'Electronica' is a label that's been put on the genre of electronic music in recent years, mostly because it sounds sophisticated and neat (i.e., people will buy it). It includes hundreds of sub-genres and sub-sub-genres, including techno, house, drum n bass, jungle, ambient, trance, trip-hop, gabba, goa-trance, breakbeat, dub, illbient, acid-house, big beat, industrial, rave, and many more.

Electronica has garnered a bad reputation as a word but it is about the only one-word term that can reasonably be used to cover all forms of electronic music, from Aphex Twin to Orbital, right down to mainstream production-line trance. The only alternative is to say "electronic music" a lot which is a bit of a mouthful at times, especially late at night, or to refer directly to the relevant sub-genre which can be tricky since there are so many now, some of which overlap (eg. Drum & bass and Jungle).

(I've got into many arguments before over the classification of my own music, about whether or not it was DnB or the other one, so I just refer to it as electronica now and hang the critics).

It's generally used to mean American techno and so understandably has come to be a by-word in the UK and elsewhere for half assed (as we see it) rave type noodlings.

For those of us who produce electronic music and thus have to use the term a hell of a lot, it's a word that should be reclaimed as soon as is humanly possible to prevent any more cases of soreness of the tongue.

When I first heared the term electronica on the mid/late 90's, I thought it really sucked. There was a name for electronic music already: techno.

Electronica was clearly a name dreamed up by the American music industry to introduce their audience to something that was neither country nor western, to try to market the new new thing to the masses. It was a pretentious, awkward coinage emanating from the boardroom not the underground.

But over time, and with the continued diversification of digital music beyond abstract 4-4 dance sounds, the term begins to sound more descriptive and accurate.

Electronic music is ever-evolving and changing, as artists seek new tricks and new sounds. Electronic musicians are madly interested in finding new sounds.


mode='rant'

If I may go out on a limb, virtually all music will soon be electronic. "Computerised music" will become a tautology - everyone will be composing that way, from instant disposable pop to those seeking the most organic sounding music, simply because it will be so much easier, more flexible and more natural to do it that way. Electronic music will be the dominant musical form of the early 21st century.

Rock and roll replaced big bands because the new technology of amp and guitar meant that four guys in a garage could now do what used to take seven or eight people.

But now, one guy in his bedroom can start to make music. A budding teenage musical genius or duo don't need to find a drummer and bassist.

Rock and roll is now folk music - a quaint, obsolete character piece. It's all techno from here on in.

Just as you didn't listen to the same Rock and roll as your parents, changing tastes will not make techno obsolete. Styles of techno, sure. For instance, where is goa trance today? Dead, cheesy, old hat. But electronica is the present and future of music.

PS: For those of you who claim that they can only listen to electronic music, techno, when dancing, stoned, high, tripping or whatever, whilst I concede that some of it... a lot of it is like that, I suggest that you try other forms of techno. There's a lot of variety out there.

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