Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Defining Electronic Music Genre's

There are many folks out there who are not in tune with the beauty, complexity and awe of the electronic music genre's. They will just carelessly omit all sub genres and plainly call electronic music techno. And it really $%#@ing bothers me too!

So I am going to layout some sub genres so you can decipher what you are listening too and become more cultured in the world of sound and music. I'm a completest and I'm going to resist listing too much, as hard as that might be. So if you want the list of lists as far as electronica sub-genre's go, this Wiki page is where it's at:

Full list of electronic music genres & subgenres

I'm only going to post some that I feel really stand out and need definition.

    Trip Hop

    Trip Hop is a music genre also known as the Bristol sound. The trip hop description was applied to the musical trend in the mid-1990s of downtempo electronic music that grew out of England's hip hop and house scenes. It is often rejected as a term by those artists to whom it is applied. It has also been described as "Europe's alternative of choice in the second half of the '90s", and a fusion "of Hip-Hop and Electronica until neither genre is recognizable." [1] It is thus categorized as a fairly experimental genre, and sometimes with elements of Dance.

    Sometimes characterized by a reliance on breakbeats and a sample-heavy, often moody sound pioneered by Coldcut's remix of Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full", trip hop gained notice via popular artists such as Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, Björk, Thievery Corporation, Amon Tobin, and rock-influenced sound groups such as Ruby, California's DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, Unkle, and the UK's Gorillaz, Howie B. Morcheeba, originating from Hythe in Kent, Londoners Glideascope and New York's Bowery Electric are also often associated with this sound. The latest additions to this line of performers are Jem, Australia's Spook, Anomie Belle, and the Anglo-Polish experimental collaboration Flykkiller.


    Trip hop originated in the '90s in Bristol, England, during a time when American hip hop started to gain increasing popularity in Europe along with the then well established House music and dance scene.[citation needed]British DJ's decided to put a local spin on the international phenomenon and developed hip hop into a different style, marking the birth of trip hop. The name is meant to suggest the spacey, down-tempo feeling of trip hop music. Originators in Bristol modified hip hop by adding a laid-back beat ("down tempo") – Bristol's signature sound in hip hop (trip hop's predecessor) was characterized by its emphasis on slow and heavy drum beats and a sound drawing heavily on acid jazz, Jamaican and dub music. Trip hop took root in Bristol partly because of its deeply rooted sound system culture and its relationship with a black identity. It is important to note that, as an important slave-trading centre in the 18th century, Bristol's black community has influenced black British identity for centuries; Bristol is 2.8 percent black[citation needed]. In addition, Bristol has a large multi-racial community (only 89.3 percent white[citation needed]), as well as a well-integrated youth culture that grew out of the integrated school systems. [2] Under the influence of American hip hop from the 1980s both black and white British youth became consumers of hip hop. Hip hop in the UK was immediately fused with black soul and elements of dancehall.

    The term "Trip hop" was coined by music journalist Andy Pemberton in the UK magazine Mixmag to describe the hip hop instrumental "In/Flux", a 1993 single by DJ Shadow, and other similar tracks released on the Mo' Wax label and being played in London clubs at the time. "In/Flux", with its mixed up bpms, spoken word samples, strings, melodies, bizarre noises, prominent bass, and slow beats, gave the listener the impression they were on a musical trip, according to Pemberton.[3] James Brendall termed the experience of trip-hop with the combination of "computers and dope".

    Massive Attack's first album Blue Lines in 1991, is often seen as the first manifestation of the "Bristol hip hop movement" (known as the "First Coming of Bristol Sound"). 1994 and '95 saw trip hop near the peak of its popularity. Massive Attack released their second album entitled Protection. Those years also marked the rise of Portishead and Tricky. Portishead's female lead singer Beth Gibbons' sullen voice was mixed with samples of music from the '60s and '70s, as well as sound effects from LPs, giving the group a distinctive style. Tricky's style was characterized by murmuring and low-pitched singing. Artists and groups like Portishead and Tricky led the second wave of the Bristol Movement. This second wave produced music that was dreamy and atmospheric, and sometimes deep and gloomy. The British press termed this style of music "trip hop," referring to this evolved style of hip hop; this term should not, however, be confused with the American usage which is closer to rap music.[citation needed] Other seminal, more commercial trip hop albums include "Homebrew" (1992) by Neneh Cherry and "Breath From Another" (1998) by Esthero. These albums, as groundbreaking as they were, sold very poorly regardless.

