How to dance minimal techno

Less is more: the beginner's guide to minimal dance music

(Image credit: Future)

In electronic music circles, the word ‘minimal’ tends to be applied to a specific lineage of producers, beginning with Detroit techno originators like Robert Hood via the work of Richie Hawtin, Ricardo Villalobos and Wolfgang Voigt. 

In reality though, the application of minimal production and composition techniques is far more wide-ranging than that, found in classic Kraftwerk tracks, the dub techno of acts like Basic Channel, the more stripped-back ends of drum & bass, drone and ambient music, and even pop productions by the likes of The Neptunes.

In a wider musical sense, minimalism as a form is typically linked with 20th century composers like Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Philip Glass. Despite existing in a more high-brow sphere, the work of these composers is far from unrelated to the minimal styles you’ll hear pumping out of a club sound system.

Take a listen to the shifting pulses of Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians and it’s not hard to see comparisons with the subtle drum machine variations of Robert Hood’s best M-Plant releases.

What links all minimal music though, is that it sounds easier to make than it is. With so few elements involved, there’s nowhere to hide and the line between subtle and dull is fine indeed.

All about the loop

When it comes to making minimal electronic music, there are no hard and fast rules beyond the most obvious: less is more. The whole idea involves stripping the music back to just the most important elements and wringing as much as possible out of these core ideas. Throughout the history of minimal music, it’s usually appeared as a counterpoint to more ‘busy’ styles of dance music.

Although it wasn’t necessarily the first minimal electronic record, Robert Hood’s 1994 masterpiece Minimal Nation is one of the most important foundations of minimal techno and is a great place to start when examining how minimal production styles work.

Hood has described the sound of the record as a reaction to the increasing tempos and complexity of techno as it spread across the world. In part, it was a record created out of necessity; Hood had been struggling financially at the time, and so the album was created using a bare-bones setup of synths and drum machines picked up from a pawn shop. He used little more than an SH-101, Juno, TR-909 and Yamaha DX1000. 

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Beyond necessity, Hood also cites a desire to reinject a little humanity into the machine-heavy techno sound. The synth riffs on Minimal Nation were programmed ‘live’ using a Yamaha QY sequencer, resulting in the album’s distinctive blend of mechanised and organic feel.

As is true with most minimal electronic styles, the arrangements of tracks on Minimal Nation are very simple. Although the tracks do build, with additional elements being introduced as the arrangements go on, there are no real breakdowns to speak of, and certainly nothing you could call a ‘drop’. Effectively the tracks are all variations on one or – at their most elaborate – two basic ideas. 

Naturally, if you’re going to use this sort of approach in your own music you need to remember that your track is going to live or die on the strength of that main riff. Minimal dance tracks often take a single loop or riff and run with them for four, six or even ten or more minutes. It goes without saying that unless that loop has a certain ‘something’ to it in the first place to hook the listener in, then it’s not going to hold up to that sort of repetition.

Unfortunately, there’s no simple recipe for creating a killer loop, but there are some basic principles to consider to help you get there. Since melodic progression isn’t really a factor here, you should focus your energy on developing groove and interesting sound design. A completely rigid groove is likely to get boring quickly, so try applying swing to one or more elements or nudging a few percussive hits off the grid.

Start with basic elements - for example, some simple percussion, a two or three-note bassline and a chord stab - and spend time experimenting with how they interact. Use accents and velocity to emphasise one or two beats in the bar. Consider what’s going on in each part of the frequency spectrum. Try adding a slide/portamento, ghost notes or reversed percussive hits to help your loop groove a little.

Tools and techniques

Getting a killer loop or two going is half the battle, but turning those elements into a great minimal dance track isn’t as simple as just duplicating them across your DAW’s timeline. Great minimal music often gives the illusion that nothing is changing while making subtle, often nearly imperceptible changes to the sounds that shift the feel of the track over time. 

The key to making this work is considering what element you intend to evolve at sound design stage. Filters are an obvious choice; slowly raising the cutoff and/or resonance of a low-pass filter over the duration of a track is a tried-and-tested way to add progression to a repetitive synth loop. Other synth parameters work equally well, though – small adjustments to an amp envelope or changes to the shape and tone of your oscillators go a long way.

Effects have played a mixed role in minimal music’s evolution. By their nature, minimal beats tend to eschew heavy processing in favour of simple, punchy sounds. On Minimal Nation, effects processing is almost non-existent, save for a small dash of reverb added by Hood’s mix engineer, which gives the album a distinctive sense of space.

