The History of EDM: Disco

History of EDM - Disco Ball

If you want to know about EDM, you have to start at the beginning. And that means disco. Without disco, there would be no EDM. This is the history of EDM: disco.

When disco started, it was a counter culture movement. Everywhere you went in the 60’s and early 70’s it was rock, rock and more rock. But in 1969, Gershon Kingsley released the song “Popcorn”, the first real “dance” song. Suddenly people started to think about music differently.

Unlike rock music, disco was purely about the packing the dance floor and getting people moving.


As a result, disco became hugely popular, and in a few years what had started as a reaction against the mainstream became the mainstream.

In the late 70’s, synthetic sounds started to make their way into disco. Studio and sound engineers with enough money started investing in new equipment, including the very first MOOG synths and drum machines.


In 1977 Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer released the song, “I Feel Love,” the first song with no traditional instruments.

Like a star that shone too bright, disco started to burn out in the  late 70’s and early 80’s . You’ve probably seen those shirts that say “Disco Sucks?” Disco became so popular that there was a huge backlash, especially amongst rock fans. Most major labels found it wasn’t profitable and stopped paying attention to it.


What was left were a small number of cool people who kept the vibe going,  experimenting with new electronic sounds. While these post-disco tunes didn’t get much in the way of radio play, they were big in the clubs. A trend that persists even today.

In 1983, MIDI (or Musical Instrument Digital Interface) became commercially available. And that opened the door for all levels of aspiring musicians to experiment with electronic sounds. The seeds were planted for the creation of house music.

Even today, MIDI is the backbone of electronic music. But it was disco with its focus on clubs and getting people on the dance floor that was the grandfather for today’s EDM.

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