House vs. Techno: The Differences Between the Two Genres

Electronic Techno Music Styles Word Cloud Bubble

House and Techno, two electronic dance music (EDM) genres that could sound similar to some people. However, there are differences between the two genres.

Some differences between House and Techno:

  • House is always 4/4, and Techno usually is.
  • Usually, the sound emphasis of House is on a bassline/melody/vocal, and for Techno on the percussions and using unconventional timbres.
  • Techno is more repetitive since it can take longer to change song elements.

This post will explain many (probably not all) similarities and differences between House and Techno. The information in this post comes from online references, and I filtered the information from these references with my knowledge.

Similarities and Differences Between House and Techno

The two EDM genres House and Techno, have similarities and differences, and the table below shows some of these.

This post explains the information in the table below in more detail in the sections under this table.

HouseTechno
place of originChicago, Illinois, United StatesDetroit, Michigan, United States
musical originsBoogie, Disco, Electro, Hi-NRG, Jazz, Latin soulChicago house, Detroit techno, Electro, Electronic body music, Eurobeat, Hi-NRG, House, Italo disco, New beat, Synth-pop
the first songJesse Saunders – On and OnModel 500 – No UFO’s
the year the first song released19841985
some well-known artistsBob Sinclar, Frankie Knuckles, Sebastian IngrossoAdam Beyer, Amelie Lens, Boris Brejcha
common temposrange: 115—130 BPMrange: 120—150 BPM
time signature, rhythm pattern4/4, four-on-the-floorusually 4/4, usually four-on-the-floor
rhythm emphasisSongs emphasize every beat with a bass drum hit and emphasizing the second and the fourth beat even more. The extra emphasis usually happens with a snare or clap hit on top of the bass drum hit.Usually, songs emphasize every beat with a bass drum hit. Some of these songs emphasize the second and the fourth beat even more. The extra emphasis usually happens with a snare or clap hit on top of the bass drum.
sound emphasisusually the most on a bassline/melody/vocalusually, the most on percussions and unconventional timbres
lengths of phrasesThe most common length of phrases is 8 bars. However, the same song can also have one or multiple phrases of 4 bars or 16 bars but are less common.The two most common lengths of phrases are 8 bars and 16 bars. However, the same song can also have one or multiple phrases of 4 bars or 32 bars but are less common.
structureUsually, a House song starts with an intro, followed by a breakdown with a build-up at the end, followed by a drop. After this drop follows a second breakdown with a build-up at the end, a second drop, and an outro.Usually, the song structure varies from song to song without using a conventional structure. However, the most common Techno song structure is the one that starts with an intro followed by a drop, a breakdown, a second drop, and an outro.
average song length5 minutes7 minutes

The Origins of House and Techno

According to Wikipedia, House comes from Chicago, Illinois, United States, and Techno comes from Detroit, Michigan, United States.

Wikipedia mentions that the musical origins of House are Boogie, Disco, Electro, Hi-NRG, Jazz, and soul. Wikipedia also shows that the musical origins of Techno are Chicago house, Detroit techno, Electro, Electronic body music, Eurobeat, Hi-NRG, House, Italo disco, New beat, Synth-pop (source: House music, Techno).

Wikipedia explains that some people have cited “On and On” by Jesse Saunders as the first House song ever, but there are also other songs that people have cited as the first House song ever, such as “Music is the Key” by J.M. Silk, from 1985. The YouTube video “Story of the first house record ever made” explains that “On and On” is the first house song ever, which I believe. Also, “On and On” is from 1984 (source: House music, Story of the first house record ever made, Jesse Saunders – On And On, Jesse Saunders ‎– On And On).

This website has a blog post about the first Techno song ever, for which I performed much research. According to that blog post, the first Techno song ever is “No UFO’s” by Model 500.

Some Well-Known House and Techno Artists

The DJ List has “The DJ List Ranking” lists with DJs, including House and Techno DJs. I believe that these lists are not always 100% correct, but they can still be useful.

In the list of House DJs, we can see DJs such as Bob Sinclar and Sebastian Ingrosso. In the Techno DJs list, we can see DJs such as Adam Beyer, Amelie Lens, and Boris Brejcha. However, on the “The best house music DJs of all time” page of Time Out, we can see another great House DJ, Frankie Knuckles, which is a personal favorite of mine (source: The DJ List Ranking (House), The DJ List Ranking (Techno), The best house music DJs of all time).

House and Techno Song Characteristics

The subsections below explain some similarities and differences between House and Techno song characteristics.

Common Tempos, Time Signatures, and Rhythm Patterns

This website has a blog post about the common tempos of EDM genres, for which I did much research. According to that blog post, House songs usually have a tempo within the 115—130 BPM range, and Techno songs usually have a tempo within the 120—150 BPM range.

House has a 4/4 time signature and a four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern. Techno usually (so not always) has a 4/4 time signature and a four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern (source: House music, Techno, Non 4/4 techno please).

For example, the Techno song “Talus” by Tommy Four Seven is not in the four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern. Another example, the Techno song “Your Mind” by Adam Beyer & Bart Skils, is four-on-the-floor. You can listen to both examples in this post below.

The Rhythm and Sound Emphasis of House and Techno

The rhythm emphasis in House songs is on every beat with a bass drum hit and emphasizing the second and the fourth beat even more. The extra emphasis usually happens with a snare or clap hit on top of the bass drum hit.