    Musical Aesthetics

    Trip hop is known for its melancholy aesthetics. This is due to the fact that several acts were inspired by post punk bands; in the 1990s, Massive Attack and Tricky both covered Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure.[4] [5] [6]

    In some instances, the trip hop sound relies on jazz samples, usually taken from old vinyl jazz records. This reliance on sampling has changed the way record labels deal with clearing samples for use in other people's tracks. Trip hop tracks often sample Rhodes pianos, saxophones, trumpets, and flutes, and develops in parallel to hip hop, each inspiring the other. However, categorically, Trip hop differs from hip hop in theme and overall tone. Instead of gangsta rap (e.g. NWA) or conscious rap (e.g. KRS-One) with its hard-hitting lyrics, trip hop offers a more aural atmospherics with instrumental hip-hop, turntable scratching, and breakbeat rhythms. Regarded in some ways as a nineties update of fusion, trip hop transcends the hardcore rap styles and lyrics with atmospheric overtones to create a more mellow tempo that has less to do with black American urbanite attitude and more to do with a middle-class British impression of hip-hop.[citation needed] As Simon Reynolds put it, "trip hop is merely a form of gentrification" [7]

    Trip hop production is historically lo-fi, relying on analogue recording equipment and instrumentation for an ambiance. Portishead, for example, records their material to old tape from real instruments, and then sample their recordings, rather than recording their instruments directly to a track. They also tend to put their drums through considerable compression.

    Later artists have taken inspiration from many other sources including world and orchestral influences as well as film scores. In fact, artists such as DJ Shadow or Portishead extensively used film soundtracks as an influence with its acoustic instruments and orchestral sounds designed to create a mental imagery of a cinematic experience and immerse the listener to a mood of aural reverie rather than a focused attention to social commentaries or lyrics of gangsta rap.


    House music is a style of electronic dance music initially popularized in mid-1980s discothèques catering to the African-American,[1] Latino,[1] then in New York, Detroit, and eventually Europe before becoming infused in mainstream pop & dance music worldwide.

    House music is strongly influenced by elements of soul- and funk-infused varieties of disco. House music generally mimics disco's percussion, especially the use of a prominent bass drum on every beat, but may feature a prominent synthesizer bassline, electronic drums, electronic effects, funk and pop samples, and reverb- or delay-enhanced vocals.

    Musical elements

    House music is uptempo music for dancing, although by modern dance music standards it is mid-tempo, generally ranging between 118 and 135 bpm. Tempos were slower in house music's early years.

    The common element of house music is a prominent kick drum on every beat (also known as a four-to-the-floor beat), usually generated by a drum machine or sampler. The kick drum sound is augmented by various kick fills and extended dropouts. The drum track is filled out with hi-hat cymbal patterns that nearly always include an open hi-hat on eighth note off-beats between each kick, and a snare drum or clap sound on beats two and four of every bar. This pattern is derived from so-called "four-on-the-floor" dance drumbeats of the 1960s and especially the 1970s disco drummers. Producers commonly layer sampled drum sounds to achieve a more complex sound, and they tailor the mix for large club sound systems, de-emphasizing lower mid-range frequencies (where the fundamental frequencies of the human voice and other instruments lie) in favor of bass and hi-hats.

    Producers use many different sound sources for bass sounds in house music, from continuous, repeating electronically-generated lines sequenced on a synthesizer, such as a Roland SH-101 or TB-303, to studio recordings or samples of live electric bassists, or simply filtered-down samples from whole stereo recordings of classic funk tracks or any other songs. House bass lines tend to favor notes that fall within a single-octave range, whereas disco bass lines often alternated between octave-separated notes and would span greater ranges. Some early house productions used parts of bass lines from earlier disco tracks. For example, producer Mark "Hot Rod" Trollan copied bass line sections from the 1983 Italo disco song "Feels Good (Carrots & Beets)" (by Electra featuring Tara Butler) to form the basis of his 1986 production of "Your Love" by Jamie Principle. Frankie Knuckles used the same notes in his more famous 1987 version of "Your Love", which also featured Principle on vocals.

    Electronically-generated sounds and samples of recordings from genres such as jazz, blues and synth pop are often added to the foundation of the drum beat and synth bass line. House songs may also include disco, soul-style, or gospel vocals and additional percussion such as tambourine.

