The Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) celebrates the centenary of electronic musical instruments during the 2019 edition. When did the dance genre really take shape and why have the Dutch been pioneers for decades?
'Popprofessor' Leo Blokhuis, who made the documentary Planet Elektro about the history of electronic music, is still not completely finished. According to him, there are several developments that form the basis of current dance music.
"The arrival of the synthesizer in the 1970s naturally plays a major role," he explains. "Two movements were very important here: the pop artists who used electro as a supplement. Such as Gary Numan and Peter Gabriel, and musicians who took computer sounds as a starting point, such as Kraftwerk."
In the late 1990s, when the trance genre emerged, DJs such as Tiësto and Armin van Buuren grew up. (Photo: NU.nl/Richard Drukker)
Dance has a complex history of origin
The dance scene, which was born from these movements, probably has a more complex history of origin, according to Blokhuis.
"People have of course been dancing to music for centuries. But disco has meant a lot in the development of house and EDM. Disco is based on a simple, continuous bass drum and the house pioneers went back to it with drum computers in the late 1980s."
Thanks to these computers, music became a kind of graphic game, according to which a good kick and snare - a short, heavy bass drum followed by a fierce high drum tone - are leading. "
Blokhuis is not surprised that Europeans, in particular Dutch people, have played a pioneering role in recent decades.
"Europeans are not good at exciting rhythms"
"I will probably get the entire dance scene, but I think that Europeans are just not that good at exciting rhythms. Dance is traditionally music with few influences from other music movements. It is a simple form of building rhythms. EDM is free straight forward, there is no backbeat. "
According to Blokhuis, Europeans are masters in the art of straightforward dance and are commercially successful.
Gert van Veen, house pioneer, musicologist and author of the ID&T book Release / Celebrate Life , does not share his opinion. He thinks there are other causes that have given the Netherlands a leading role in today's EDM dance scene.
Success generates success and imitation
"The gabber scene in the early nineties was perhaps the greatest musical trend ever and a typical Dutch phenomenon," he explains. "With that, a company like ID&T has grown. At the end of the nineties, their parties became a platform for other styles - such as trance - and DJs such as Tiësto and Armin. Success generates success and imitation."
According to Van Veen, another factor also played a major role in the development of the national dance scene.
"The Dutch know very well how to set up parties. Of course that was very important in the dance scene and it was also widely supported. Parties and festivals were created in every corner of the country, and that of course has made dance in the Netherlands grow. Nowhere There are so many festivals in the world as here. That is of course quite special for such a small country. "
The musicologist therefore thinks that the dance scene and electric music will definitely continue to grow.
The Dutch know very well how to set up a party. Nowhere else in the world are there so many festivals. (Photo: 123RF)
Not a new chapter, but a whole book
"Thirty years ago, everyone thought that dance was a trend that would blow over. Dance turned out not to be a new chapter in music history, but a whole book. I think the future looks bright. In the past, musicians had to really discover dance and now young people are growing. Musicians now learn a lot from each other and that only makes the scene bigger. "
Blokhuis also thinks that electronic music will only become more important and that pop music will also increasingly color.
"Dance and pop integrate on a large scale and that will only increase. DJs work with copywriters and singers to make their music more radio friendly. And vice versa. Just look at someone like Ed Sheeran. But it may well be that another response comes and it returns more to the basic dance corner. That is what makes electronic music so exciting. Everything is possible. "