The following list is by no means a definitive guide and represents my own vision of progressive electronic music styles. Your own opinion may differ from that expressed on this page. Please note, that there are a lot of different classifications around but I tried to capture the essence of these and to build my own list that includes the most important sub-genres within the realm of Electronic Music. Of course, not all directions of EM are covered here. Also bear in mind that usually an artist doesn't always work in one specific style. The list can only be useful to give you some clues as to which styles you may like and where it is best for you to start with EM. It may also help in undertanding the terminology which is used in Encyclopedia of Electronic Music.
Classics of Electronic Music
Not a term to describe specific musical style, but rather a catch-all that is used to indicate the bands and albums that are a must in every serious Electronic Music collection. People like Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream also fall into this category but they are also listed under 'Berlin School'.
Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Tomita, Michael Hoenig, Edward Artemiev...
Along with Ambient, the most distinguished form of Electronic Music, pioneered by artists like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. Flowing music with lots of sequences and soloing. Often spacey or dark and mysterious. The emphasis is on sound textures.
Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Ashra, etc.
Not an official term, but it is used sometimes to describe Kraftwerk and all bands influenced by them or bands that may be similar sounding. Mechanical, experimental, robotic music. Bands that try to copy the Kraftwerk sound also fall to this category. Another sub-genre of Dusseldorf School is represented by Cluster and Cluster-like bands which means quirky, experimental rhythmic pieces with characteristic mechanical "motorik" rhythms.
Kraftwerk, Cluster, Harmonia, etc.
A catch-all that describes Electronic Music coming out of the UK. Doesn't tell a thing about musical style, though. These artists are very diverse. Some of them are more Ambient, others rhythmic.
Ian Boddy, Mark Shreeve, Paul Nagle, etc.
One of the most distinguished forms of Electronic Music. Flowing minimal structures, usually very atmospheric and relaxing. Sometimes with rhythms and/or sequences. Pioneered by Brian Eno and Harold Budd. There are several sub-genres of Ambient. See guide.
Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Steve Roach, Robert Rich, etc.
Electronic Music with elements from different cultures of the world. (not new age)
David Parsons, Alquimia, Jorge Reyes, etc.
Electronic New Age
On the very brink of the electronic world, this is the most commercial of the genres. It is debatable whether these artists belong to the Electronic Music world or are just part of the new age scene. This music is characterized by a generally very light and uplifting atmosphere and is very 'sweet'. The emphasis is on melodies.
Kitaro, Gandalf, etc.
Music which is absolutely unpredictable, with weird sounds and rhythms.
Conrad Schnitzler, Propeller Island, etc.
Flowing, relaxing, with sequences and/or rhythms. Sometimes like Ambient, but not that minimal.
Michael Stearns, Jonn Serrie, Telomere, etc.
New Berlin School
Similar to Berlin School but very modern sounding (although the question of what is modern is debatable). Generally very upbeat but often relaxed and moody.
Spyra, Cerulean, some Asana, Klaus Schulze from 1996 on, etc.
Roughly: Ambient music with no melody and rhythm. Focus is on pure sound sculpturing. The music is often very brooding and sinister. There are several subgenres. See guide.
Lustmord, Endura, Artemiy Artemiev, some Hemisphere, etc.
Top of page