Home » Fun » How Music Travels – The Evolution of Western Dance Music

How Music Travels – The Evolution of Western Dance Music

Music tourism (visiting a city or town to see a gig or festival) is on the rise. But why stop at gigs and festivals? Why not visit the birthplace of your favourite genre and follow the actual journey various music genres have taken as one style developed into another.

To make it easier to trace the threads of music history, we’ve created an interactive map detailing the evolution of western dance music over the last 100 years. The map shows the time and place where each of the music styles were born and which blend of genres influenced the next.

How Music Travels
How Music Travels - The Evolution of Western Dance Music

Click on the image above to launch  the interactive version

Click here to view the static version

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We hope the graphic will allow you to learn more about the music you love and discover other forms of music you’ll enjoy — as well as possible locations to add to your wish-list.

About the Research:

The map shows the evolution of top level dance genres only, and does not delve into all possible sub-genres.

It is often difficult to pin-point the beginning of a genre to a single year, so we have placed the birth of each genre within 5-year periods.

When the explosion of dance music arrived in the 80s, many genres arrived in the same 5-year period as the genres they influenced. In this situation, the ‘influencer’ genre starts to fade in on the map at the time the influencing line appears.

Non-dance music genres which influenced dance music are also included, but their own influences are not shown.

Often where a genre was first born was not the location it eventually gained most popularity.

The sources used to create the map include Bass CultureLast Night A DJ Saved My Life,The All Music Guide to Electronica, and Wikipedia.

This is a fairly complex subject and much debate exists not only around how you define various genres of music, but also where they initially came from. If you’d like to share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

>>View the static version
>>Launch the interactive

To embed the infographic, use the following code:

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130 Responses to “How Music Travels – The Evolution of Western Dance Music”

  1. brownsimonmusic@yahoo.com' 5rown 5imon

    This scheme is for american showbusiness oriented dance music, the origin of eurodance, eurotrance. Great job, nice motion. Congratulations. Thx.

  2. alison.aj@hotmail.com' confuzed

    americas came before europe?
    i get that this is about one type of music but. . .
    americas before europe? important to distinguish. . .? and that’s just what I know. . .which is little!!! I’m looking to learn more, wrong site.

    Any ideas anyone?

    • brownsimonmusic@yahoo.com' 5rown 5imon

      This scheme is for american showbusiness oriented dance music. Its a great scheme for this.

  3. bob@theweb.net' Bob

    From Belgium: Popcorn and New Beat maybe no core but genre changers.

  4. reptilespantoso@gmail.com' Jan

    hi! nice project, but you’re forgetting that mainland europe played a HUGE role in electronic dance music.
    notably, there should be Italy (Italo, House), Spain (Ibiza) and the Netherlands (early house, techno, electro, gabber, techhouse, trance) on the map.
    I had the chance to document an interesting crossover from NYC based Electro, to The Hague, Netherlands, for example.
    There’s been all kinds of scenes in Germany, France as well, on the map the focus is mainly on the UK.

  5. 1.t.b.a.0.3@gmail.com' tba03

    well, the data was pretty bad, nothing from the UK in the 60’s (i guess the beatles never existed in your alternate timeline)

  6. jagertom@gmail.com' Tamas

    The link to the static version does not work. Can anyone send/post a high quality image of this?

    thanks, T.

  7. mulchmalanga@gmail.com' Malanga

    Nice attempt but why aren’t there any influences from Latin America, Cuba, Puerto Rico or Mexico listed? Afro-Cuban music had a great influence on Jazz and yet it’s completely omitted.

    • joseph.moutran@gmail.com' Joseph Moutran

      I was thinking the exact same thing and I couldn’t agree more. Salsa and Samba (and all that derived therefrom) are such imposing and hugely complex music forms that they deserve their spot on this allegedly comprehensive review of how western dance music evolved.

  8. scotty.jordan@gmail.com' Scott Jordan

    According to this no music came out of the UK until the mid-70’s.
    Nice graphic but bad data.

  9. info@joyello.net' joyello

    Good job but… There’s another couple of unpardonable forgetfulness: the Disco Music Southern Europe (Moroder & The Munich Sound) and all the epic 80s Italo Disco

  10. VillageGreenRecords@gmail.com' Village Green Records

    This is a great project, and looks great too.

    But I would have to agree with a few of the comments and add extras:

    You’ve forgotten Madchester and the whole Gabba thing.
    Also it would be beneficial to bring attention to Samba, Salsa, and more Latin influences. These have huge influences later in Miami and the S. Hemisphere of electro dance later.

    You are also missing Glitch-Hop, Juke, Footwork and the whole L.A. electronic scene (Flying Lotus, Daedelus, Nosaj Thing, etc.). And the Americanized/’Isreali’ized’ (via Borgore) of the “Brostep” genre from Dubstep.

    Not as relevant or important but still nice additions would be the additions of Moonbahton, Witchhouse and some of the further leftfield genres of modern R&B.

