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What's That Sound? A Comprehensive Beginners Guide to Genres and Sub-Genres


The Comprehensive Beginners Guide to EDM Genres and Sub-Genres

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Sub-genres: Progressive House, Deep House, Tropical House, Tech-House, Future House, Electro-House

Notable Artists: Zedd & Eric Prydz (Progressive House); Lane 8 & Jamie Jones (Deep House); Kygo & Thomas Jack (Tropical House); Claude Vonstroke & Carl Cox (Tech-House); Tchami & EDX (Future House); Black Tiger Sex Machine & Feed Me (Electro-House)

BPM & Style Distinctions: 120 – 130 BPM; percussion driven rhythms, complex melodies, jazz influences, synthesized bass lines, 4/4 beats.

House is constantly evolving since its initial beginnings in the late 70s. House is characterized by four quarter beats per measure (4/4), and often has that “untz”-ing sound. This genre includes a bit of soulful funk, which resonates with the swaying bass beat.

When delving into the different sub-genres of house, that’s when distinctions can be difficult. Progressive house is a common style by mainstream festival headliners. This genre first derived from underground electronic house, but has changed to become more commercialized in recent years (“House Music”; n.p.). Progressive house has a tendency to have more uplifting, lyrical elements, which helped pave the way for the commercialized Big Room genre at mainstream festivals.

Deep house is often the most misunderstood. Many of the more recent deep house releases are by artists that also tend to dabble in tropical or future house, which can make it all sound similar. Deep house has a similar 4/4 structure to house, but with a slower tempo, more complex melodies and jazz influences that stray away from pop techniques. It heavily relies on bass for that smooth “wub” sound. In contrast, tropical house means how it sounds. Its characteristics often consist of tropical, beachy sounds and the drums to match. This style often includes pan flutes, and smooth saxophones. This genre is great for having a drink by the pool, or for cheering up your winter blues.

Tech-house is another sub-genre with a name to match its technical elements. This genre combines techno and house for a more abrupt sound. It has the soul and funk of house, but with the rigidness and sharp percussion of techno. The music in this genre often takes a unique ear. It’s often a little weird, with consistent beats and little to no drops. But honestly, weird music is the best music. The Dirtybird label is a great one to check out if you’re looking for varying forms of tech-house.

Future house is also a difficult sub-genre to decipher. It reflects similarities to deep house, so many typically see both genres as synonymous. This sub-genre is a newer development that Tchami jokingly created, which was then moved forward by the internet. Future house includes elements of electro, along with drops, builds, and reverb synths that are not present in deep or classic house.

Lastly, electro-house brings in elements of electro and bright synths to create prominent, loud, and sometimes distorted bass lines. It tends to have minimal percussion, so the bass lines can carry through the song. For example, Black Tiger Sex Machine’s earlier EPs include more elements of electro-house, but their debut album incorporates harder, dubstep elements (AKA electrostep).

Intro, Techno, Trance, Bass, Dubstep, Hard Dance


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