    Techno and trance, which developed alongside house music, share this basic beat infrastructure, but they usually eschew house's live-music-influenced feel and Black or Latin music influences in favor of more synthetic sound sources and approach.


    House music is a descendant of disco, which blended soul, R&B, funk, salsa, rock and pop with celebratory messages about dancing, love, and sexuality, all underpinned with repetitive arrangements and a steady bass drum beat. Some disco songs incorporated sounds produced with synthesizers and drum machines, and some compositions were entirely electronic; examples include Giorgio Moroder late 1970s productions such as Donna Summer's hit single "I Feel Love" from 1977, and several early 1980s disco-pop productions by the Hi-NRG group Lime.

    Other stylistic influences include New Wave, Reggae, European synthpop, industrial and punk, hip hop, and the sparse electronic music of KraftwerkTrans-Europe Express was played in New York discos in 1977.[citation needed]

    House was also influenced by mixing and editing techniques earlier explored by disco DJs, producers, and audio engineers like Walter Gibbons, Tom Moulton, Jim Burgess, Larry Levan, Ron Hardy, M & M and others who produced longer, more repetitive and percussive arrangements of existing disco recordings. Early house music producers like Frankie Knuckles created similar compositions from scratch, using samplers, synthesizers, sequencers, and drum machines.

    The hypnotic electronic dance song "On and On", produced in 1984 by Chicago DJ Jesse Saunders, had elements that became staples of the early house music sound, such as the 303 bass synthesizer and minimal vocals. It is sometimes cited as the 'first house music record',[2][3] although other examples from the same time period, such as J.M. Silk's "Music is the Key" (1985) have also been cited.[4]


    The origins of the term "house music" are disputed. The term may have its origin from a club called the The Warehouse, which was one of the nightclubs that became popular among the teenagers living in the Chicago area in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Warehouse was patronized primarily by gay, black and Latino men,[5] who came to dance to DJ Frankie Knuckles' mix of classic disco, European synthpop, new wave, industrial, and punk recordings. Knuckles released his dance tracks and mixes on D.J. International Records as well as on the Trax Records label. These dance tracks became known as house music. The club gained considerable fame in the mid 70s and grew tremendously towards the end the 70s. Knuckles production's increased at that time, and his mix of the Jamie Principle song "Your Love" is considered by many the track that was the launching pad for house.

    Chip E.'s recording "It's House" may also have helped to define this new form of electronic music.[6] Chip E. claims the name came from methods of labeling records at the Imports Etc. record store, where he worked in the early 1980s; music that DJ Knuckles played at the Warehouse nightclub was labeled in the store "As Heard At The Warehouse", which was shortened to simply "House music".[7]

    Larry Heard, aka "Mr. Fingers", claims[citation needed] that the term "house" reflected the fact that many early DJs created music in their own homes, using synthesizers and drum machines, including the Roland TR-808, TR-909, and the TB 303 Bassline synthesizer-sequencer. These synthesizers were used to create a house music subgenre called acid house.[8]

    Juan Atkins, an originator of Detroit techno music, claims the term "house" reflected the exclusive association of particular tracks with particular DJs; those tracks were their "house" records (much like a restaurant might have a "house" salad dressing).[9]

    Minimal House (Micro House)


    Microhouse has its roots in the minimal techno, glitch (both developed in the early 90's), and house (developed in the mid-80's) genres of music. Its first echoes appeared in the glitch album by German experimental artist Oval, in 1993. Like many contemporary electronic genres, Microhouse has many influences, most notably techno and the "click and pop" garage house that has emerged from Yorkshire Bleeps and Bass (or "Bleep"), glitch and minimal techno. Contrasting with tech house, which is often thought of as 'house with techno melodic elements', microhouse is more aptly described as 'housey minimal techno' - a marriage of the funky and groovy backroom house elements with glitch and the driving, repetitive sound of techno.

    The first microhouse track to gain mainstream popularity by a non-glitch artist was Isolee's 1999 anthem, 'Beau Mot Plage'. However, microhouse did not begin to rapidly build in popularity until the early 2000s with the advent of record labels such as Kompakt, Perlon, Spectral Sound, Fabric, Telegraph and Force Inc. The term microhouse is usually credited to music journalist Philip Sherburne, writing for the magazine The Wire in 2001, to describe, according to Stelfox, "the spectral, hypnotic interpretation of classic Chicago grooves emerging on labels such as Perlon, Kompakt, Playhouse, Ongaku, Klang Elektronik and the Mille Plateaux family of imprints-most notably Force Tracks and Force Inc- at the turn of the millennium."[1]


    Microhouse strips house music down to a more minimal and sparse aesthetic, in the same vein as tech house. Its relationship to house and tech house music can be compared to the relationship between minimal techno and the harder techno genres. Like house and techno, microhouse is built around a 4/4 time signature. A noticeable difference between microhouse and house is the replacement of typical house kick drums, hi-hats and other drum machine samples with clicks, static, glitches, and small bits of noise. Microhouse artists often experiment with different forms of sampling to achieve this effect.

