Concerts

Why I can't take "EDM" seriously

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Some of this sentiment might be attributable to old-school sentimentality. I am yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. I acknowledge that.

But there are reasons for my dislike that transcend the fact that I'm a crotchety old raver. 1) It's inaccurate. 2) It's really only used in the United States. 3) It's used mostly by people outside the scene to describe music they don't really understand.

I started listening to electronic music in the late '90s. Back then, people used another blanket term for electronic music: techno. This wasn't a sustainable descriptor, mostly because techno is a specific sub-genre of electronic music -- it's kind of like referring to all rock music as "metal."

Those of us who were listening to it, though, typically didn't refer to it as "techno." We used the names for the specific sub-genres -- house, drum-and-bass, garage, trip-hop, etc. -- or we talked about music in the context of a specific event.

Sometimes, you'd hear people talk about "dance music" when discussing the rave scene during that point in time. This is how Europeans were referring to electronic music, and it was considered self-evident that the dance music in question was electronic -- what other kind of dance music was there, really? In Europe today, most people still use the term "dance music," and they consider the "EDM" term to be uniquely American (and, judging from how different European artists have used the term when I've talked to them about the scene, they also seem to think it's rather quaint).

Things changed as the genres gained popularity in the United States. A few years ago, around the mid-2000s, electronic music became much, much more popular, and a new blanket term to describe it was generated: EDM, which stands for "electronic dance music."

You might be wondering by now what my big issue with the term is. After all, EDM isn't that far removed from "dance music," and we have to call it something, right?
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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen