Techno vs. Tech House: The Differences Between the Two Genres

Electronic Techno Music Styles Word Cloud Bubble

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

Some differences between techno and tech-house:

  • Tech house is always 4/4, and techno usually is.
  • Usually, the sound emphasis of techno is on percussions and unconventional timbres, and of tech house, it is a combination of the sound emphasis of the genres techno and house.

This post will explain many (probably not all) similarities and differences between techno and tech-house. The information in this post comes from online references, and I filtered that information with my knowledge.

The Differences Between Techno and Tech House

The EDM genres techno and tech house 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.

technotech house
place of originDetroit, Michigan, United StatesUnited States (mainly Detroit, Michigan) and Spain (mainly Ibiza)
musical originsChicago house, Detroit techno, electro, electronic body music, Eurobeat, hi-NRG, house, Italo disco, new beat, synth-pophouse, techno, minimal techno, and deep house
first songModel 500 – No UFO’sunknown
year the first song released1985unknown
some well-known artistsAdam Beyer, Amelie Lens, Boris BrejchaSolomun, Claude VonStroke, and Green Velvet
common temposrange: 120—150 BPMaround 125 BPM
time signature, rhythm patternusually 4/4, usually four-on-the-floor4/4, four-on-the-floor
rhythm emphasisUsually, techno 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 hit. Also, techno songs usually emphasize the off-beat with a hi-hat.Tech house songs 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. Also, tech house songs emphasize the off-beat with a hi-hat.
sound emphasisusually on percussions and unconventional timbresUsually is a combination of the sound emphasis 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.
length of phrasesThe 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.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.
structureUsually, the song structure varies from song to song without using a conventional structure. However, the most common techno song structure has the following parts in this order: intro, drop, the main breakdown, drop, outro.A common tech house song structure has the following parts in this order: intro, drop, breakdown, drop, the main breakdown, drop, outro.
average song length7 minutes6:54 minutes

The Origins of Techno and Tech House

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).

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).

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.

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.

Some Well-Known Techno and 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 shows us techno DJs such as Adam Beyer, Amelie Lens, and Boris Brejcha.

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 techno and tech-house DJs.

Techno and Tech House Song Characteristics

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

Common Tempos of Techno and 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, techno songs usually have a tempo within the 120—150 BPM range, and tech house songs usually have a tempo around 125 BPM.

Time Signatures of Techno and Tech House

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

Tech house songs have a 4/4 time signature (source: How to Talk to Your Kids About Tech House).

Rhythm Patterns of Techno and Tech House

Songs can be completely or partly in a non 4/4 time signature. These songs or song parts can’t have a four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern (source: Four on the floor (music)).

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).

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 Techno and Tech House

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).

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).

The Sound Emphasis of Techno and Tech House

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 sound emphasis of tech house songs is usually a combination of the sound emphasis 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 Lengths of Phrases in Techno and Tech House Songs

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).

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 Techno and 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 techno song structure is BCB, and 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.

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).

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 Techno and 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 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.

The average tech house song length is 6:54 minutes, according to the analysis by EDMProd.

Techno and Tech House Song Examples

This section has some techno and tech-house song examples.

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 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

Closing Words

Hopefully, you have learned something from the explained similarities and differences between the two EDM genres, techno and tech-house.

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

You can share this post when you know someone who likes to learn more about the similarities and differences between the two EDM genres, techno and tech-house.

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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