Later evolutions of minimal dance music often use delay and reverb as sound design tools for creating and evolving a groove over time. Dub techno, meanwhile, takes the minimalism of leftfield techno and combines it with dub’s distinctive heavy delay processing.

Getting a killer loop or two going is half the battle, but turning those elements into a great minimal dance track isn’t as simple as just duplicating them across your DAW’s timeline.

Even when used subtly, adjusting effect parameters over time is a great way to evolve otherwise repetitive sounds. Recent albums from Discwomen co-founder Umfang are a great example of this – on super-minimal tracks like Where Is She, her reverb design is as much a feature of the groove as the synths and drums.

In gear terms, there’s no set paradigm for how to stock your studio. While a lot of minimal producers use a stripped-back hardware setup, you can find just as many working in-the-box and making use of samples.

One thing common among minimal music makers is a tendency to limit the sound palette to just one or two instruments. Whether using virtual instruments of hardware, try limiting yourself to a bare minimum of instruments (or a single, thematically-consistent sample pack) and wring as much out of them as possible. As well as giving you consistency, this can also be an inspiring creative challenge in itself. 

Punchy drums are a must for minimal styles of dance music. Since you’ll be relying on fewer sounds overall, what’s there needs the power to carry your track momentum on its own.

Roland’s TR-909 is an obvious choice, still the go-to machine for much of house and techno thanks to its punchy percussive sounds and tight-but-weighty kick. Of course, the problem with using the same machine as countless others is that it makes it far harder to make tracks stand out.  

here are countless excellent alternatives out there. Arturia’s DrumBrute Impact and Korg’s Volca Drum are both great for punchy sounds on the cheap, while the MFB Tanzbar 2 or Jomox Alpha Base are both killer minimal machines at the pricier end. Digital synths can be great for creating characterful but punchy percussion, too – try an FM plugin such as FM8 or a hardware machine like Elektron’s Digitone for something a bit different to analogue-style drums.

If you’re working with samples, preparation will go a long way. Minimal tracks tend not to use a lot of buss/group processing, so make sure your samples sound exactly how you want before you load them into a sampler. Try creating your own sample packs before you write. Layer drum samples, add a little saturation, EQing, compression… basically anything needed to get your hits sounding their best. Then when you come to sequence your minimal beat, your drums should hit home without needing much mix attention.

Riff inspiration with  delay effects

While delay wasn’t a big feature of early minimal house and techno - due to the expense of hardware delay units - it’s become a key tool for producers.

Since minimal music often has fewer elements and larger gaps between beats, delay can help to fill out the frequency spectrum and add extra depth to the sound. Delay is often used as an overt part of the rhythm, rather than adding a subtle effect. 

Below, we’ll use several delay types to transform a simple riff rhythm. Modulating these effects over time can add progression to your track.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 1: We start with a virtual analogue lead sound. We program a simple single-bar pattern of just three notes with no changes in length or velocity – not a lot interesting going on here. Rather than try and spice things up on the piano roll, let’s use delay to generate a better riff.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 2: By using a stereo delay device with a mono utility after it, we can use the left and right delays as two mono delay lines working together to add rhythmic interest. Timing offsets do the same. A dry/wet value of 40-50% makes the delay feel part of the original riff.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 3: Or try a MIDI delay instead of an audio one. This duplicates the notes before they reach the synth, rather than delaying the audio. The Max for Live version lets us change pitch on each repeated MIDI note, for a result more like a basic arpeggiator.

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Techno Dance Moves that Never Fail on the Dancefloor

Author : Skylar Schossberger
June 16, 2022

Let’s be real. When you find yourself in a warehouse party, whether you’re a seasoned raver or newbie to the scene, your body wants to move when you hear that four-on-the-floor techno pulse. Although techno dancing isn’t classically defined in the dance world, its found a niche among underground partygoers. The dance moves can be as free and experimental as the underground scene itself. There’s no judgement. Really, the only expectation is that you’re able to let go of what others think and truly feel the music move your body in fantastic ways. If you need help getting started, then here are some dance moves that never fail on the dancefloor. 

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How to Dance to Techno

Both the beauty and the curse of techno dancing is that there’s no “right” way to move to techno. It’s very personal. Contrast, for example, dancing to different genres. The way your body will move to a dub techno track at 120 BPMs may be quite different from the way it responds to a mind melting acid techno track at 135+ BPMs.

