Intelligent Dance Music?

Posted on 17 May, 2007. Filed under: braindance, Dance music, DJ, Electro, Electronic art music, Electronic Music, Electronic Music Artists / DJs, Electronic Music Genres, Electronica, experimental, glitch, IDM, intelligent dance music, minimal, Music, Music Genre, Techno | Tags: , , , , , |

Who coined the term “Intelligent Dance Music”?
(sidenote: and what do coins have to do with words?!)

Personally, I think it’s a bit of a misrepresentation of the style.

“Intelligent dance music (commonly known as IDM) is a genre of electronic music derived from dance music of the 1980s and early 1990s which puts an emphasis on novel processing and sequencing. Music referred to as IDM is generally abstract, and may range from soft ambient textures to more abrasive noise.”

What is the “intelligent” part referring to? I’ve seen one definition of it saying that it’s music that moves not only the body, but the mind too. I’ve also read within a sentence of that quote that IDM is “typically, very difficult to dance to”. So it doesn’t move the body, but it does the mind?

This style of music is often very difficult to process by mainstream listeners. I know the first time I heard Aphex Twin, I was kinda freaked out. And Bjork (both of whom were once or are placed within the genre of IDM).

Actually, I think I just answered my own question.
If we look back over the artists who were placed within the IDM genre, you see that alot of them pioneered new styles and/or techniques in the electronic field.

Also, the term ‘mainstream’ usually refers to something that appeals to the lowest common social denominator, so it makes sense that ‘mainstream’ listeners would find it difficult to listen to.

I liked this quote…

“A loaded term meant to distinguish electronic music of the ’90s and later that’s equally comfortable on the dancefloor as in the living room, IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) eventually acquired a good deal of negative publicity, not least among the legion of dance producers and fans whose exclusion from the community prompted the question of whether they produced stupid dance music.” — All Music Guide

Alot of the IDM I’ve heard over time has been quite ‘avant-garde’ – something new and a little… out there? Maybe the original IDM-ers used the term IDM as a protection when first releasing their music to the electronic massive.

“Man, that’s some warped, mixed up sheet right there.”
“Nah man, that’s Intelligent Dance Music.”
“Oh, then that was well wikkid brah!”

“As the idiom developed, the music became more and more about the novelty of certain sounds and treatments, ridiculously trivial aspects like tempo and choice of samples, and the public personae of the makers. It became a race to novelty. I find that kind of evolution beneath triviality. It is a decorative, not substantive, evolution.” — Journalist and Electrical Audio recording engineer Steve Albini

IDM has also been referred to as “Braindance”, and I think that kind of fits the style more. Or maybe “Brainseizure”.

But then again, it could just all be down to marketing.

“I hate IDM and its elitist champions. It makes the music sound so much more than it actually is. It’s a label invented by PR companies who need catchphrases. I like sounds, but hate what people attach to sounds.” — Kid 606


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6 Responses to “Intelligent Dance Music?”

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i agree with kid 606. alot of these genre names came from critics and journalists who i guess feel a need to categorise everything. i’m pretty sure IDM started off as being just DM, but then the likes of bjork and aphex twin came out and they couldnt quite locate a plot for them comfortably as they didnt quite belong anywhere. the sad thing is that once the IDM label stuck, it became a style in itself and gets elitist with IDM-ers turning into the likes of jazz purists, which is rather ironic πŸ˜›

same thing is going on amongst hiphop producers, you have the “purists” who will only sample, and then you have the others who synthesize everything, when hiphop was about making do with what you had.

could you say classical music suffers from the same thing? i mean classical surely was contemporary before it was classed as classical πŸ˜› but i doubt that younger classical composers today would even dream of incorporating a sampler or a pc into the mix. and if they did theyd be condemed to being the second coming of vanessa mae πŸ˜›

i think its basically come down to a thing where its literally become a badge…. no i dont make house/trance/etc, i make IDM [cue nose in the air], when its really just the dudes cat screaming to a two step beat.

pardon the going off on a bit of a tanget there πŸ˜›

yeaaaa kid606, the behemoth and realest mafcuka out. i also agree with him, as fancy glitches and pops are but mere bling and decoration over what should be a structural form of music that has evolved over thousands of years.

most IDM is like listening to a neverending guitar solo. if your musical wisdom is limited, you can never hide it no matter how many amen breaks you chop up.

Neither Aphex or Bjork are considered IDM. IDM is a style of music that was named to be distinguished from EBM. The main differences between EBM and IDM are:
1. Beat speed: IDM is never more than 130bpm whilst EBM can go up to 145bpm
2. The use of evolving drum kit sections opposed to the 4/4 snare on 2 of EBM
3. Subtle variations opposed to in your face textures, riffs, etc

KID606 is absolutely right about what he says. But why did he recently say that we was not doing breakcore but breakbeat? πŸ˜‰

I agree that is starting to need a bloody dictionary to go out and buy a record today. A recent test made in a german music record store got two employees putting the same record collection in the store and they only choose the same category for 3 records, out of 50.

So, maybe what is IDM for me is Electro for you and EBM for someone else. Or maybe we just don’t give a damn about it and just enjoy music and respect other’s tastes and opinions and discover new things, sounds, textures, experiences and feelings while doing that.

Just my two cents.

IDM is a more abstract version of EBM, and less dancey more breakdowns.

I think IDM is one of those genres that’s “in the ear of the beholder”. I’ve read in quite a few magazines (albeit old ones) and other blogs that Bjork and Aphex Twin have at some stage in their careers been classified IDM.

But yeah, I think you guys are right. The technical definitions of these styles are pretty vague (at this stage). And as long as we enjoy it, that’s all that really counts.

Just a quick note:
Alot of the stuff you guys have been posting here has been really insightful. As such, I’d like to be able to add it to my main definitions pages. I’ll credit you all, but if any of you have any problemo’s with it, please let me know. No wokkas!

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