    Oh and what about IDM!!? Aphex Twin and the thousands of groups that were inspired by that sound?

    And as much as I think it is a bit of a joke- “EDM”; it could have been added at the very end as a large summation of everything from an American perspective.

  11. l0rdisgood@hotmail.com' Toofeeq

    So we french didnt invent anything ? Where is the french touch ? Is France not a western country ?

    Ever heard of Jean Michel Jarre ? (he started his musical career in the 1970’s) or Laurent Garnier he started 1987 and his Fcommunications label in 1997.

    Before the 2000’s french artists would do some kind of live Electro-dub listen to High Tone, Improvisators Dub, Zenzile or Kaly Live Dub. And this even before DUBSTEP (which is obviously far from being the little genre that this graphic let’s think).

    Ed banger records had a huge impact internationally speaking, they started in 2003 but there were other people doing electro-house before 2000 in France.

    Famous french electro-house artists would be Mr. Oizo, The Hacker, vitalic, Justice. Is it useful to name Daft Punk ? they popularized Electro-house worldwide and just for that France deserves to be mentioned as home of the electro-house genre, not just in Europe.

    And then there are several undergound Frenchcore and Hardcore Techno scenes which were originated from the spiral tribes travel through europe in the 1990’s.
    Micropoint is internationaly renound there are also Les Enfants Sages productions and Heretik system just to name a few.

    Come on we didnt just make french fries.

    I miss Trap here it came from Miami bass mixing up with hip-hop and dubstep but it came around 2010 so its forgiven.

    Okay now go back to work and stop writing your english/american side of the western musical culture. Anyhow the thing is a good idea.

    • brownsimonmusic@yahoo.com' 5rown 5imon

      Jean Michel Jarre is not a dance production. This scheme is for american showbusiness oriented dance music.

  12. kmlbrcht@gmail.com' Kim Albrecht

    Very interesting research. I’m working in the field of data visualizations, at the moment I’ writing my master thesis on visualizing cultural evolution. Who made this graphic and the research? I would really appreciate a contact.


    • brownsimonmusic@yahoo.com' 5rown 5imon

      That is not dance genre, is a rock genre.

  13. mike@michaelphines.net' Mike

    Love this infographic. I think it would be really helpful if hovering over the name of a subgenre dimmed the background and highlighted all of its edges.

  14. digidudi@hotmail.com' Diego

    So, according to this graph, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Danzón, Tango, Carnavalito, Samba, Bossa Nova, Forró, etc etc are NOT western dance music.
    Whoever did this, did an awesome job graphically, but HORRIBLE historically.

    • brownsimonmusic@yahoo.com' 5rown 5imon

      those latino ethnical music genres, this chart is for american showbusiness oriented dance music

  15. hoden_k@yahoo.com' Floman

    Good idea. But really: this is totally wrong in any aspect!

  16. stappen@gmx.de' Martin

    Makes fun exploring it, but i think rockmusic is highly underrepresented

  17. buster.bennett@gmail.com' Buster

    This is brilliant! It would be even more awesome if you could possibly make some sort of App people can complete a music map of their own, I would love to see all the sub genres, and the gaps filled in! My favourite mini-genre not listed would have to be Trancehall lol

  18. p_s_austin@yahoo.com' Paul Paranoia

    Breakbeat / Hardcore was originally Rave in the UK coming out of Acid House and Techno. Happy Hardcore should be firmly in the UK whilst Gabba from Holland is missing.

  19. davedx@gmail.com' Dave

    Pretty decent job of the genres I know of, respect for putting this together!

  20. jimmy_ellis@mac.com' Jimmy Ellis

    It’s a great project, Northern Soul is a bit of an omission though.

  21. agoran_1@hotmail.com' Carlos

    This is a nice little graph, but I think that the title is very misleading. It should be called “Evolution of the dance music that I like”. This is not western, not even US-centric. I invite you to watch a very simple TV show such as “Dancing with the stars” and you will see the many dancing genres that you are simply neglecting and that are danced in the USA, not to say anything about Europe and Latin America, which are considered “Western” by many.

    Think about Salsa dancing for example, which is an evolution from Cuban music and it was developed mostly in New York by people from Puerto Rico. Salsa dancing is immensely popular around the world, and is nowhere to be seen in your little animation. But if you are talking about nightclub music, well, let me introduce you to Shakira originating from Colombia.

  22. jcampbell33@gmail.com' Jeff

    Hey man, it seems like you’re getting a lot of negative feedback for this. People don’t understand all the work these types of things involve, and they also don’t understand how valuable a broad overview of a subject is. This is an amazing way to view the evolution of music.

    I’d only recommend, if you’re interested in continuing to work on it, the inclusion of more detail. Maybe some kind of filter to view a single genre’s rise or to control the amount of detail shown.

    This is great as it stands though and I’m going to headline my site with it. Thanks for all the work. Maybe we can get in touch.


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