Tech house is an electronic dance music (EDM) genre with a rich history, and its songs (tracks) have unique combined characteristics. What is the tech-house genre?
Tech house is a subgenre of house music. The typical tech house sound combines the typical sounds of the genres techno and house. Usually, tech house songs have a techno kick and bassline. Also, tech house songs usually have jazzy, soulful house elements and minimal dub elements.
This post gives an overview of the tech-house genre.
The Origins of Tech House
Tech house comes from the United States (mainly Detroit, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois) and Spain (mainly Ibiza) The musical origins of tech-house are house, techno, minimal techno, and deep house (source: Tech house).
I could not find what the first tech-house song ever is. Tech house started as an approach to DJing before it became a genre, the genre is somewhere between techno and house, and not all played tracks at tech-house parties are tech-house tracks (source: The Tech House Story, Beatport’s Definitive History of Tech House). Therefore, it can make sense that I could not find the first tech-house song.
Tech House Song Characteristics
Each tech-house track has some characteristics. However, a characteristic is not a requirement, so in this case, a song does not need to have all the tech-house characteristics to be a tech-house song.
Common Tempos of Tech House
This website has a blog post about the common tempos of EDM genres, for which I did much research. According to that blog post, tech house songs usually have a tempo around 125 BPM.
Time Signature and Rhythm Pattern of Tech House
Tech house songs have a 4/4 time signature (source: How to Talk to Your Kids About Tech House).
Tech house is a subgenre of the house genre. House has a four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern (source: Tech house, House music). Therefore, I believe that tech house songs also have a four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern, and I have only heard four-on-the-floor tech house songs.
The Rhythm Emphasis of Tech House
In tech house songs, the rhythm emphasis 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. Also, tech house songs emphasize the off-beat with a hi-hat (source: The Ultimate Guide to Drum Programming, Dirty Tech House, Twisted Tech House, Organic Tech-House, Chugging Tech-House, Naughty Tech-House, Deep Tech House).
Typical Tech House Sounds
The typical tech house sound combines the typical sounds of the genres techno and house. Usually, tech house songs have a techno kick and bassline, from minimal or deep techno music. Also, tech house songs usually have jazzy, soulful house elements and minimal dub elements.
Tech house has some overlap with progressive house, which can also have soulful, deep, and dub elements, and have elements from techno songs, especially after the year 2000, as progressive house songs became deeper and sometimes more minimal. For example, tech-house songs can have grooves and harmonies of progressive house songs. Tech house songs typically have less energy than progressive house songs.
Tech house can have a clean and minimal style, which it originally had, like the techno from Detroit and the UK.
Tech house songs have similar elements as house songs. However, the house ‘sound’ elements, such as booming kicks and deep house jazz sounds, are replaced with techno elements. These techno sounds could be shorter, darker, deeper, and usually distorted kicks, noisier snares, smaller, quicker hi-hats, more synthetic or acid-sounding melodies from the Roland TB-303, including raw electronic noises from distorted square wave and sawtooth oscillators.
Some producers, such as David Chambers, add soulful elements, such as vocals, and add equally as many raw electronic sounds (source: Tech house).
The Length of Phrases in Tech House Songs
A tech-house song’s common length of phrases is 4, 8, and 16 bars (source: PLP 081: How to Make a Tech House Track). However, I believe the most common phrase length is 8 bars since 8 bar phrases are common in house songs, and tech house is a subgenre of house (source: House music).
The Structure of Tech House 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 tech house song structure is BABCB (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 tech-house song is “Disconnected” by Tita Lau and James Hype, which also has 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 tech-house genre (source: Disconnected Extended Mix).
The Song Lengths of Tech House
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 tech house song length is 6:54 minutes, according to the analysis by EDMProd.
The History of Tech House
Tech house music has spread in Europe since the early 2000s. Artists such as Adam Beyer and Richie Hawtin pushed techno music in northern Europe, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Although tech house music stayed long in the shadow of techno music, in Spain, tech house is a massive success.
