The French have always been in the forefront when it comes to electronic music. In fact, the pioneers of electronic music were all French gentlemen. It is difficult to say why, but the French have produced good electronic music all along and today, they have surpassed Britain and America in producing quality electronic music compositions. If we talk of the present, there are some great talents, both old and new, that are creating some wonderful electronic music. Some of the leading names are Daft Punk, Justice, Digitalism, Agoria and NoiseGun. The current crop of musicians owe their success to Pierre Henry who started the trend by creating a track called Messe pour le temps present in 1967. Many of the present day artists are greatly influenced by Pierre Henry.
With the advent of smaller, cheap synthesizers many musicians started to compose electronic music in the 70’s. Jean Michel Jarre made electronic music very popular with his album Oxygene in 1976. He was the person who brought electronic music to films, and Vangelis owes his success (Blade Runner) to Jean. His influence is clearly felt in the music composed in all genres in the 80’s. While 80’s produced more disco music than electronic music, one notable exception is Depeche Mode, who came from Britain and rocked the music industry in France by creating memorable electronic music. He created a wave of synth pop music and there were various artistes who tried to copy his style. This phase in the French electronic music is also referred to as Cold wave. Though none of the bands could recreate the magic of Depeche Mode, Kas Product became widely popular across Europe, especially because of its Goth music. Taxi Girl was another band which produced good music and became famous in France. The composer of this band, Mirways made some famous songs for the New York electro duo Fischerspooner.
The 90’s saw the French electronic music reaching its peak and this music became famous all over the world. 90’s also saw the emergence of Daft Punk, Air, Etienne de Crecy, Cassius, Alex Gopher and Sporto Kantes. A young DJ, Lauret Garnier created waves with his electronic music and churned records after records. Initially there were numerous compilations from Buddha Bar and then came the robotic music from Daft Punk. 90’s is also known for some soft, soothing music by Air.
French are credited with creating a subgenre of music which is called lounge music. Buddha Bar is a classic example of this kind of music. It created mass hysteria among music lovers all over the world in the early years of 2000. In between music which is also called mid-tempo was also popular during this period and the main artists behind it were Etienne de Crecy and Dimitry.
As of today, there are many artists keeping the flag of electronic music high in France, the most prominent among these being NoiseGun and Agoria. Looks like electronic music is here to stay with more and more artists joining the bandwagon.
Electronic Music is a very broad term referring to that category of music created with the help of electronic equipment. These equipments may be synthesizers, computers or drum machines. The credit to record first electronic music goes to Thaddeus Cahill, who used a Tele Harmonium in 1897. It was indeed a very heavy harmonium that weighed almost 7 tons. Another instrument called Theremin was used by Leon Theremin in 1919 to make electronic music. It was only after the First World War that electronic music began to be composed on a large scale and people welcomed this kind of music as something refreshing and different from that produced by usual instruments. Electronic music caught the imagination of the people with the invention of tape recorders in 1948. And when analog synthesizers hit the markets, there was a spate of electronic music compositions. The notable composers of this era were Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Henry, Pierre Boulez, Edgar Varese and Steve Reich.
The earliest musical compositions on electronic instruments were all classical in nature but with passage of time popular music got composed with the help of electronic instruments. Walter Carlos created waves with his compositions in the 60’s when he recreated classical compositions on synthesizers. With advancement in technology, cheap synthesizers got introduced in the market. They were also small and portable and this prompted their use by many rock bands. The popular bands who used electronic music were The United States of America, The Silver Apples and Pink Floyd. Kraftwerk was the most successful band in the field of electronic music in the 70’s, and the music they created still reverberates in the ears of music lovers.
The band Weather report experimented with electronic music when it mixed sounds of acoustic instruments and synthesizers. One of their members, Joe Zawinul continues to make such music till today. A very famous jazz music composer Herbie Hancock is credited with the most experimentation when it comes to electronic music using synthesizers. He explored the field even further in the 80’ with his album Future Shock.
80’s saw a huge number of composers such as Brian Eno, Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre and many others who devoted their energies to produce some memorable electronic music. Their efforts inspired musicians to make electronic music for Hollywood films and one of the most prominent of such films is A Clockwork Orange. Many sci-fi films made use of electronic music to create an atmosphere suited to the subject of their films. Electronic music became so popular that groups composing these music compositions were hired much the same way as singers and other composers to produce sound tracks of films.
The period starting from late seventies to the mid eighties is known for the innovations made in the field of electronic music. It was during this time that digital synthesizers made their entry and analog synthesizers gave way to them. Samplers which were very heavy and expensive till now gave way to lighter and cheaper samplers. In due course of time, a separate genre called industrial music was carved for the music composed using electronic instruments.