    One characteristic feature of microhouse is the use of sampling: extremely short ('micro') samples of the human voice, musical instruments, everyday noises and computer created wave patterns are arranged to form complex melodies (such as can be heard in Akufen's "Deck the House"). Vocals in microhouse are often simplistic, nonsensical, and monotone in nature, although some artists, such as Matthew Dear, combine singing with microhouse production.

    Microhouse is somewhat obscure when compared to other genres of house and techno, but several cities including Berlin, Cologne, Paris, Montreal, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago and Portland have budding scenes, and with the minimal techno boom of the mid-00s, is now gaining great popularity in German, French, Canadian, Italian and Spanish clubs. Mainstream tech house records and CDs will occasionally have microhouse or minimal reworks of tracks. On top of this, several tracks have become major club hits over the years, and a few others have even gained European radioplay.

    Big Beat


    Almost certainly influenced by the work of studio legend Dougie Wright, big beat tends to feature distorted, compressed breakbeats at moderate tempos (usually between 90 to 140 beats per minute), acid house style synthesizer lines and heavy loops from jazz, rock or 60s pop. They are often punctuated with punkish vocals and driven by intense, distorted basslines with conventional pop and techno song structures. Big beat tracks have a sound that include: crescendos, builds, drops, explosions, crowd-inciting drum rolls, and whooshing sounds that pan across the stereo-field. Big Beat is also characterized by a strong psychedelic influence stemming from the influence of Dougie Wright, Serge Gainsbourg's arrangements and songs, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and the acid house musical movement. Particularly in the style of Fatboy Slim, the genre features a heavily compressed, and a thunderous drum sound (hence the name). It can also contain off-the-wall samples such as explosions, police sirens, and snippets of Turntablism. Big beat is similar to jungle music and drum n bass, both sharing frantic breaks, heavy bass, and an odd "jittery-rhythm" but big beat tends to have more rhythmic loop beats than jungle.


    At the beginning of the 1990s, several local UK electronic music genres converged at several points. The disco scene at that time was very straight and promoted glamour and beauty. Out of many clubs in London a subculture emerged which opposed the pop scene but at the same time wanted to dance to electronic music. Sampling became an integral part of standard studio equipment and made the fusion of many genres easier. Norman Cook first defined the word Big Beat named after his club night 'The Big Beat Boutique', which was held on Fridays at Brighton's now demolished Concorde club. The music played there combined breakbeats, rock, funk, drum'n'bass, industrial, jazz, acid house, hip hop and trance. The term caught on, and was subsequently applied to a wide variety of acts, notably Bentley Rhythm Ace, Lionrock, Monkey Mafia, Meat Beat Manifesto (who had been making similar music since the late eighties and inspired the whole genre), Lunatic Calm, Death in Vegas and David Holmes.

    Big Beat was later brought into the American mainstream because of the "rock-like" qualities found in the music of acts such as The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy. By mixing their electronic elements with the characteristics of post-grunge, The Prodigy was able to popularize the Big Beat genre even more. "Firestarter" was The Prodigy's first big national and international hit. Because of their cross-genre sound, the band was booked to play rock festivals causing rock fans to appreciate their electronic style and opening a gateway for other Big Beat musicians. The band released their third album, The Fat of the Land, in 1997 and it topped both the UK and US charts along with the charts of twenty or so other countries.

    Other notable Big Beat acts include The Crystal Method, Overseer, Adam Freeland, Propellerheads, many artists signed to Brighton's Skint label and London's Wall Of Sound label, and the later work of The Prodigy. By the time of the latter's successful 1997 album The Fat of the Land, the music press in America was increasingly drawn to using the catch-all term 'electronica' to describe the Big Beat sound. The Big Beat movement started to decline by 1999, due to the genre's tendency for playing out samples, and a general dumbing down of electronica in the late 1990s[citation needed]. Artists started to diversify their sound with other genres such as Trance (Chemical Brothers), Soul and Gospel (Fatboy Slim). However, Big Beat had left an indelible mark on popular music as a true incarnation of rave music, even though it sounded "rock". Without this association to rock, some have argued that it never would have reached the heights that it did, or talked to as many listeners as it did. [1] The genre's mainstream popularity was to be taken by funky house, then later electro house in the mid-2000s.

