Ishkur's legendary guide to electronic music updated

Originally published at:




Well, there goes my day!


This chart is pretty awesome, but I feel like there are some missing links. So, I’m going to be that guy for a minute…

It would be hard to overstate Kraftwerk’s influence on electronic music. It doesn’t seem to be as well known as it used to be, but Kraftwerk blazed musical paths mixing electronic music with pop sensibilities that we don’t even think about today, but were revelatory at the time. During its heyday, it seemed like every new Kraftwerk track was verging on spawning a whole new genre of electronic music.

So, given that Kraftwerk started as a Krautrock/experimental band, I would make a case for linking Krautrock as a progenitor to and/or major influencer of many of the genres shown in the chart, including Hip Hop, Electro, Techno (certainly Detroit Techno), House, Garage, Europop, and many others as well.


This is very impressive, though my personal definition of electronic music is much broader than what’s presented here. I believe music counts as electronic if at least some of the music is made using an electronic instrument (so anything with the Hammond tonewheel organ would fall under this definition) or if the music includes manipulation of audio using electronics.

I think this timeline was made from the perspective of someone more into EDM than Bitches Brew, and I respect that perspective, but I don’t find it at all comprehensive. Ultimately, I consider “electronic music” to refer to technologies and techniques, not genres.

For example, “Strawberry Fields Forever” was made using electronic music techniques (tape manipulation) and technologies (the Mellotron), but there is no place in this chart for that song.

And where in this chart would Eno-era Roxy Music go? Or any pre-ambient Eno? And how on earth did prog rock not get included? Does Simon & Garfunkel’s “Save the life of my child” just fall under “Moog music” just because Bob Moog plays the Moog on that track? (and since when was Moog a genre? and if it is, why isn’t Buchla a genre too?)

And ffs, there’s no place for Radiohead in this chart! Are you telling me Kid A isn’t electronic music?

Ugh, I started this post quite calm, but got increasingly irked by what’s missing from the chart. The internet is a dangerous drug. And this “legendary guide” needs more updating!


Cool, but I kinda like how his old one listed more acts to get more of an idea of a genre, IIRC. Not sure where Grendel would lie. I call it Harsh EBM, but maybe someone would call it Aggrotech. Is Combichrist just pure EBM? Is it only me, or why is Eurodance so far from Techno and the like? IMO the saccharine sweet europop dance is derivative of rave and techno, emerging from remixes.

And like nothing should emerge out of nothing. Hip Hop didn’t just appear. As this guy said:

While I never quite got into them, you’re totally right. There definitely is direct thread from Kraftwerk, to hip hop, to techno and rave. (not this isn’t to say that Hip Hop owes its creation to just Kraftwerk. It is derivative of several things. But it was a huge influence. (As we all saw in Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree.)

Still - it’s impressive and music nerds will always argue the nuances. While I have eclectic tastes, Electronica of one kind or another dominates it.

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Came looking to make sure Kruder and Dorfmeister were on the list.

Leaving satisfied.


Not the best rabbit-hole to find at the beginning of a workday with a lot of work to do.
…what to do, what to do… :smirk:

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I’m sure most people at a club wouldn’t notice that the DJ was mixing up one style of House with another, nor would they care. “Did you hear that? They went from Chicago House right into Euro and then into Deep!” Sonically a lot of the sub-genres exist more for nerds to stroke their chins.

As you say, the timeline is from the perspective of EDM/techno/hip-hop and really focuses on those genres. Radiohead, new wave, 60s psychedelia, prog rock – they all absolutely use electronic musical instruments to make their music, but they really need a completely separate and rather gigantic branch from this entire chart, branching out somewhere in the late 50s. That’d almost be its own project all by itself (or just go to the above-linked every noise at once site). Ishkur’s chart is more about the evolution of EDM micro-genres.

Moog has its own festival, so I think it’s fair to call it a genre.

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(Delia Derbyshire content; though possibly NSFW)


A little disappointed by the treatment of vaporwave, aparently it is just a technique for making goth-y darkwave music? What am I supposed to make of this then ?

But that’s a festival devoted to a company’s instruments, not to a specific type of music. I disagree that having a festival named after and hosted by an instrument manufacturer is grounds for naming a genre after that instrument manufacturer. As a Moog owner, I really object to the idea of “Moog” being a genre defined (by Ishkur) as “music made with Moog. It’s also music made by Moog. And it’s the only music named after Moog”: the music I make with my Moog isn’t “Moog” (and “Save the life of my child” isn’t “Moog” either, despite Bob Moog using the Moog on it). It’s like calling “Fender” a genre. But if it really must be considered a genre, then Buchla must be one too. Them’s the rules!

Anyway, as someone who makes electronic music that isn’t EDM, I feel left out by this chart that claims to represent all electronic music, but omits a good number of my influences, :cry:

Don’t feel left out, this chart is just a sliver. Im attending the SF Electronic Music Festival next month and not a single one of the 12 acts would fit on this list, nor would just about any that have ever played the SF EMF.


I think it’s great. Do I need a directory tree to understand where Tom Dissevelt & Kid Baltan, The United States of America, Gershon Kingsley, or Dick Hyman land? No. Do I need a directory tree to encapsulate all of the times that pop music has pillaged electronic dance music for ideas? No. Do I need a directory tree to make sense of the latest umpteenth iteration of what used to be called Jungle? Absolutely.

Like I always say, “What the hell happened to Illbient?”


Illbient is still being made. Ben Frost, Lakker, Emptyset, Nurse With Wound, Demdike Stare, Blanck Mass, Lotic, Amnesia Scanner, Belief Defect, etc.

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Even for a list that lags behind by about a decade, that this is missing grime is a serious omission.


As a rule I dismiss this kind of overdetermined taxonomy as counterproductive masturbation.* But then, we’re talking about electronic music here, so that would be a weird criticism. (I say this affectionately).

* Who doesn’t love a record store with more filing categories than actual records?

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Not to mention New Orleans bounce!