The History of Techno – Part 1

Part 1 – First impulses of electronic music from the mid-1960s to the beginning of DJ culture in the mid-1970s

Techno music has drawn its inspiration from different currents of electronic music and the desire for freedom as well as the resistance against injustice. It was already in the mid60s that the first impulses of synthetic sound experiments by skilled classical composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen or Josef Tal formed substance in the fetus of Techno music. From scratch, the development of Techno music is set parallel to the history of dance and DJ culture.

KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN – A pioneer of early electronic music

With his adventurousness in the musical experiment in the 60s, the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen is considered to be one of the pioneers in the genre of electronic music. He combined classical compositions with the continuously evolving technology of the synthesizer, and he also influenced musicians like Kraftwerk from Düsseldorf. With their sixth album Trans Europa Express from 1977, Kraftwerk in turn became a significant source of inspiration for European and US American DJs as well as for producers of electronic music. Much more than others, Kraftwerk shaped the keynote of international music producers and DJs with their vision of future music.

Trans Europa Express by KRAFTWERK – is considered one of the most cited sources of inspiration for early techno – electro DJs and producers

In the heyday of the Disco era, Giorgio Moroder produced the track “I Feel Love” with Donna Summer in 1977, a milestone in the life history of electronic dance music. There are countless remixes of “I Feel Love” – and DJ Sneak from Chicago has produced one of the best, from my point of view. At the same time, a young band from Sheffield attracted attention – The Human League. While the Punk insurrection was booming in 1978, they produced the single Being Boiled. This profound and affecting track set the New Wave age in motion and is a marker point in the biography of electronic music.

THE HUMAN LEAGUE from Sheffield – Being Boiled – Electronic New Wave Sound from 1978

The beginning of DJ culture in the mid-1970s

In the early 80s, the genre of House music developed in New York and Chicago from Dance and Disco music. US House music represents a significant point of reference to Techno music which emerged in Detroit. DJs and music producers Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan from New York rank among the early protagonists of the US House scene. In the beginning of the 70s, they started to expand their proficiency as DJs. They parted ways in the mid70s.

Your Love by FRANKIE KNUCKLES and singer JAMIE PRINCIPLE –
an early house music classic

Knuckles moved to Chicago to spin records in the legendary Warehouse. Subsequently, he founded the Chicago club Power Plant. On the other hand, Larry Levan – together with the label owners of West End Records – packed all his experience into the prototype of a discotheque as we know it today – the Paradise Garage. Dancing was the absolute focus, and the DJ was entitled to develop himself freely. Especially the sound concept of Richard Long provided the continuously developing beats with a fitting architecture of sound.

As a parallel occurrence to the House scene, artists from New York established their taste in musical experiments and produced Electro Funk. George ClintonAfrika BambaataaHerbie Hancock and Grandmaster Flash  also list Kraftwerk as one of their sources of inspiration when they supplied the germinating New York scene of RAP Music and Breakdance with the soundtrack of its time.

Literature: Wikipedia of the artists listed here; Rave on! by Matthew Collin; Electronic Germany by Christian Arndt