    Big Beat acts such as The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim have collaborated on a variety of musical styles from rave, house, rap, disco, etc. In "Generation Ectasy", Reynolds says, "they've reminded us that dance music is supposed to be about fun, about freaky dancing as opposed to head nodding and train spotting."[1]

    Drum & Bass/Jungle

    Drum and bass (commonly abbreviated to d&b, DnB, dnb, d'n'b, drum n bass, drum & bass; also known as jungle) is a type of electronic dance music which emerged in the late 1980s. The genre is characterized by fast breakbeats (generally between 160–180 bpm, but also having occasional differences in some older compositions), with heavy sub basslines. Drum and bass began as an offshoot of the UK's rave scene of the very early 90s, and over the first decade of its existence there were many permutations in its style, incorporating elements from different musical genres.


    A musical style called acid house developed in the UK in the mid to late 1980s and early 1990s, along with a "scene" which consisted of related social activities in nightclubs and other venues. Acid house music combined regular beats alongside broken, syncopated beats, strong basslines and a faster tempo than the regular house music. By 1991, musical tracks made up of only "broken" beats began to be known as "jungle" and became a separate musical genre (circa 1991-1992) popular at raves and on pirate radio in urban Britain.

    These tracks often combined ragga vocal tracks with broken beats and basslines. By 1994 jungle began to gain mainstream popularity and fans of the music (known as junglists) became a recognizable part of British youth subculture. The sound took on a very urban, raggamuffin sound, incorporating dancehall "ragga" style mc chants, dub basslines, but also increasingly complex, high tempo rapid fire breakbeat percussion. At this time jungle began to be associated with criminals and criminal activity and perhaps as a reaction or perhaps independently of this, producers began to draw away from the ragga style and create what they labeled drum and bass. There is no clear point at which jungle became drum and bass, though most jungle producers continue nowadays to produce what they call drum and bass.

    As the music style became more polished and sophisticated, it began to shift from pirate to commercial radio and gain widespread acceptance (circa 1995-1997). It also began to split into recognizable sub genres such as jump-up. As a lighter sound of drum and bass began to win over the musical mainstream, many producers continued to work on the other end of the spectrum, resulting in a series of releases which highlighted a dark, technical sound which drew more influence from techno music and the soundscapes of science fiction and anime films, this sub-genre became know as techstep (circa 1997-1998).

    While evolving musically, drum and bass found itself suddenly upstarted by the UK garage sound, which drew a key part of its inspiration from drum and bass. This genre quickly eclipsed drum and bass in popularity and nearing the turn of the millennium, statements were made to the effect that "drum and bass is dead". Drum and bass however survived this event and the turn of the millennium has seen a revival in its popularity and continuing development, i.e. the appearance of the liquid funk subgenre which draws its inspiration from house and disco alongside a new wave of artists, joining the "jungle" pioneers. It remains a fairly unknown musical style but makes frequent unrecognized appearance in the mainstream as well as being highly influential on other musical styles and some of its artists, notably Goldie, are widely known. It remains most popular in its birthplace in the UK but has spread worldwide over the short period of its existence.[1]

    Musicology of Drum and Bass

    There are many views of what constitutes "real" drum and bass as it has many scenes and styles within it, from the highly electronic, industrial sounds of techstep through to the use of conventional, acoustic instrumentation that characterize the more jazz-influenced end of the spectrum. It has been compared with jazz where the listener can get very different sounding music all coming under the same music genre, because like jazz, it is more of an approach, or a tradition, than a style.[3] The sounds of drum and bass are extremely varied - and to a person unfamiliar to them, there may seem to be little connection between the sub genres. One common, though by no means universal, element is a prominent snare drum falling on the 2nd & 4th beats, with a less regular kick pattern around it.

