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Ellen Allien, Roman Flügel and Dub Isotope: An AI Analysis of Techno and Drum ‘n’ Bass

June 10, 2020

As a team of music lovers, the Cyanite team has been tuning in regularly to Berlin’s lockdown livestream DJ sets over the last few months. 

Some of us might be of the opinion that recording technology should be kept firmly away from the dancefloor in order for party people to truly revel in the night’s atmosphere. Right now, it seems the opposite is true. 

These livestream recordings have made it possible for music fans in Berlin (and the world) to experience electronic music and to feel connected to the electronic music community. Technology has proven itself as very much needed and welcome in the music space, and in this case, instrumental in keeping club culture alive during the coronavirus restrictions.

Decoding Electronic Music with AI

In this spirit of club culture, we ran some of our favourite mixes through our analysis models.

Set #1: Ellen Alliens’s Griessmuehle set

A heavyweight in the techno scene, Ellen Allien’s combination of classic techno with a side of experimental and IDM is one-of-a-kind, and a definite favorite at Cyanite. 

Ellen Allien’s no prisoner taking set @ Griessmuehle Berlin

In this set, techno alternated between dancey and contemplative. Our genre analysis results revealed that the set was predictably profiled as consisting mostly of “electronic dance”. In moments where the electronic dance genre was detected at a low level, the ambient genre was inversely detected as the dominant genre.

Result of Cyanite’s AI analysis on the emotional dynamics of Ellen Allien’s set

Looking at our emotion analysis results, the top quality detected in her hour-long set was “dark”. This was followed closely by “tense”, and then “energetic”. Characteristically, we observed that her set opened with the level of darkness at a high point, before hovering at a more or less at a consistent mid-to-high level after, before ending high again. 

Tenseness, however, was a different story altogether. In Ellen Allien’s set, techno is a tightrope walk. Listeners alternate between feeling almost about to tip over the edge and occasional moments of stability at the peak.

Sustained periods of high musical tension were found at the beginning, middle, and end of her set. Outside of those intervals, the level of tenseness peaked and plunged all throughout the set, often in sharp, spiky drops and rises. 

In her set, tension is also characterized by a frenetic level of energy: we saw that the level of energy detected very closely paralleled the pattern of tenseness.

Set #2: Roman Flügel’s Wilde Renate stream 

Roman Flügel’s Wilde Renate stream is another hot favorite. 

Roman Flügel’s never disappointing curation of eclectic sounds @ Wilde Renate

While the Ellen Allien set we listened to earlier veered towards the heavier side, this set takes us to a gentler side of techno. Flügel treated our ears to an hour of electro, techno and occasional ambient. 

A softer brand of techno does not mean happy techno though (if there can ever be such a concept). While the previously discussed set was ruled by high-strung techno energy, Flügel’s set is more muted

Result of Cyanite’s AI analysis on the emotional journey of Roman Flügel’s set

Topmost of the qualities detected was ‘melancholia’. The atmosphere of melancholy hovered at a consistently high level throughout the entire set, with brief intervals of dips. In those moments where melancholy dropped, tenseness – which was at a base level throughout most of the set, climbed up slightly. 

Almost as much as his set was melancholic, it was calm. The smooth melodies and synth swells in the set gave it an air of sereneness. Calmness was the second highest quality detected. The level of calm closely mirrored the level of melancholy throughout the set, although it had more well-defined plateaus during the most calm moments. 

Flügel’s set was also comfortingly brooding (exactly how we love our techno). Underscoring the calmness and melancholy was darkness, which was profiled as the third top quality in the set. 

The haunting, sad effect of minor keys seem to be well favored in techno. 

Both these techno sets were detected to be mostly in minor keys: Ellen Allien’s one was predominantly B Flat minor, and Roman Flügel’s in F minor.

Set #3: Dub-Isotope’s VOID mix 

Pivoting away from techno, our third set analyzed was a Drum N Bass one. We analyzed Dub Isotope’s set at VOID Berlin- a stellar venue for non-techno and techno music alike. 


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Dub Isotope’s stellar 171 BPM Drum n’ Bass journey @ VOID Berlin

While the two sets above were in a minor key, our analysis results showed that this set favored F major. Also, compared to the 105-130 BPM range of the techno sets, Dub Isotope’s set sat firmly at 171 BPM, a tempo characteristic of Drum N Bass music. 

Listening to Drum N Bass is quite a diverse emotional journey. The qualities detected in this set were at more moderate levels, compared to the earlier two techno sets. 

Cyanite’s AI mood analysis on Dub Isotope’s Drum n’ Bass trip

Our results signaled to us that this set was definitely more upbeat. While the techno sets at certain emotions at a distinctively high level, and others at a significantly lower range (e.g. Relaxing’ at near rock bottom levels for both), the various emotions detected for Dub Isotope’s set mostly occupied the mid-range. Among these, the top few to note were ‘calm’, ‘dark’ and ‘relaxing’, followed very closely by happiness

Looking at our genre analysis, Dub Isotope’s set was similarly detected to be electronic dance, with an interesting spurt of hip hop just a bit after the halfway mark of the mix

Analyze your own music

We built Cyanite in a way that everyone can use it to analyze their own music with AI. If you want to get insights on mood, genre, bpm, and key for your music, you can register here for free and try it out yourself. Contact us if you have feedback, ideas, or want to use our API to integrate Cyanite into your database.

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