Rave music

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Rave music may either refer to the late 1980s/early 1990s genres of house, breakbeat, acid house, techno and hardcore techno, which were the first genres of music to be played at rave parties, or to any other genre of electronic dance music (EDM) that may be played at a rave. The genre "rave", also known as hardcore by early ravers, first appeared amongst the UK "acid" movement during the late 1980s at warehouse parties and other underground venues, as well as on UK pirate radio stations.[1] The genre would develop into oldschool hardcore, which lead onto newer forms of rave music such as drum and bass and 2-step, as well as other hardcore techno genres, such as gabber, hardstyle and happy hardcore. Rave music is usually presented in a DJ mix set, although live performances are not uncommon.

Rave culture[edit]

Type of DIY party
Free party / Squat Party Teknival
Freetekno Sound System
Music Played at the Parties
Also see Rave music
free tekno - drum and bass - drumstep - hardstyle - dubstyle - gabba - moombahcore - raggacore - jungle - industrial hardcore - breakbeat hardcore - breakcore - speedcore - aggrotech - hardbag - goa trance - bouncy techno - mákina - techno and trance
Famous Parties
Castlemorton Common Festival - CzechTek - Windsor Free Festival - Stonehenge Free Festival - Reclaim the Streets

The rave scene was associated with illegal club drugs. Rave music is created to accompany recreational drug use, specifically to heighten the effects of ecstasy, the common name for MDMA.[2] The use of illegal drugs and the rave scene's use of secret dance parties set up in empty warehouses and hangars attracted the attention of law enforcement in various countries, and in some countries laws were passed prohibiting certain rave events.[3] Ecstasy is a result of when various factors harmonize the ego with the other elements such as place and music and you enter in a “one state” where we cannot distinguish what is material or not, where things enter into syntony and constitute a unique moment, precisely the kind sought in mediation. [4]

In the mid-to-late 1980s, the first "raves" were born, being the name for House and Techno music parties in Chicago and Detroit, with a smaller underground scene in New York City. Later in the decade, after American-invented rave culture and electronic music began receiving more mainstream attention in the United Kingdom, culture began to filter through from English expatriates and disc jockeys who would visit Continental Europe from the United States. However, rave culture's arrival in mainstream American pop culture is often credited to American DJ Frankie Bones, who after spinning a party in an aircraft hangar in England helped organize some of the earliest known commercial American raves in the 1990s in New York City called "Storm Raves" which maintained a consistent core audience. Hundreds of smaller promotional groups sprung up across the East Coast, causing a true "scene" to develop. As the rave scene expanded promoters marketed their events with specialized music aiming to attract adherents of a particular subgenre.[3] In Australia, a trend towards outdoor dance parties or doofs developed.

House music[edit]

House music, especially acid house, is the first genre of music to be played at the earliest raves (Second Summer of Love). House is a genre of electronic dance music that originated out of the African American and Latino 1980s disco scene in Chicago. House music uses a constant bass drum on every beat, electronic drum machine hi-hats and synth basslines. There are many subgenres of house music (found below). Since house was originally club music, there are many forms of it, some more appropriate to be played at raves than others. In the UK, subgenres such as UK funky, speed garage and dubstep emerged from garage house. Many "pop house" club music producers branded themselves as "house music", however, so in rave culture it is often disputed whether pop house should be considered as a subgenre of house.

"Rave house" is a subgenre label of house music that originated from the styles of house that were typically played in the rave scene of the 1993-1999 period. It is a term used by the general population who do not follow the house or trance scene specifically, but identify certain house records as "rave music". It is a loose term that generally identifies progressive house, hard house or trance house styles (often instrumental with no words) that one would imagine being played at a large rave.


Trance music in its most popular and modern form is an offshoot of house music that originated from the acid house movement and rave scene in the late 1980s. The history of trance music is complicated to refer to, as multiple generations of listeners and musicians have influenced the genre. The term "trance" was (and still to this day by many) used interchangeably with "progressive house" in the early rave years (1990–1994).


Breakbeat music (or breaks for short) refers to any form of rave music with breakbeats, this may range from breakbeat hardcore and nu skool breaks to drum and bass, some genres such as hardstep and breakcore cross over into the hardcore techno sound. Fusions of house and trance also exist but the drum 'n' bass still remains the most popular form of breakbeat played at rave parties.


Electro music refers to electro and techno, these two genres largely featured psychedelic sounds and are largely considered the earliest forms of electronic dance music genres to use the term "rave music". Techno sometimes crosses boundaries with house music, hence the genres trance and acid techno. Miami bass and crunk is sometimes included as "electro".

Hardcore techno[edit]

Hardcore techno refers to any hard dance genre that was influenced by the rave genre, usually these genres have a distorted kick drum, and a 4/4 rhythm. Happy hardcore blended the Dutch hardcore sound with Eurodance and bubblegum pop, the genre (also known as "happycore" for short) featured pitched-up vocals and a less distorted 4/4 beat. Trancecore also exists and is a less vocal fusion of happy hardcore with trance music, however hardstyle is a more pure form of the trance/hardcore genre since it retains the hardcore sound.

Industrial dance[edit]

Industrial is a goth/rock/punk related genre. While the genre is not usually considered rave music in itself, it is often fused with rave music genres. Industrial is the origin of many sounds found in rave music; it is one of the first genres that took the sounds that are now popular in rave music such as "acid" as its musical backdrop. Industrial music fans are usually considered rivetheads and do not tend to call themselves ravers.

A typical sound system

Free party music[edit]

This style of electronic music started in the early 1990s and was mostly played in illegal parties hosted by Sound System, such as Spiral Tribe, Desert Storm, Hekate, Heretik, in warehouse, dismissed buildings, or even illegal open air festivals, called "Teknivals". It takes inspiration from various other genres, and mainly focuses on quick beats, 170/200 bpm, acid bassline, mentals sounds, and often samples taken from movies, popular songs or many other different media sources.

List of genres[edit]

The Roland TB-303 is a synthesizer featured in Acid house music

Rave has been described as the defining sound of rave music. The style has developed into a series of subgenres including Breakbeat Rave, Techno-Rave, Hard Techno, Acid Rave, Gabber, Speedcore, Happy Rave, Hardcore and Happy Hardcore. The following list of genres are closely associated with raves and can be described as rave music.

Downtempo and less dance oriented styles which are sometimes called chill out music, that might be heard in a rave "chill-out" room or at a rave that plays slower electronic music includes:

Notable Rave Artists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ AllMusic
  2. ^ Robinson, Roxy (2016). Music Festivals and the Politics of Participation. Routledge. p. 33. ISBN 131709199X. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b Shepherd, John (2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: Performance and production. Volume II. A&C Black. pp. 334–335. ISBN 0826463215. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music http://techno.org/electronic-music-guide/
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i http://www.allmusic.com/subgenre/rave-ma0000004480/artists

Further reading[edit]

  • Matos, Michaelangelo: The Underground Is Massive New York: HarperCollins Publishing, 2015
  • Bennett Andy, Peterson Richard A.: Music Scenes: Local, Translocal and Virtual. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2004
  • Reynolds, Simon: Generation Ecstasy: into the world of techno and rave culture Routledge, New York 1999.
  • Lang, Morgan: Futuresound: Techno Music and Mediation University of Washington, Seattle, 1996.

External links[edit]

Media related to Rave at Wikimedia Commons