    Drum and bass could at one time be defined as a strictly electronic musical genre with the only 'live' element being the DJ's selection and mixing of records during a set. 'Live' drum and bass using electric, electronic and acoustic instruments played by musicians on stage has appeared and is a growing aspect of the genre.[4][5][6]

    For the already mentioned reasons, the musicology of drum and bass is difficult to precisely define; however, the following key characteristics may be observed:

    Importance of drum and bassline elements

    The name "drum and bass" should not lead to the assumption that tracks are constructed solely from these elements. Nevertheless, they are by far the most critical features, and usually dominate the mix of a track. Despite the apparent simplicity of drum and bass productions to the untrained ear, an inordinate amount of time is spent on preparing tracks by the more experienced producers.

    The genre places great importance on the "bass line", a deep sub-bass musical pattern which is felt physically as much as it is heard. There has also been considerable exploration of different timbres in the bass line region, particularly within techstep. Bass lines exist in many forms, but most notably they originate from sampled sources or synthesizers. Bass lines performed with a bass instrument, whether it is electric, acoustic or a double bass, are rare. An example of drum and bass played live with an electric bass can be found in the work of bands such as Squarepusher and STS9. Sampled basslines are often taken from double bass recordings or from publicly available loops. Synthesized bass lines are however just as common.

    In drum and bass productions, the bass lines are subjected to many and varied sound effects, including standard techniques such as dynamic compression, flanger, chorus, over-drive, equalization, etc. and drum and bass specific techniques such as the "Reese Bass", a distinctive synthesized bass sound comprising layered 'clashing' sawtooth waves. Kevin Saunderson's 1988 classic "Just Another Chance" is widely recognized as the earliest example of the use of this technique.

    Of equal importance is the "808" kick drum, an artificially pitch-downed or elongated bass drum sound sampled from Roland's classic TR-808 drum machine, and a sound which has been subject to an enormous amount of experimentation over the years.[7]

    These bass techniques are fully appreciated in a club or rave environments where high quality woofers and powerful amplifiers are required to fully reproduce the eponymous basslines at high volume levels. This has led to the creation of very large and intensely loud touring soundsystems by producers wishing to show off their tracks, such as dubs from Soundman and dubs from Dillinja's Valve Sound System. This does not mean, however, that the music cannot be appreciated at home or accurately reproduced on personal equipment.

    The complex syncopation of the drum tracks' breakbeat, is another facet of production on which producers spend a very large amount of time. A drum phrase lasting seconds may often take a day or more to prepare, depending on the dedication of the producer. The Amen break is generally acknowledged to have been the most-used (and often considered the most powerful) break in drum and bass.[8]

    It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that drum and bass (at least in its early days) was a style built around a single broken beat element which was a single sample, the Amen, but other samples have had a significant impact, including the Apache break, the Funky Drummer, and others.[9] The Funky Drummer has perhaps superseded the Amen in modern productions.

    A commonly used break is the Tramen, a combined beat that is perhaps the ultimate statement on the fusion of musical styles in drum and bass as it combines the Amen, a James Brown funk breakbeat ("Tighten Up" or "Samurai" break) and an Alex Reece drum and bass breakbeat.[10]

    The very fast (objectively) drum beat forms a canvas on which a producer can create tracks to appeal to almost any taste and often will form only a background to the other elements of the music. However, without a fast & broken beat, a drum and bass track would not be a drum and bass track but could be classified as a gabber, techno, breaks or house music track.[11]


    Drum and bass is usually between 160-180 BPM, in contrast to other forms of breakbeat such as nu skool breaks which maintain a slower pace at around 130-140 BPM. A general upward trend in tempo has been observed during the evolution of drum and bass. The earliest old skool rave was around 125/135 bpm in 1989/1991, early (late 1992-1993) jungle/breakbeat hardcore was around 155-165 BPM. Since around 1996, drum and bass tempos have predominantly stayed in the 173 to 180 range. Recently some producers have started to once again produce tracks with slower tempos (i.e. in the 150s and 160s), but the mid-170 tempo is still the hallmark of the drum and bass sound.[12][13]

    A track combining the same elements (broken beat, bass, production techniques) as a drum and bass track, but with a slower beat (say 140 BPM), would not be drum and bass but a drum and bass-influenced breakbeat track.[14]

    The speed of drum and bass is not however only characterized by that of the broken beat. Drum and bass has a bassline, which will typically play at half the speed of the drums, bringing its speed down to that of, for instance, a laid back hip-hop track. A listener or dancer can concentrate on this element rather than the faster drums.

