What Is Tech House…Exactly?

I do love a bit of tech house. It just hits the spot for me.

But having said that, I’ve been to some clubs where the tech house being played has been just a little too raw, even for me.

That’s because if it’s really stripped-back tech house, it can lack warmth and depth.

Like I say so often, I’m even starting to bore myself…

…it’s as much a question of the DJ as it is the genre being played.

what is tech house music in black text on a vivid green and yellow diagonally split background.

What is Tech House Music?

Tech house is a subgenre of both house music and techno.

When done right, it merges the tight rhythmic elements of techno with the more melodic soul of house.

In the ever-expanding and overarching genre of electronic dance music, you’ll find tech house sitting somewhere in the middle of the tempo range, at anywhere between 120 and 135 beats per minute.

If you like your dance music, you probably find it pretty easy to pick out a tech house tune.

Good tech house music tends to have the precision-engineered structure and beats of techno, overlayed with a warmer and more harmonious groove from house.

A Very Brief History of Tech House

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, two distinct sounds were taking hold on either side of the pond.

In Detroit, a raw, driving, mechanical sound known as Detroit techno was on the rise.

The ingenuity of Detroit producers and DJ’s paved the way for a genre that echoed the city’s industrious history.

At the same time, Chicago house was making its own waves, characterised by 4/4 beats, mesmerising rhythms, and soul-infused vocals. It drew on the legacy of disco but introduced more direction with tougher beats and phatter basslines.

As the genres rose together, producers and DJ’s began to meld the two sounds.

Tech house emerged as a distinctive blend, borrowing the groovy, soulful elements of house and marrying them with the relentless, mechanical beats of techno.

Characteristics of Tech House Music

What makes tech house, tech house? And not just house or techno?

Let’s have a little dig into some of the more defining elements.

#1. Defining Elements of Tech House Sound

In tech house, you’ll often notice a clean and minimal production style.

We’re talking about a sound that fuses techno’s steely beats with the more soulful harmonies and grooves typical of house.

The balance resonates well with the clubbing crowd, making it a staple for dance floors around the world.

#2. Rhythm and Percussion

Rhythm is the backbone of any tech house track.

A strong emphasis on the 4/4 beat, typically led by a punchy kick drum.

Hi-hats, claps, and snares are strategically layered to create an infectious rhythm.

#3. The Role of Bass in Tech House

The bassline in tech house is the beating heart of the genre.

The basslines are often rugged and bold, and they can range from deep and minimal pulses to more pronounced and rhythmic patterns.

It’s this bass that often sets the tempo, generally cruising at a pace anywhere between 120 – 135 bpm, and binds all other musical elements together.

A Few Tech House Artists

Here’s a very small list of a few tech house DJs and producers who have helped shape the scene over the years.

  • Carl Cox – An iconic figure in the techno and house music scenes, Carl Cox has been a pioneering DJ and producer for decades, known for his dynamic DJ sets and contributions to the development of EDM.
  • Jamie Jones – A leading figure in modern tech house, Jamie Jones is known for his innovative sounds and as a co-founder of the Hot Creations label. His work has played a crucial role in shaping contemporary tech house music.
  • Patrick Topping – Gaining fame for his energetic tracks and remixes, Patrick Topping has become a key player in the tech house scene, often featured in major music festivals around the world.
  • Seth Troxler – With a distinctive style that blends tech house with deep house and techno, Seth Troxler is celebrated for his DJ sets as well as his contributions to the underground electronic music scene.
  • Nicole Moudaber – An influential figure in the tech house and techno genres, Nicole Moudaber is known for her intense, driving tracks and for her record label, MOOD Records.
  • Peggy Gou – Although she navigates through various genres, Peggy Gou has produced and played several tracks that lean towards tech house, combining them with her unique blend of house, techno, and electro.
  • Solardo – This duo has risen rapidly within the tech house scene, known for their vibrant tracks and energetic live performances that have garnered a global following.
  • Green Velvet – A veteran of the electronic music scene, Green Velvet (also known as Cajmere) has been influential in the development of tech house, known for his production work and charismatic performances.
  • Fisher – Perhaps best known for his hit “Losing It”, Fisher has become a prominent figure in the tech house world, bringing a distinct energy and charisma to the genre.

Let’s just take a little minute or so to enjoy modern-day tech house legend Jamie Jones:

Video: Jamie Jones, Boiler Room, London – Subscribe to Boiler Room on YouTube

Wrapping it Up!

If you love house music but tend to find tech house a little too stripped-down, raw and cold, you’re listening to the wrong DJs.

Tech house should be like in the YouTube video above, which is anything but raw and cold.

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