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Electronic Rock Music

electronic music genres

Electronic rock music (some others call it digital rock or synthrock as well) is a type of music that draws heavily from rock music. Of course, it has elements of electronic music as well, with the use of synthesizers, and other technological advancements, such as MIDI and keyboards. It has spawned many sub-genres which will better help define the sound of electronic rock in general, and the more specific sounds it can have. Just a friendly warning, this page will be longer than most of my other ones, as this is an old genre, and there is much to cover.

This is a song by The Beatles, and while it's more reminiscent of Psychedelic Rock, this is where electronic rock music started.

sound of electronic music

The sound it will adapt is like that of rock music, but played especially with electronic instruments. The Mellotron is one such instrument and resembles a keyboard. The actual function though is a bit different. Each key on the keyboard will have a prerecorded sound on it, and the artists will hit these keys at the desired moment for the right sound. There are actually tapes inside of this keyboard that play when hit, although they are limited to an 8 second duration, making it a bit harder for the artist when they want the sound to be longer.

The Theremin is another instrument that was used quite often. It is a very interesting instrument actually, because the artist doesn't even need to touch it to operate it. The Theremin will sense the player’s hands with two metal antennas and can then control the frequency, oscillators and volume of the instrument it's attached to.

With everything that can be incorporated into electronic rock music, it’s hard to give it a really definitive sound section, because it can vary so much, like most other genres with several sub-genres.  All I can say is that it’s basically a fusion of electronic and rock, as the name would suggest.

history of electronic music

Electronic rock music was first introduced in the later parts of the 1960s (a long time ago, huh?). The musicians started using special instruments to better define their sound. These were electronic instruments, such as the Mellotron and Theremin as stated above. The guitars they used where connected to various devices that altered the sound to make it unique.

This type of music was typically referred to as psychedelic rock. During this early period of this genre, many popular artists were using these Mellotrons, such as The Beatles. Some of the artists even went to infuse the sound of the violin, flute, cello and others with this instrument.

With the 1970s came new equipment, new sounds, and new producers. There were new portable synthesizers available which were used to their fullest extent by some progressive rock artists like Pink Floyd. Krautrock was also a part of this transition into the synthesizer-heavy producing techniques, and it helped to influence this genre. During this time, not all artists welcomed these synthesizers with open arms. Queen for example directly stated that they don't use synthesizers, but many others did, and helped to spread the word and acceptance of them.

The 1980s were a big moment for electronic rock music. This is when MIDI first started to shine though, and made the production of electronic music easier. This helped to develop other genres, such as synthpop. Synthesizers then began to overtake the pop/rock music of the early 1980s when most of the "hit" songs were being produced with mainly or all electronic instruments.

In the 1990s, we can see the rise of a few other genres which have sort-of grown out of electronic rock. Big beat for example had both an electronic feel to it and a rock tone as well. Some artists in this genre responsible for popularizing it include The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method and Fat Boy Slim. Also during this time, Industrial rock was climbing their way up too, with artist like Nine Inch Nails fusing it with metal music.

And now we are to the present day. What has happened to electronic rock since the beginning? Well, as technology advanced (and we know how fast that can happen), it became possible to create professional, high quality music with just a single computer. Also throwing the internet into the mix, this massively increased the number of electronic artists in general.

Some genres were born with the mixing of digital techniques and rock, such as electroclash, indietronica and new rave. Synthpop had a revival at this time, with renewed interest in the electronic form of producing. An interesting group called "Horse the Band" mixed hardcore music with that of bitpop, chiptune and gameboy music.

As for where it came from, or by who, I have no idea. I think it's something that just happened. People started using these instruments, making new sounds, and at one point, it was decided that we will call this genre "electronic rock music." Some credit should be given to the inventors of the Mellotron (Harry Chamberlin and the Bradley Brothers) and the Theremin (Léon Theremin), respectively.

Electronic Rock Specifications

Average Beats Per Minute: Varies from artist to artist.

Where It Originated: Unknown. It evolved from rock music.

Stylistically Similar To: Synthpop, Big Beat, Punk-Rock

Year Developed: Late 1960s


General Electronic Rock - Back to the overview of electronic rock.

Alternative Dance - Mixing different element of rock music with electronics, nice!

Darkwave - Has the elements of rock and electronica...with a hint of darkness.

Synthcore - Interesting for sure, mixing metalcore, post-hardcore and electronica!

More sub-genres coming soon.

You are at electronic rock music.

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