    Since the speed of music is subjective, an aggressively produced track with a complicated beat and synthesizer sounds may 'sound faster' than one with a sampled double bass bassline, guitar riffs and simpler beat, however the second track may be in strict BPM terms faster. Radio friendly tracks like Shy FX's "Shake Ur Body" often have higher BPMs than ominous techstep productions which might eject the uninitiated very quickly from a dancefloor.

    The faster a track is in BPM terms, the less complex its drum patterns can be because at higher step the elements cease to be heard separately, turning them into a wall of sound. A faster drum and bass track will therefore generally have a less complex drum pattern than a slower one.

    Live performances of drum and bass music on electric and acoustic instruments will often entail a drop in relative BPM (though not necessarily), unsurprising in light of the complexity of drum patterns and the high exertion required of a drummer.


    For the most part, drum and bass is a form of dance music, mostly designed to be heard in clubs. It exhibits a full frequency response and physicality which often cannot be fully appreciated on home listening equipment. As befits its name, the bass element of the music is particularly pronounced, with the comparatively sparse arrangements of drum and bass tracks allowing room for basslines that are deeper than most other forms of dance music. Consequently, drum and bass parties are often advertised as featuring uncommonly loud and bass-heavy sound systems.[15][16]

    There are however many albums specifically designed for personal listening. The mix CD is a particularly popular form of release, with a big name DJ/producer mixing live, or on a computer, a variety of tracks for personal listening. Additionally, there are many albums containing unmixed tracks, suited for home or car listening.[17]

    Importance of the DJ and MC

    ‎Drum and bass is often heard via a DJ. Because most tracks are designed to be mixed by a DJ, their structure typically reflects this, with intro and outro sections designed for a DJ to use while beat-matching, rather than being designed to be heard in entirety by the listener. The DJ typically mixes between records so as not to lose the continuous beat. In addition, the DJ may employ hip hop style "scratching", "double-drops" (where two tracks are synchronized such that both tracks drop at the same time) and "rewinds."[18]

    Many mixing points begin or end with the "drop". The drop is the point in a track where a switch of rhythm or bassline occurs and usually follows a recognizable build section and "breakdown". Sometimes the drop is used to switch between tracks, layering components of different tracks, though as the two records may be simply ambient breakdowns at this point, though some DJs prefer to combine breakbeats, a more difficult exercise. Some drops are so popular that the DJ will "rewind" or "reload" by spinning the record back and restarting it at the build. "The drop" is often a key point from the point of view of the dancefloor, since the drum breaks often fade out to leave an ambient intro playing. When the beats re-commence they are often more complex and accompanied by a heavier bassline, encouraging the crowd to dance. The name of a genre of drum and bass, "jump up" initially referred to the urge for those seated to dance at this point.

    DJ support (that is playing a track) in a club atmosphere or on radio is critical in track success, even if the track producer is well known.[19] To this end, DJ's will receive dubplates a long time before a general release of a track, sometimes many months before, in order to spark interest in it as well as benefit the DJ (exclusive and early access to tracks is a hallmark of DJ success, i.e. the case of Andy C). Sometimes a DJ will receive versions of tracks that are not planned for general release, these are so-called VIP mixes.

    DJs are often accompanied by one or more MC's, drawing on the genre's roots in hip hop and reggae/ragga.[20]

    The role of MCs in the music cannot be underestimated but they do not generally receive the same level of recognition as producer/DJ's. There are relatively few well-known drum and bass MC's, Dynamite MC, MC Fats, MC Conrad, Skibadee, Shabba D, Eksman, Bassman, MC Fun and Stevie Hyper D (deceased) as examples.[21]

    Jungle vs. Drum & Bass

    Nowadays the difference between jungle (or oldschool jungle) and drum and bass is a common debate within the "junglist" community. There is no universally accepted semantic distinction between the terms "jungle" and "drum and bass". Some associate "jungle" with older material from the first half of the 1990s (sometimes referred to as "jungle techno"), and see drum and bass as essentially succeeding jungle. Others use jungle as a shorthand for ragga jungle, a specific sub-genre within the broader realm of drum and bass. In the U.S., the combined term "jungle drum and bass" (JDB) has some popularity, but is not widespread elsewhere.

    Proponents of a distinction between jungle and drum and bass argue that:

    • Drum and bass has an integrated percussion and bass structure while jungle has a distinct bass line separated from the percussion.

    • The relatively simple drum break beats of modern drum and bass (generally a two-step beat) are less complex than the 'chopped' 'Amen' breakbeats of jungle[23]

    • The usage of ragga vocals differs drum and bass from jungle.