Usually, the rhythm emphasis in Techno songs is on every beat with a bass drum hit. Some of these songs emphasize the second and the fourth beat even more. The extra emphasis usually happens with a snare or clap hit on top of the bass drum (source: House music, Techno, How do you explain the difference between house music and techno?, Why does modern Techno have no clap on 2 & 4?, House vs Techno vs Trance Music – What are the Differences?).

For example, the Techno song “Your Mind” by Adam Beyer & Bart Skils does not emphasize the second and fourth beats with something extra. Another example, “Rave” by Sam Paganini, emphasizes the second and fourth beats with something extra. You can listen to both examples in this post below.

The sound emphasis of House songs is usually the most on a bassline/melody/vocal. The sound emphasis of Techno songs is usually the most on its percussions and unconventional timbres (source: What is the difference between techno and house music?, House vs Techno vs Trance Music – What are the Differences?, How do you explain the difference between house music and techno?).

The Lengths of Phrases in House and Techno Songs

For House songs, the most common length of phrases is 8 bars. However, the same song can also have one or multiple phrases of 4 bars or 16 bars but are less common (source: House music, House vs Techno vs Trance Music – What are the Differences?, How to arrange any song, How To Make House Music: The Complete Guide).

For Techno songs, the two most common lengths of phrases are 8 bars and 16 bars. However, the same song can also have one or multiple phrases of 4 bars or 32 bars but are less common (source: Arranging A Techno Track, How To Structure A Techno Track [+Template], How to arrange any song).

The Structure of House and Techno Songs

EDMProd described the most common House song structure of the Beatport top 100 in October 2015. That structure has a breakdown, followed by a drop, followed by a second breakdown, followed by a second drop (source: What I Learned from Analyzing the Top 100 Tracks on Beatport).

I believe (from experience) that the mentioned structure by EDMProd is the most common House song structure, not only in the Beatport top 100 of Oktober 2015. To give it more detail, I believe that both breakdowns of this song structure usually end with a build-up.

As also explained by EDMProd, there can be two versions of a House song, the ‘original mix’ and the ‘radio-friendly’ one. The radio-friendly one can be the same structure as the already mentioned structure of the Beatport top 100 in October 2015. The original mix version can be the same as the radio-friendly one, but with an added intro before and an added outro after the radio-friendly structure (source: How To Make House Music: The Complete Guide).

As far as I know, people sometimes name the original mix version as the ‘extended mix’ version. The difference between the extended mix version and the not extended mix version can be more different than the extra intro and outro. For example, the House song “Morenita” by HUGEL (ft. Cumbiafrica) does have an extended mix and a not extended mix, and you can listen to both versions below in this post.

EDMProd also described the most common Techno song structure of the Beatport top 100 in October 2015. That structure has a drop, followed by a breakdown, followed by a second drop (source: What I Learned from Analyzing the Top 100 Tracks on Beatport).

From my experience, I think the mentioned structure by EDMProd could be the most common Techno song structure, not only in the Beatport top 100 of Oktober 2015. I also think that the structure usually starts with an intro before the first drop and ends with an outro after the second drop. Moreover, I believe that the breakdown could have a build-up in it at the end, but having a build-up is not more common than not having a build-up in it.

I don’t know if there are original mixes and radio-friendly versions of Techno songs, which can be the case with House songs. However, there can be multiple versions in different lengths of the same Techno song. For example, the Techno song “I Wanna Go Bang” by Bjarki has at least two versions in different lengths, and you can listen to both versions below in this post.

The Song Lengths of House and Techno

As already mentioned, the song length can depend on the version of that song, such as that the ‘original mix’ is (probably always) longer than the ‘radio-friendly’ one.

EDMProd described the average House and Techno song lengths of the Beatport top 100 in October 2015. The average House song length is 5:09 minutes, and the average Techno song length is 6:51 minutes (source: What I Learned from Analyzing the Top 100 Tracks on Beatport).

Someone on Quora mentioned that House songs usually are 4 or 5 minutes long and that Techno songs usually are 6 or 8 minutes long (source: What is the difference between techno and house music?).

Combining the two sources with my experience, I think that the average House song length is 5 minutes and that the average Techno song length is 7 minutes.

House and Techno Examples

This section has some House and Techno song examples. This section also has a video around a minute long, which could help us hear the difference between House and Techno music.

A Techno song not in the four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern, “Tommy Four Seven – Talus (Primate).”

A Techno song in the four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern without an extra emphasis on the second and the fourth beat, “Adam Beyer & Bart Skils – Your Mind.”

A Techno song in the four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern with an extra emphasis on the second and the fourth beat, “Sam Paganini – Rave.”

Not the extended mix of the House song “HUGEL (ft. Cumbiafrica) – ‘Morenita.'”

The extended mix of the House song “HUGEL (ft. Cumbiafrica) – ‘Morenita.'”

Not the longest version of the Techno song “Bjarki – I Wanna Go Bang.”

Not the shortest version of the Techno song “Bjarki – I Wanna Go Bang.”

The House song “Nicky Romero – Toulouse.”

The CNN video “Techno or house: What’s the difference?” (the video is on a different site), which is around a minute long, could help us hear the difference between House and Techno music.

Closing Words

Hopefully, you have learned something from the explained similarities and differences between the two EDM genres House and Techno.

If you like this post, look at some other posts on this website since you might also like them.

When you know someone who likes to learn more about the similarities and differences between the two EDM genres House and Techno, you can share this post.

By Markus Kreukniet

Markus Kreukniet is an electronic dance music (EDM) producer and founder of Passion for EDM. He wants to share his EDM knowledge with the rest of the world. Read more about Markus Kreukniet

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *