Disclaimer: I have been a skeptic of techno music for a while now, never quite understanding the recent rise in popularity of the genre. While discussing it with a friend recently we asked ourselves, what is the point of techno? This music that appears to be repetitive, with lyrics few and far between, if at all. But, it turns out there is far more to the genre than I ever realised. I don’t claim to be an expert on the music, and this may be common knowledge for some, but this article is made up of information I found so interesting that I had to share.
The genre which we now call techno first emerged in Detroit in the late 1980’s, though clearly it has developed and branched out greatly since then. It originally resulted from the blending of Chicago house, funk and electric jazz, with artists such as Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder defining the genre. By the 90’s, techno had spread to the UK and Germany, and Berlin is now recognised as the techno capital of Europe.
While this may seem obvious, it seems necessary to point out that techno is literally short for technology. This one simple fact actually changed my view of the genre quite considerably when I was first made aware of it. Without delving too deeply into philosophical territory, techno music is actually an attempt at breaking down the alienating effect of mechanisation on the modern human consciousness. Techno is the transfer of the spirit from the human body to the machine, the link between the two. So, while some may perceive it as monotonous and dull, this is basically the point of techno, a collaboration if you like between human and machine. This information completely changed the way I viewed the purpose of music; melody or vocals do not have to be the most important aspect.
Techno pioneer and musician Derrick May pointed out that the reason techno appealed so greatly to those in 80’s Detroit was because of its cleanness, that “everything is an ugly mess in Detroit, and so we were attracted to this music”. The clean rhythm that defines techno is valued over other musical features, such as vocals or melody, and reveals the escapism of the techno genre in the 80’s. The repetitive nature of techno lends itself to continuous DJ sets, and from a practical point of view techno music is, with the correct equipment, a one man job and can be made almost anywhere thanks to technological advancements.
In the here and now of 2018, artists such as Nina Kraviz, Bicep and many more define techno. The techno genre has sprawled and influenced many other styles of music, with styles such as tech-house and trance emerging. While elements of the music from 80’s Detroit remain, changes in technology have no doubt brought about changes in techno music itself.
Having barely scratched the surface of techno from the brief research I have done, it is clear there are countless studies on the genre – techno music has, in one study, been shown to be an effective treatment for pain (though this may just be true for music in general). In recent years the popularity of techno has exploded, and though I still may not be passionate about the genre, I feel all the more enlightened now that I understand where it came from – and I definitely am not so judgmental about it.
Post by Jess Williamson