemingly irrelevant names that offer no clues as to the content of the music they describe; breakbeat hardcore, goa trance, psychedelic trance, electroclash, gabba, synthpunk, the list (sadly) goes on and on.

Here’s a few of the more traditional ones explained for your delight, but you’ll have to decipher the weirder ones for yourself.

Drum and Bass

The annoyingly repetitive sound you hear whenever a Corsa or badly modified Nova squeals by. Claims to take its basslines from reggae and its beats from hip-hop or techno. Often played by talentless DJs on a Saturday night.

Key artists include; Goldie and Futurebound.


A faster form of dance music with much heavier basslines and the occasional very irritating lyrical hook. With its super fast style (up to 190 bpm) you can usually hear it from a mile off. Those producing it should really take a hint from its name and disappear into the wilderness; the Tigers will deal with them.

Key Artists include; Total science and John B.


An easy to remember term to describe dance music that has a 4/4 beat basis and a solid, more electronic bassline. So called (probably) because it originated in the bedrooms of the people that invented it. Sadly, it didn’t stay there.

Key Artists include; Daft Punk and Roger Sanchez.

Acid House

A variant of House music characterised by the use of tone generators and filters. Is occasionally accompanied by hoses that spray liquid of the same name down onto the tone deaf automatons that dance to it, or at least it should be.

Key artists include; Phuture and The Shamen.


Another variant of fast, seemingly never ending noise with a 4/4 beat. Responsible for spawning the type of fools that could easily rave to the sound of a traffic signal or ambulance siren. Makes robots angry.

Key artists include; Orbital and Pysclon.


A minimalist form techno that is, in my opinion, not minimalist enough. So named because of the state of bored sleep it forces you into after 30 seconds of hearing it.

Key artists include; Armin Van Buuren and Chicane.


Not to be confused with its porn name sake (although the repetitive pounding and bored expressions that it induces do have their similarities) this particular form of dance music is even faster than the rest (up to 300 bpm). Anyone able to adequately dance to a beat that fast should seek scientific study. Immediately.

Key artists include; Alec Empire and EC8OR.


Music designed to not be noticed but that can never be completely ignored once it’s been heard. Think muzak in shopping centres or tower block lifts. In a word; pointless.

Key artists include; Leftfield and Air.

So that’s just a scratch on the surface of Dance music. I can name at least forty more off the top of my head. I really wish I couldn’t.

Originally published here:


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