With the increasing popularity of techno and other forms of electronic music, many have begun to inquire about the instruments that produce techno music’s distinctive sound. Electronic music and music technology have proved to be additional mediums through which modern artists can break the conventional molds of composition and representation that was started in the 20th century by modern painters, poets and thinkers.
Techno music uses electronic instruments, e.g., synthesizers and software programs, to create its idiosyncratic sound. What these electronic instruments do is replicate an acoustic sound by employing what are called samples. Basically, music sampling is when a sound engineer records a brief sample or snapshot of an acoustic instrument and then plays it back and manipulates the sound to account for all subsequent pitches. Techno music, which falls under the larger genre of electronic music or electronica, is known for its repetitious drum rhythms and general instrumental nature.
The use of electronic instruments creates an error-free, sometimes unrealistic sound. While these electronic instruments are used to replicate real sounds, the sounds often sound uniform and detached. Adding to this effect are layers of manipulated or “wet” sound. Many techno artists will often employ the use of auto-tune software to perfect the pitches on a vocal melody, simultaneously giving the voice a more robot-like quality. At the core of every techno song is the drumbeat. The drumbeat drives the progression, which can usually be seen as the adding of layers until reaching a chorus.
Like many genres in music, the lines between techno music and other forms of electronic music have become somewhat blurred, and increasingly difficult for discern. With further advances in music technology, electronic music seems well positioned to take the place of more conventional acoustic instruments, and is already doing so. We hear electronic music on our television sets as the score to our favorite film, in video games and even on our cellular phones. Financial as well as practical reasons can be attributed to electronic music’s ubiquity in today’s entertainment.
Like many of the first DJs to produce techno music, we can all capitalize on the affordability of electronic instruments. Instead of paying thousands of dollars to hire an entire orchestra, why not just buy software with the sampled sounds of one, at a fraction of the price? If you opt to take the electronic route you sacrifice the acoustic richness of a live orchestra, but gain the practically error-proof playback on digital music software. DJs in Detroit found this to be an effective tool that inspired them to develop an entirely new genre of dance music.
Instruments in Techno Music
Techno music uses electronic synthesizers and drum machines to replicate acoustic sounds. The instruments replicated vary greatly. Usually at the songs base is a drum pattern, which commonly uses sounds of an electronic drum machine. Besides vocals, which are usually layered with effects, electronic music uses synthesizer-based instruments almost exclusively.