The best course of action is to learn the foundation for dancing to techno. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can add your own unique spin and begin free styling. Start by accustoming your body to the underlying rhythm. Sway your hips to the beat: “1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, etc.” Tap your feet: “Left, right, left, right, left, right, etc.” Once you feel confident that you’ve captured the rhythm, capture the textures of the track with your arms and your fingers. You can incorporate your entire body into the track, let the music take you to new heights. The key, at the end of the night, is to feel the track from start to finish. 


The March with a little bit of stomp

— Ryan (@Ryan18689138) May 5, 2020


Techno Dance Moves

As mentioned previously there is no right way to dance to techno. Get creative with your movements, dance is a powerful form of expression. Now there’s no official names for these dance moves but “Das Techno Team” has thought up some great creative names of actual dance moves you’ll typically find with techno parties.


The Italian Stomp

Here is a simple variation of basic feet stomping. You start with the sway of your hips and then you incorporate your feet. After you feel comfortable with this movement you can begin experimenting with patterns. Instead of going “left, right, etc.”, consider changing the pattern. Double it up, “left, left, right, left, right, right, etc.” Heck, triple it if you’re feeling fancy. 

@electronicbeats Not me polishing up my dance moves for the next rave. @technoteam #technodance #technotok #dance #technomusic ♬ original sound – electronicbeats


The Royal Brexit Drop

Now that you’ve got your feet underneath you it’s time to use those arms. Fist pumps, wrist flicks, snaky arms… go full Gumby mode. Your hips and your legs can jack to the rhythm and the rest of your body can feel out the other elements of the track.  

@technoteam @pana.crush antworten #TechnoTeam and #Techno #Basics 13 #fy #fürdich #parati #рек #perte #pourtoi #paravoce #おすすめ #lernenmittiktok #TechnoTok #Rave ♬ Trepidation by Stan Christ TechnoTeam Cut – Das Techno Team


Sidewalk Voguing 

No techno dance guide would be complete without mentioning “voguing.” Voguing or “vogue” is a kind of improvisational dance style influenced by the poses of models in fashion magazines. Whether angular and precise or slow and sensuous, this style of dance is about telling a story through movement. 

@technoteam #TechnoTeam with #Techno #Basics 3. 1.2 and the #Cross #Walk #Voguing #Hands #fy #fürdich #parati #рек #lernenmittiktok #TechnoTok #Rave #season ♬ Follow – Amelie Lens


5 Best Techno Dance Songs


Charlotte de Witte “Age of Love – The Age of Love” (Charlotte de Witte & Enrico Sangiuliano Remix) 

The original track “The Age of Love” by Age of Love is over 30 years old. It was popular in the nineties and continues to be a dance floor destroyer to this day. Charlotte de Witte and Enrico Sangiuliano‘s remix of the hit track is just as banging. The lyrics “come on, dance with me” beckon ravers to the dance floor to stomp to the heavy four-to-the-floor kick and lose themselves in the trance that is “The Age of Love.”

Charlotte de Witte · Age Of Love – The Age Of Love (Charlotte de Witte & Enrico Sangiuliano Remix)


Joey Beltram “Energy Flash” – R & S Records

“Energy Flash” was released in 1990 to critical acclaim. A definitive techno track during its time, the track sits nicely in any modern techno set as well (good music is timeless after all). Joey Beltram’s song is minimal, yet playful. The 909 percussive elements frame Beltram’s interlocking sonic patterns and lush string samples. This track is a dancer’s dream, his infamous whispered “ecstasy” rolls over your body and hypnotizes it to move from start to finish. 

R & S Records · Joey Beltram – Energy Flash

Read Next: Acid Techno Guide: History, Artists & Classics

F.U.S.E. “Substance Abuse” 

F.U.S.E., aka Richie Hawtin, is a classic nineties acid track that produces full body spastik action. You can’t help but rock out to the squelching 303. Turn the speakers up to max level, you’re in for a trip. 