Thanks to some resident DJs of ROW14 (a box in Barcelona), such as Marc Maya, Oscar Aguilera, and Raul Mezcolanza, tech-house events can compete with other events of other genres. Such other events are the Monegros Desert Festival and the Awakenings Festival. DJs such as Carl Cox or Joris Voorn also promoted tech house music.
The genre tech-house is a popular form of dance music. As of September 2018, the Beatport top 100 has many songs by artists who incorporate tech-house elements into their work. Fisher, Green Velvet, Jamie Jones, Patrick Topping, and Solardo are such artists.
We can relate this tech-house music renewal to the popularity of analog synth sounds, the popularization of tech-house artists in the United States through labels such as Dirtybird, and the booking of tech-house DJs at festivals such as Coachella and CRSSD (source: Tech house).
Tech House Confused With Different Genres
Some people confuse the term ‘tech house’ for a newer technical form of progressive house.
The progressive house producer Guy J established the label ‘Lost & Found,’ which the producer did in 2012. This label introduced a more technical and atmospheric progressive house form than its traditional form.
The producers that made music in the traditional form might have taken inspiration from trance dance floor tunes and the instruments used to produce such tunes. The purpose of the music in the traditional form is more for listening pleasure rather than dancing.
Compared to the traditional form, the newer form of progressive house music from the ‘Lost & Found’ label had a few differences. The newer form:
- had long songs with a slightly slower tempo
- producers produced the music moodier and heavily
- was still uplifting and could go into melancholy and deep moodiness
- Had the music emphasized with the many use of multi-layered spacey synthesizers, soundscapes underpinned by deep baselines, and sound effects which could remind us of Vangelis-type science fiction soundtracks.
- Had songs that mainly were instrumental, very melodic, and often with chopped choral (male and female) vocal samples. The traditional form had more normal vocals or spoken word vocal samples, which the traditional deep house songs also had.
As the decade continued, the newer progressive house form became more popular in underground clubs. Many producers observed the ‘Lost & Found’ style in producing their highly technical tracks. By making these tracks, the producers formed their signature sound.
Besides Guy J, other leaders within this newer form are A.J. Roland, Andre Sobota, Black 8, Blusoul, Chris Cargo, Cornucopia, Sahar Z, GMJ, Juan Deminicis, Lemon8, Matter, Monojoke, Navar, and Volen Sentir. Cornucopia is a different recording tag of Guy J.
Labels besides ‘Lost & Found’ that specialize in this newer form are Balkan Connection, Dreaming Awake, Higher States, ICONYC, Or Two Strangers, Sound Avenue, Soundteller Records, and Tale & Tone.
The ‘Release Promo’ YouTube channel promotes much music from the newer form. This newer form is a popular house music genre.
We should also not confuse this newer form with the techno house genre. Some people named the techno house genre ‘tech house’ or ‘tech-prog’ because of the great musicianship of the producers who made songs for this genre (source: Tech house).
Some Well-Known Tech House 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.
The page “The DJ List Ranking” by The DJ List and the page “The Best Tech House Artists Of 2020” by Ranker both have a tech-house DJ list. We can see the DJs Solomun, Claude VonStroke, and Green Velvet in these lists.
I believe that the mentioned DJs are tech house DJs.
Tech House Song Examples
This section has some tech-house song examples.
The extended mix of the tech-house song “Disconnected” by James Hype & Tita Lau
The not extended mix of the tech-house song “Disconnected” by James Hype & Tita Lau
Posts That Have Something To Do With the Tech House Genre
This section mentions other posts that have something to do with the tech-house genre. In my opinion, I did a lot of research for these posts.
Some might say that the tech-house genre sounds similar to other EDM genres. This blog has some posts that compare the tech-house genre to other EDM genres, which are:
Hopefully, you have learned something about the tech-house EDM genre.
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