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Intelligent dance music

IDM, short for intelligent dance music is an electronic music genre which began as a style of techno in the early 1990s. As compared to the driving, pounding, sound of techno aimed at the dancefloor, IDM aims for the head, being a bit slower, more melodic, less aggressive, and more artistic, quirky and improvisational. It is sometimes informally called intelligent techno, listening techno or art techno.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Sound production in IDM
3 Other notable IDM artists
4 See also
5 External Links


The initials IDM appeared in music magazines during the genre's first wave in 1992-1993, but didn't really stick until the formation of the IDM mailing list, an email forum, on the Internet in August 1993. At that time, the list's focus was on the progressive electronic music of Richard D. James, Autechre and other artists featured on the influential Warp label's Artificial Intelligence compilations. Among these artists were Black Dog Productions (members of which became Plaid) and B12/Redcell.

The term "intelligent dance music" is often criticized for not being an actual description of the music genre. Whether or not intelligence or dancing are involved in particular, the name was apparently more memorable than other competing phrases (see: memetic replicator). This is probably due in large part to the high volume of the aforementioned IDM mailing list. Detractors of the phrase, have occasionally used the term "dolphin music" as a disparaging alternative to "intelligent".

Lesser-known, but equally influential and highly regarded today, are the artists that were on Kirk Degiorgio's A.R.T. and Op-Art labels, and the Likemind label, including Degiorgio himself under various names (As One, Future/Past, Esoterik), Steve Pickton (Stasis), and Nurmad Jusat (Nuron).

Although all of the above artists hail from England, the progressive techno / ambient / IDM duo Sun Electric from Berlin are also early pioneers of the genre.

After experiencing somewhat of a lull in the mid-1990s, IDM experienced a resurgence in the early 2000s, with an increasingly diverse array of styles being combined in innovative ways by a growing stable of artists. According to its proponents, IDM represents the most forward-thinking, experimental arm of techno, taking electronic music in entirely new directions, not just merging affectations of more "highbrow", established forms of music with dance rhythms.

Sound production in IDM

The main characteristics of so called "intelligent dance music" is the high resolution of sound, and precise control by the composer in arranging the units that compose this resolution. Complex sounds such as those produced at a building construction site stored in an audio file format would not be considered IDM. This is because although the sound has high detailed resolution, there is a lack of control in the arrangement of the sound units by a composer. The opposite situtation, having a high level of control, but with low resolution units cannot produce a composition characteristic of IDM. For example, if a composer has freedom to arrange only two types of identical sound units (say cymbals and drums) into only 4 evenly spaced placeholders in time, the possible combinations are too limited to produce music characteristic of IDM.

Currently, it is common to use computers to be able control a large amount of complex musical detail. This is because computers organize information in a hierarchy of functional abstraction (see the book The Pattern on the Stone by W. Daniel Hillis for a description of functional abstraction). IDM is usually recorded into computer related data storage, given that it is too complex to be stored in a human brain or even in written form with high fidelity.

Other notable IDM artists

See also

External Links