Techno (Detroit House Music, Detroit Techno) is one of the earliest form of music utilizing purely electronic instrumentation, originating from Detroit. It was preceded by Chicago House. In its inception, Techno was referred to as Detroit House. The genre came into being in the early 80s with the initial musical experimentation of Juan Atkins("Godfather of Techno") and later Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson--the Belleville Three and the unofficial member Eddie Fowlkes. The term Techno comes from Alvin Toffler book "Future Shock" out of the phrase "techno rebels." The term Techno stuck to the genre with Juan Atkins composition "the techno sound of Detroit." Today, the genre has transcended its Detroit roots into a global phenomena. Techno has morphed into numerous styles such as Dutch Gabba, Jungle, Hip-Hop Techno, Reggae Techno, Happy Hardcore, Trance, Rave. The biggest influence on the genre was Chicago Dj Electrifying Mojo, who exposed Atkins to a variety of sounds including electronic music, Kraftwerk, German pioneers in electronic music and instrumentation, and Parliament Funkadelic.


Techno comes out of the economic and industrial decay of Detroit. Juan Atkins grew up all over Detroit. His family later moved to the Detroit suburbs of Belleville, where he befriended Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, a native New Yorker. Juan Atkins musical interest began in the late 70s, with the birthing of and spread of FM station playing a variety of music and loose formats. Electrifying Mojo on WGPR FM 197.5 proved the most influential on Juan Atkins in exposing him to a universe of diverse music, particularly electronic music. Music played by Electrifying Mojo included the  Parliament Funkadelic, Kraftwerk, B52s, Cameo, Weather Report, Ultravox, Prince and the Minneapolis Sound etc.

With the advent of cheap synthesizers and drum machine in the early 80s, Juan created makeshift studios in his home. By early 80s, his musical ideas became manifest with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson developing their own styles and expanding on their own musical concept. Techno began to spread among the underground club scene in Detroit. Eventually, a club called the Institute was formed by the Belleville Three dedicated to Techno. Between 1986-1987, Techno began to reach the Chicago market and later Europe, first in London and the UK, Germany, and Netherlands. 


Techno in its most basic form utilizes 4 beats("four on the floor"), a tick via the high hat, break beats from old records, which is then looped. It utilizes staples of electronic music--synthesizers(dx100), drum machines(808 and 909 drum machines), multi-tracking, and sequencers. Techno may or may not have lyrics, most composition are lyric free. Juan and early Dj Rich Davis developed a kind of techno vocabulary called technospeak. When there is singing, rapping, or talking, it is minimal and repetitive. 

Techno is meant to be performed live. The DJ is the performer. He tries to achieve improvisation and keeping the audience on the dance floor moving. Multi-tracking and sequencer are critical in achieving a constant mix and improvisation. Techno Djs can achieve cultic and superstar status, making thousands of dollars in one night.

Related Articles: Disco , Funk