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Understanding the Different Tempos and BPMs for EDM

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is an incredibly broad genre, one that encompasses various common genres and sub-genres, each with their own mood, atmosphere, instruments, characteristics, and even tempo ranges.

When it comes to tempo, the performance speed of a piece of music – that is, how fast or slow it is played – can have a tremendous impact on the vibe of a DJ mix. It can also influence how people respond to a DJ mix, and the style of EDM that they will most likely associate those songs with.

For this reason, it is important that you understand how tempo works, what the most common tempo ranges are for different styles of EDM, and how you can use the latest software for beat-matching in order to create the most seamless and cohesive DJ mix possible.

TL;DR#

  • BPM stands for Beats Per Minute;

  • The BPM of a song determines how many beats there are in a minute;

  • Different styles of EDM have a different average BPM range, which influences how fast or slow a song in that particular style is played;

  • Using software like DJ.Studio can help DJs identify the BPM of a song, and then use AUTOMIX to instantly create more cohesive DJ mixes.

What is BPM? And How Does it Relate to Electronic Dance Music?#

BPM is a useful way to determine the performance speed of a piece of music. It stands for Beats Per Minute, and it helps composers, musicians, performers, and DJs quickly understand how fast or slow a piece of music is to be played.

Within the context of DJing, knowing the BPM of each song in your set will help you decide how easy (or difficult) it will be to transition from one song to the next. If the BPM of the songs in your set differ a lot, then you will struggle to create a cohesive DJ mix.

To understand how BPM actually works, it helps to have some knowledge of music theory. And while this knowledge is not essential to becoming a DJ, it can help make the process of creating DJ mixes a bit easier.

Notated sheet music with the time signature 4/4 and 120BPM

When composing for sheet music, the music is split up into measures (or bars), which helps the performer (the one reading the sheet music) keep track of the tempo and their position in the song. The number of beats that occurs within a measure is defined by the time signature. The most common time signature is 4/4, where the top 4 is the number of beats per measure and the bottom 4 is the note that represents one beat.

The value of the BPM then determines the speed at which those beats are played out per measure. Which means, the higher the BPM, the faster those beats will occur, and vice-versa for lower BPMs.

What is the Average BPM for EDM Genres?#

As mentioned at the start of this article, electronic music is an incredibly diverse genre. That means that it is possible for two very different sub-genres to exist under the same EDM umbrella.

From the slow, sustained grooves of Dub music of the 1970s, to the mad, frenetic pace of Drum and Bass in the 1990s and beyond, they are all part of the EDM family. They just each have their own roots, history, influences, and notable artists, which have given each sub-genre their own distinct sound and flavor.

EDM is an incredibly broad genre that encompasses a wide range of styles and tempos.

When it comes to DJing, it is important to understand the common tempos for certain genres. This knowledge can help reduce the risk of trying to mix-and-match styles that don’t really work together, thus saving you precious time and hassle. So, without further ado, here is a breakdown of the common tempos for EDM genres and other genres.

  • Dub – 60 to 90 BPM

  • Downtempo and Chillout – 80 to 110 BPM

  • Hip Hop - 85 to 110 BPM

  • Breakbeat – 110 to 150 BPM

  • House – 115 to 130 BPM

  • Trance – 120 to 140 BPM

  • Techno – 120 to 140 BPM

  • Future House - 120 to 130 BPM

  • Electro House - 125 to 135 BPM

  • Tech House - 125 to 130 BPM

  • Hardstyle – 140 BPM to 160 BPM

  • Drum and Bass – 165 to 180 BPM

Of course, there are exceptions to these common tempos. It is possible for a song to fit a certain genre, but also be faster or slower than other top songs in that style. Some EDM songs even have a half time tempo, where the time signature of a song is cut in half. So instead of a track with 4/4 it would be cut down to 2/4. 

With this in mind, consider these estimates as a useful reference point. But always use your best judgment when creating DJ mixes. You never know when you might find a track that is out of the ordinary, but also perfect for your DJ mix.

How to Match BPMs for Your DJ Mixes#

Now that you know what BPM is, and the average BPM range for different dance music styles, it is time to put this knowledge into practice.

But what is the easiest, and most efficient way, to beat-match the right song in your set? Sure, you could manually calculate the BPM of each song. But that process can be very time consuming, especially if you are creating multiple DJ mixes, with up to 20 songs or more. One way to speed up the beat-matching process is to use software like DJ.Studio, which can help you save time and create more cohesive DJ mixes.

With DJ.Studio, you can import songs into your library and then use the Automix feature. When you click on Automix, DJ.Studio will automatically rearrange the order of your own tracks in your set. This will change the track order, so that only songs with the same or similar BPMs will be played together.

To demonstrate this feature, let’s say you have a DJ mix with 5 songs. And the order of these songs is as follows:

  1. Rainbow (145 BPM)

  2. Cloud (140 BPM)

  3. Rain (142 BPM)

  4. Thunder (148 BPM)

  5. Sun (147 BPM)

Once you import these songs (in this order) into DJ.Studio, you can click on the Automix button.

You see that you can Lock First Track and Lock Last Track. If you tick either of these boxes, then DJ.Studio will keep the first and last tracks of your set in the same place while automixing. . This is a great feature to use if you have already decided what track you want to start and end your set with. Of course, you can always change the order of those tracks afterwards.

DJ.Studio Automix Screen

Based on the configuration of our Automix, DJ.Studio will then rearrange the set order into something like this:

  1. Rainbow (145 BPM)

  2. Rain (142 BPM)

  3. Cloud (140 BPM)

  4. Thunder (147 BPM)

  5. Sun (148 BPM)

As you can see, the Automix has calculated a new order of the tracks in your mix. You can also see that the songs 'Rainbow' and 'Sun' are in the same place, as they were locked. The only problem with this mix is that there is a noticeable jump in BPM between the songs 'Cloud' and 'Thunder.' To remedy this, DJ.Studio will scan your library and suggest a song with a more compatible BPM to replace it. You could also digitally adjust the BPM of the two songs.

Make sure you have the BPM under control during a live DJ performance

Noah Feasey-Kemp
DJ/Producer
I started DJing when I was 15. Started a record label, residency by a club in Bristol. I’ve played at all the biggest clubs in Bristol (and the small ones) and have entertained thousands of dancers! I love writing about music, DJing, and technology. I've been blogging for DJ.Studio since the start of the project, and am always happy to answer questions and help fellow DJs out!

FAQ About Tempos and BPMs in Different Genres

By now you have learned a lot about the different tempos within Electronic Dance music and how the BPMs differ between the different genres of EDM. You could also checkout the questions and answers below to find some additional answers.

What is BPM Within the Context of Music?
How Do You Measure the BPM of a Song?
Can You Modify the Tempo of a Song to Match Your DJ Mix?

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