Why do people like electronic music?

Because electronic music is so broad, I don’t believe there is an answer. It’s like asking why people like rock music. It really depends on whether you are talking about U2 or Gwar.

I will make some assumptions about your definition and give a general overview of categorical answers. These are based on both my personal experience and the understanding of others. These will be arranged in a roughly ordered list, from the obvious/simple to the more complicated.

Rhythm. Electronic music, although not all of it, is built around strong rhythmic foundations that are stronger than other genres. Many of these rhythms are derived directly from human music’s roots, such as tribal rhythm and chant. It takes almost no musical experience or exposure to recognize a good beat, and there is plenty of electronic music that has great beats.

Danceability. This is largely a result of the previous point. Electronic music is often highly functional for dancing. The driving rhythms of electronic music make us move, which is a great feeling, especially when we do it with others. Some people find the music and strong emotions in these situations to be very intertwined. As an aside, communal dancing is a cultural institution that is being lost in modern society. This is due to the mischaracterization of dance as a predominantly sex activity that leads to self-consciousness and other problems.

Complexity of the timbral. Electronic music has a timbral complexity that is far greater than what you will find in traditional genres. However, electronic sounds are becoming more popular in other genres. It is more difficult to appreciate timbral variation than melody and requires some ear training. It can greatly expand the musical possibilities and make music more interesting for those who overcome it.

Emotional range. Electronic music is more emotional than traditional genres. However, it has a wider range of expression and often more nuanced. Jazz and symphonic classic are my closest rivals. Electronic music is capable of evoking different types of emotions than pop music’s lyrically and melodically driven messages. Traditional genres offer more easily understood narratives, especially those that are lyrical. However, electronic music can evoke deeper and more subtle emotions that may not be as readily described.

Unconventionality. Unconventionality. Electronic music is often viewed as unusual, especially in the United States. Being a part of such genres can give you a sense both of belonging and an opportunity to symbolically reject mainstream ideas. Although this is not a unique effect to electronic music, it is especially evident with techno.

Abstraction. The last thing I’d like to point to is a fantastic and insightful paper written by Dyske Suematsu in 2003 about why Americans do not like jazz music: http://dyske.com/paper/778

Electronic music could also be the subject of this paper. In general, jazz and electronic music have a lot in common. Jazz tends to experiment more with abstract melodies than a fixed instrumentation or form. Electronic music, on the other hand, often abandons complex melody to allow for movement through rich and varied sounds.

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