What’s the Difference Between House and Techno Music?
House and techno are two closely related genres that demonstrate some key differences. They’re both electronic dance music, but they have distinct characteristics. A seasoned music fan can notice the difference between house and techno music right away, and with a bit of education, so can you.
Techno has a faster tempo than house music, while house tunes use sawtooth waves in their production. In addition, techno music often doesn’t have four-on-the-floor beats (which are common in house music), but it does have an emphasis on repetition and minimalism. Keep reading to learn more about how these two genres differ from one another—and what they share!
What is house music?
House music is a type of dance music that evolved from disco in the late 1970s. House music has a 4/4 beat and typically features a strong bassline. It’s also very danceable, so it’s no surprise that house music has become popular at music festivals around the world.
In addition to its popularity as party music, house is also recognized as being an influential genre in modern day electronic dance music and hip-hop. It’s fully made its way into the music festival circuit, and some will say it’s even taking the lead.
The popularity of house music is culturally intertwined with the rise of EDM, or electronic dance music. This genre is often referred to as a catch-all term that includes house and techno as well as other types of electronic music like trance and dubstep.
What is techno music?
Techno music was developed in Detroit, Michigan, during the mid-to-late 1980s. It gained popularity largely in Europe and the United States, where it has remained popular today. Techno incorporates elements from other genres, including drum and bass, ambient, industrial music, and electro-funk music styles.
Unlike house music which is focused on vocals and melody (or sometimes just providing a “bed” for dancing), techno often emphasizes rhythm by using repetitive loops that can be anywhere from then seconds to several minutes long with little variation in pitch or tempo throughout that time period. The rhythm generally consists of kick drums on every beat as well as some form of percussion instrument such as hi-hats or hand claps playing off each beat as well—but not always! Some techno tracks have no percussion at all.
Techno is generally instrumental, although it may have vocals. Songs usually range from 150 to 180 bpm (beats per minute) and can get quite lengthy. It’s not uncommon for a techno track to be upwards of seven or eight minutes long. And just because there aren’t any words doesn’t mean there isn’t emotion behind those beats!
The Origins of Techno and House Music in the US
In the US, house music originated in Chicago, and techno originated in Detroit. House music developed several years before techno took off in the neighboring state.
House music was born from disco sounds that permeated music culture in the ’70s. The music is often associated with the African American and gay communities, especially when it comes to its origins. The term “house” was first coined in reference to The Warehouse, which played a mix of soul and disco music in Chicago’s South Side. In a later section, we’ll talk more about The Warehouse and its contribution to house music.
Techno is a genre that emerged from Detroit’s underground scene during the mid-’80s. It has its roots in disco and electro, with elements of ambient and industrial music thrown into the mix as well.
Techno Music in Germany
Techno music also took root in Germany in the ’80s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that techno really started to take off. During this time, there was a huge influx of DJs from Detroit making their way to Europe, which helped spread techno’s popularity. These Detroit DJs brought with them both house music and industrial music influences that ultimately made their way into what is now known as “techno”.
The first major techno music festival, Mayday, was held in 1991 in Berlin. By 1993, techno had gained enough popularity that it began to be played on radio stations across Germany.
Techno has since spread across the world and is now one of the most popular genres of electronic music.
Disco’s Influence on House
House music was influenced by disco, which came about at the same time. Disco music also has a 4/4 beat and is characterized by a prominent bass line and the use of synthesizers. Disco was inspired by Latin and African American music as well as electronic experimentation. At the same time, house music is influenced by jazz, funk, soul, and other African American genres like blues.
House Music’s Namesake
House music was named after The Warehouse, a club in Chicago that was founded by Frankie Knuckles. The Warehouse opened in 1977 and was the first dance club to play house music. House music is often associated with disco because it grew out of disco’s rhythms and styles—but it’s much more than just a derivative of disco.
Techno, on the other hand, allegedly got its name from an event held at Berlin’s Berghain nightclub in late 1989: Ostgut Ton founder Steffi Schulz played some tracks by Detroit producer Juan Atkins (a member of Cybotron) during her set there; she told him they were “techno” tracks.
What’s the Difference Between House and Techno Music?
House music and techno share a lot of the same characteristics, but there are some differences between them. The most notable difference is that house music tends to be more melodic than techno, which is usually more beat-driven.
In fact, one of the most important differences between house and techno is the difference in their beats. As previously mentioned, house music tends to have a steady 4/4 beat, while techno has no set time signature and may use triplets or other unusual rhythms. Anyone who’s tried to dance to techno for the first time might feel a bit thrown off by the hastiness of the beat.
This distinction creates a sense of accessibility versus obscurity that helps define each genre. Though house and techno began as underground styles, today’s audiences are generally familiar with them. In fact, some even believe house music has gone mainstream. This year, both Drake and Beyoncé supported house music in their new releases, proving that theory correct.
Techno and House Music Similarities
We’ve already established that techno and house music are both electronic dance music genres. Both genres were developed on computers during the 1980s and 1990s by musicians who were inspired by disco, funk, electro, and hip-hop. They both feature catchy melodies with strong basslines so people can dance to them at clubs or raves—but people don’t have to be at a club or rave to enjoy these musical styles!
- Published: October 13, 2022
- Author: Ashley
- Located In: EDM Industry & Culture
- Read Time: 5.7 Min