Celebrating World Techno Day Jump to main content

Celebrating World Techno Day

Wednesday 9 December marks World Techno Day, a celebration of this genre of electronic dance music. In this mini-blog, we explore the definition of techno, provide a playlist which features celebrated British techno artists, and highlight further resources where you can learn more.

What is techno?

The techno movement was born in Detroit in the 1980s and is considered to be an off-shoot of house music.

Generally speaking, house has more of a melodic line and can be categorised as being more 'soulful'. With its origins in Chicago in the late 1970s, house would use sampled music from gospel, disco, piano riffs and occasionally feature inspirational rap. Techno on the other hand has always been more percussive in nature, and at its core is a fast-paced complex drum beat that was originally achieved using drum machines and sequencers.

While both styles are usually in 4/4, techno will use a straight beat, whereas house will emphasise the 2nd and 4th beat. The beats per minute (bpm) are also a key consideration, where house will typically have a tempo range between 115-130bpm, techno can be faster at 120-140bpm. Later genres of electronic dance music such as drum and bass and jungle go even higher, with tempi between 155-185bpm.

The differences between techno and house are numerous, however today, sub-genres such as tech-house and trance have blurred the lines between the two.

Techno was considered a fusion of dance music with the avant-garde, futuristic sounds of groups like Kraftwerk. It is still regarded as intellectual and cerebral, with the sub-genre of ambient techno, which is designed be enjoyed outside of the club environment, also being known as 'intelligent dance music'.

Learn more


Lara Lee (1998) - Modulations: A cinema for the ear (YouTube)

A documentary film which charts the development of Electronic Dance Music in the late 20th century

Red Bull history & evolution of techno (videos)

A series of videos charting the origins of techno through to the sub-genres it inspired and the rise of the German techno scene.


'Make techno black again': a social experiment subverts whitewashing in clubs (Guardian)

An article which examines the disconnect between contemporary techno music and its origins in black neighbourhoods in America.

Top 6 Studies on Techno Music (DJbroadcast.net)

A summary of six scholarly papers on techno music, looking at tribalism, rave culture, drug culture, and techno as music therapy.

Spotify playlist

Curated by the ISM team, this playlist features tracks from British techno artists across the decades.

Access on Spotify