Richie Hawtin · F.U.S.E.: Substance Abuse (1991) PLUS8013

Darude · Sandstorm (Radio Edit)

Da Hool “Meet Her At The Love Parade” (Original Mix) 

“Meet Her At The Love Parade” references the Love Parade, a former German electronic dance music festival and parade in Berlin. This song builds up quite nicely, like a good party. The percussive elements are simple and layer well. But, the best part is the melody. It’s introduced about a quarter into the song. Once you hear it, you’re hooked. Commence the head bobs and hip sways. 

soundnavigator · Da Hool – Meet her at the love parade (Original full mix – 1997)


Jeff Mills “The Bells” 

“The Bells” by Detroit legend Jeff Mills is a techno anthem. The glitchy kick and playful percussive elements create a euphoric feeling. Its infectious melody compels the body to do as it pleases. Your legs will stomp to the rhythm and the rest of you will react to every sonic element in the track.

vincentimes · Jeff mills – the bells

Read Next: Fake It Til You Make It? Not So Fast, Jeff Mills on Keeping the DJ Artform Alive


A Raver’s Delight

Movement is sacred. It expresses emotion without words and propels us forward. Techno is special because it unites us to move together and dance. A raver’s delight is knowing that no matter where you’re from or who you are, we’re all equal on the dance floor. We all share the same dreams, the same fears, and crave love and happiness. If and when you find yourself dancing to techno, dance like no one’s watching. Freedom inspires others to move freely. 

Read Next: 15 Of The Most Popular Techno Songs Of All Time [1980-2022]

Minimal Techno -

Minimal Techno is a subgenus of minimal techno, characterized by a repetitive musical structure. Minimal techno appears to have emerged in the early 1990s with Detroit-based producers Robert Hood and Daniel Bell. In the early 2000s, the term "minimal" originally described the techno style popularized in Germany by labels such as Richie Hawtin's Kompakt, Perlon and M-nus.


  • 1 Origin
  • 2 Features
  • 3 Influences
  • 4 Notes and references
    • 4. 1 Bibliography


Robert Hood, 2009.

Minimal techno emerged in the early 1990s. The development of the style is often credited to some kind of "second wave" of American producers associated with Detroit techno. According to Derrick May, "While the first wave of artists enjoyed their early hits, techno was also inspired by amateur DJs and producers in Detroit. “This new generation meant producers like Richie Hawtin, Daniel Bell, Robert Hood, Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, Kenny Larkin and Mike Banks. In the compositions of these musicians, more attention is paid to minimalism.

Robert Hood describes this situation in the early 1990s as a period when techno needed to become more "rave" with a faster tempo, leading to the emergence of gabber. Techno mixed with soul begins to solidify the typical and original sound of Detroit. Robert Hood and Daniel Bell realize that something was missing from this post-rave techno music, and that an integral part of the original techno has been lost over time. Hood explains that "it looked great from a production standpoint..."

The minimal techno that emerged during this period is defined by Robert Hood as “an aggressive base sound with multiple drums, bass, funk grooves and all. Indispensable to make people dance. In a sense, I made it my science, the art of moving people's buttocks, touching a sensitive string. This is a rhythmic and sensitive techno sound. "Daniel Bell comments on his dislike of minimalism in the artistic sense of the word, which he finds too" flooded. "

In Audio Culture: Reading Contemporary Music (2004), music critic Philip Sherburne explains that, like most dance music, minimal techno has its roots in the songs of pioneers like Kraftwerk and Detroit techno producers like Derrick May and Juan Atkins. Minimal techno prefers to focus on "rhythm and repetition rather than linear progression melodies", more in the minimalist music and traditional African polyrhythmic music genres. At 19In '94, according to Sherburne, the term "minimal" was used to describe "any acid derivative of the classic Detroit style. " "

Editor Daniel Chamberlain attributes the origins of minimal techno to the German producers of Basic Channel. Chamberlin compares the compositional techniques of producers such as Richie Hawtin, Wolfgang Voigt, and Khirurg to those of the minimalist composer Steve Reich, in particular the phasing scheme that used Reich in some of his songs; first creature came out . Chamberlin also compares the use of sine-tone drone minimalist composer L Mont Young and model of the repetitive Title C by Terry Riley. Sherburn suggests that the noted similarities between minimal forms of dance music and American minimalism may have been coincidental.


Philip Sherburn believes that minimal techno uses two specific stylistic approaches; skeletal and massification . The average minimum techno tempo is between 125 and 130 beats per minute.


It's well known that even the DJs and artists who are most accustomed to a powerful and heavy sound, to a more traditional techno, somehow reached a minimum in a few years. This is the case of Sven Väth, Chris Liebing or Adam Beyer and also Marcel Dettmann. The same evolution is happening with artists like Mistress Barbara or John Digweed or more recently for Belgian DJ Charlotte de Witte.

