Infographic: Tempo in Electronic Music
Tempo literally means timing and it’s an intimate part of any musical piece. When comparing music with any other kind of art, tempo has to be taken into account as it’s a main factor of defining aesthetics and ultimately, genres. In essence, tempo tells us how fast or slow a music piece should be played. Especially in electronic music production, tempo is the only guide on how to build any rhythm structure, that being a groove or a harmony one.
The most mainstream way to measure tempo is by beats per minute (bpm). A device which could produce an audible beat measured in BPM was patented in 1815 by Johann Maelzel, however, the pioneer known as Abbas ibn Firnas had developed similar machine already in IX century. This device is the well-known metronome. Metronome changed the music world by providing assistance in sticking to a strict tempo and improved musicians’ timing performance. It became a tool for composers to set a tempo reference and compose music around it.
In Electronic Music, genres have particular ranges of BPMs, however it should be noted that in many closely related genres, these BPM ranges are mostly common. Obviously, the tempo is not the only element that creates a musical piece and a tempo alteration can change a lot. Imagine chilled dub 65 BPM after increasing the number of beats to 128 BPM. We get a relaxed house-like piece! We can divide genres with particular BPMs into two smaller groups - with a border at 100/110 BPM. Below 100/110 BPM we can categorize dub, downtempo, chillout and hip hop genres. Above it, we mostly find dance, bigroom-type styles. Starting with house, electropop and breakbeat, through dubstep, trance, techno, trap and hardstyle. More energetic genres i.e. Drum and Bass, Hardcore/Gabber, Jungle have BPMs higher than 150.
Take a look at the infographic above. Of course not all genres and subgenres are covered, but it’s a broad coverage of different tempos in electronic music.