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

House music comes from Chicago, Illinois, United States. The musical origins of house music are Boogie, Disco, Electro, Hi-NRG, Jazz, and Latin soul (source: House music).

Techno comes from Detroit, Michigan, United States. 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: Techno).

This website has a blog post about the first house song ever, for which I performed much research. According to that blog post, the first house song is “On and On” by Jesse Saunders, released in 1984.

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 is “No UFO’s” by Model 500, released in 1985.

Some Well-Known House and Techno Artists

There are multiple DJ lists, such as the “The DJ List Ranking,” and I believe these lists are not always 100% correct, but they can still be useful.

On the “The DJ List Ranking” page of The DJ List, we can see house DJs such as Bob Sinclar and Sebastian Ingrosso. The “The best house music DJs of all time” page of Time Out can show us another great house DJ, Frankie Knuckles, my personal favorite.

The page “The DJ List Ranking” by The DJ List shows us techno DJs such as Adam Beyer, Amelie Lens, and Boris Brejcha.

House and Techno Song Characteristics

The subsections below explain the similarities and differences between house and techno song characteristics.

Common Tempos of House and Techno

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.

Time Signatures of House and Techno

House has a 4/4 time signature (source: House music).

Techno usually (so not always) has a 4/4 time signature (source: Techno, Non 4/4 techno please).

Rhythm Patterns of House and Techno

House has a four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern (source: House music, Books, Is it house? Or is it trance? A beginner’s guide to electronic music genres).

Techno songs usually (so not always) have a four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern (source: 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 (source: Non 4/4 techno please). 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 (source: Your Mind Original Mix).

The Rhythm Emphasis of House and Techno

The rhythm emphasis in a house song 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. Also, house songs emphasize the off-beat with a hi-hat usually (source: House music, How do you explain the difference between house music and techno?, House vs Techno vs Trance Music – What are the Differences?).

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 hit. Also, techno songs usually emphasize the off-beat with a hi-hat (source: 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 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.

Both songs are part of the techno genre (source: Your Mind Original Mix, Rave Original Mix).

The Sound Emphasis of House and Techno

The sound emphasis of house songs is usually on a bassline/drums/synthesizer riff/vocal (source: House music, House vs Techno vs Trance Music – What are the Differences?, Is it house? Or is it trance? A beginner’s guide to electronic music genres, Books).

The sound emphasis of techno songs is usually on percussions and unconventional timbres (source: What is the difference between techno and house music?, House vs Techno vs Trance Music – What are the Differences?).

The Lengths of Phrases in House and Techno Songs

The most common length of phrases for house songs 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, How To Make House Music: The Complete Guide, House vs Techno vs Trance Music – What are the Differences?).

The two most common lengths of phrases for techno songs 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 analyzed the songs in the Beatport top 100. According to the analysis, in October 2015, EDMProd shared the most found song structures.

EDMProd described each of these song structures with a sequence of letters. Each of these letters is a section type of a song structure. The section types of these letters are:

  • A: verse, breakdown, build-up, or alternative section
  • B: chorus or drop
  • C: bridge, main breakdown, or musically different section

According to the analysis, the most common house song structure is ABAB, which EDMProd only found once more than the house structure ABCB. Also, the analysis shows us that the most common techno song structure is BCB (source: What I Learned from Analyzing the Top 100 Tracks on Beatport).

I believe (from experience) that the meaning of the mentioned section-type letters for the song structures can be simpler. The simpler meaning of the section type letters could be:

  • A: breakdown
  • B: drop
  • C: main breakdown (the longest breakdown)

To give the structures more detail, I think the breakdowns in these song structures usually end with a build-up. I also believe that the mentioned song structures by EDMProd are the most common ones, not only of the analyzed songs.

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.

An example with a house song is “Morenita” by HUGEL (ft. Cumbiafrica), which does have an extended mix and a not extended mix, and you can listen to both versions below in this post. This song is part of the house genre (source: Morenita feat. Cumbiafrica Extended Mix).

There can be multiple versions in different lengths of the same techno song. For example, the 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 “I Wanna Go Bang” is part of the techno genre (source: I Wanna Go Bang Original Mix).

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’ or ‘extended mix’ is (probably always) longer than the ‘radio edit’ one.

EDMProd analyzed the Beatport top 100 in October 2015 and found the average song length of multiple genres (source: What I Learned from Analyzing the Top 100 Tracks on Beatport).

The average house song length is 5:09 minutes, according to the analysis by EDMProd. Someone on Quora mentioned that House songs usually are 4 or 5 minutes long (source: What is the difference between techno and house music?). Combining the two sources with my experience, I think the average House song length is 5 minutes.

The average techno song length is 6:51 minutes, according to the analysis by EDMProd.

Someone on Quora mentioned 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 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.

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

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

The House song “Nicky Romero – Toulouse.”

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrvbYkcjUXI

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.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU6z-pPEmY0

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.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWuDiwr30SI

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT2fxAMPRYs

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvEdwl88J2U

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.

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