In France, DJs Chloé and Jennifer Cardini have made a big contribution to the popularization of the minimum since the early 2000s through their residence in Pulp and their respective compilations: I Hate Dancing and Lust, released on the French label UWE, however very hardcore . techno at the very beginning (see also their collaborations on Bpitch Control for Chloé, Mobilee, Crosstown Rebels, Kompakt for Jennifer Cardini). At the same time, other well-known French DJs are also moving towards the minimum register in their sets and compilations without being locked into it: Oxia (song Domino, released on Kompakt, and the compilation Picture of Now 2 on Scandium), Agoria (compilation Cute and Cult ), who had just launched his label InFiné Records at the end of 2006.

Notes and links

  1. (in) Nor-tec rifa!: Electronic dance music from Tijuana to the world - page 8.
  2. (in) Wartofsky, Alona, ​​ All the Rave , The Washington Post , 22 Aug 1997, page D01.
  3. (in) Mike Banks interview, The Wire , issue #285 (November 2007).
  4. a b and c (en) Siko, D., Rebels in style techno: Electronic Funk Departed , Billboard Books, 1999.
  5. (in) May, B 2007, 'Techno' in Burnim, MV and Maultsby, PK, African American Music, New York (ed. ): Routledge, (340 pp.).
  6. (in) Robert Hood interview at
  7. (in) Sherburn P., Digital Discipline: Minimalism in House and Techno in Audioculture , New York: Continuum, 2006 (pp. 321-322).
  8. (in) Sherburn, Philip. Digital Discipline: Minimalism in House and Techno , in Audioculture , New York: Continuum, 2006 (p. 321).
  9. (in) Siko, D., Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk , Billboard Books, 1999, (pp. 174-175).
  10. (in) Chamberlain, Daniel. Party Arty: Minimalist techno producers live up to their avant-garde heritage and throw smarties-inspired parties, The Miami New Times , September 18, 2003, Music Section.
  11. (in) Sherburn, Philip. Digital discipline: Minimalism in the home and techno , culture audio , New York: Continuum, 2006, (p.322).
  12. (in) Cox C. & D. Warner ed (2004). Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music , Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., London.
  13. ↑ Nicholas Gal, “ Charlotte de Witte, new technology nugget ”, DJ Magazine , P about 18, , pp. 36 (ISSN 0951-5143) ) )
  14. ↑ " InFine ", on InFiné (as of January 22, 2021)


  • Mathieu Guillain, La Techno Minimale, Aedam Musicae, 2014 ( ISBN 978-2-919046-12-6 )


  • Acid
  • Ambient
  • Break beat
  • Chiptune
  • Drum and bass
  • Early hardcore
  • Electro
  • Electronic dance music
  • Eurodance
  • Free techno
  • Ghettotec
  • Dirt
  • Lucky gabber
  • Hardtechno
  • Hi-NRG
  • residential building
  • Industrial
  • Schranz
  • Synthpop
  • Technical house
  • Technical trans
  • Techno
  • Detroit Techno
  • Hardcore techno
  • Minimal techno
  • Techstep
  • Tecno-brega
  • Trans
  • Tribe
  • Trip-hop
  • Turbine
  • UK Garage

Techno - rave music

Techno ( techno) is a musical direction (style) in electronic music that originated in the 80s of the twentieth century in Detroit due to the mixing of such genres as house, electro, synth-pop. This musical style has been actively used by DJs for playing at discos.

Three African Americans from Belville are considered to be the inventors of techno: Juan Atkins , considered the "initiator" of techno, Derrick May - "innovator", Kevin Sanderson - "engine". This team, called the "Belville Trinity", tried to adapt electronic German music for performance in clubs and discos.

The track " No UFO's " by Juan Atkins' next project " Model 500 ", recorded in 1985, was recognized as the first techno composition. However, at that time the very concept of "techno" did not yet exist, and music of this format had different names - house, new disco, hip-hop. This genre got its name after it "sailed" across the Atlantic Ocean and was heard in the UK from the compilation " Techno! The New Dance Sound Of Detroit ". After the release of this compilation, US underground techno became very popular in the UK.

In the early 1990s, techno split into many sub-styles, including hardcore techno, ambient, minimal techno, and acid techno.

Hardcore techno came about as a result of experiments with tempo speeds - 160-300 beats per minute and higher. Hardcore is almost impossible to dance to. Initially, this direction can be attributed to "home" music, since most of the compositions were recorded using home computers and software synthesizers.

Ambient style , unlike hardcore, is characterized by slow tempo and enveloping atmospheric sound. This music was used by DJs to "breathe" the dancers.

Minimal-techno is characterized by the simplicity of sounds, the combination of which is a sequence that is hardly distinguishable in terms of melody.

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