    • Jungle is the music of the early nineties and drum and bass appeared at a later time.

    Opponents of a distinction would argue that there are many modern drum & bass productions with separated basslines, complex breakbeats and ragga vocals.

    Probably the widest held viewpoint is that the terms are simply synonymous and interchangeable: drum and bass is jungle, and jungle is drum and bass.

    "At the end of the day I am an ambassador for Drum and Bass the world over and have been playing for 16 years under the name Hype... To most of you out there Drum and Bass will be an important part of your lives, but for me Drum and Bass/Jungle is my life and always has been... We all have a part to play and believe me when I say I am no fucking bandwagon jumper, just a hard working Hackney man doing this thing called Drum and Bass/Jungle." DJ Hype[24]

    "Live" Drum & Bass

    Many music groups and musicians, such as Shapeshifter, STS9, London Elektricity and Jojo Mayer's Nerve have taken drum and bass to "live" performances, which features an acoustic drum kit, synthesizers, bass (upright or electronic), and other instruments. Samplers have also been taken live by playing samples on drum pads or synthesizers, assigning samples to a specific drum pad or key. MCs are frequently featured in live performances.

    A recent example is Pendulum's Tour Of The Americas, where live instruments and MCing were heavily used to recreate, but also further enrich the original sound of the songs played.

    IDM (Intelligent Dance Music)

    Intelligent dance music (commonly IDM) is a popular name for an electronic music genre that emerged in the early 1990s at the end of the British rave era. The genre is influenced by a wide range of musical styles particularly electronic dance music (EDM) such as Detroit Techno.[1][2]Stylistically, IDM tends to rely upon individualistic experimentation rather than on a particular set of musical characteristics.[3] The range of post-techno [4] styles to emerge in the early 1990s were described variously as ambient techno, intelligent techno, and electronica. In America the latter term is now used by the music industry as a catchall to describe EDM and its many derivatives.

    The term IDM is said to have originated in the United States in 1993 with the formation of the IDM list, an electronic mailing list originally charted for the discussion of music by (but not limited to) a number of prominent English artists, especially those appearing on a 1992 Warp Records compilation called Artificial Intelligence. The term is still seen by some as being peculiar to the U.S.[5][6] but it is routinely used by music journalists, record labels, and fans on both sides on the Atlantic.[7]


    At the tail end of the British rave era a number of UK based electronic musicians were inspired by the underground dance music of the time and started to explore experimental forms of EDM production. By the early 1990s the music associated with this experimentation had gained prominence with releases on a variety of record labels including Warp Records (1989), Black Dog Productions (1989), R & S Records (1989), Carl Craig's Planet E, Rising High Records (1991), Richard James's Rephlex Records (1991), Kirk Degiorgio's Applied Rhythmic Technology (1991), Eevo Lute Muzique (1991), General Production Recordings (1991), Soma Quality Recordings (1991), Peacefrog Records (1991), and Metamorphic Recordings (1992).

    By 1992 Warp Records was marketing the musical output of the artists on its roster using the description electronic listening music, but this was quickly replaced by intelligent techno.[8] In the same period (1992–93), other names were also used, such as armchair techno, ambient techno, and electronica,[9] but all were attempts to describe an emerging offshoot of electronic dance music that was being enjoyed by the "sedentary and stay at home".[10] Steve Beckett, co-owner of Warp, has said that the electronic music the label was releasing at that point was targeting a post-club home listing audience.[11] By 1993 a number of new record labels emerged that would also gain a reputation for their intelligent techno geared releases, such as New Electronica (1993), Mille Plateaux (1993), 100% Pure (1993), and Ferox.

    Artificial Intelligence

    In 1992, Warp released Artificial Intelligence, the first album in the Artificial Intelligence series. Subtitled "electronic listening music from Warp", the record was a collection of tracks from artists such as Autechre, B12, The Black Dog, Aphex Twin, and The Orb, under various aliases.[12] These artists, among others, would eventually become the main topics of conversation in the Intelligent Dance Music List, an electronic mailing list founded in August 1993.

    The IDM List

    In November 1991, the phrase "intelligent techno" appeared on Usenet in reference to Coil's The Snow EP.[13] Another instance of the phrase appeared on Usenet in April 1993 in reference to The Black Dog's album Bytes.[14] Wider public use of such terms on the Internet did not come until August 1993, when Alan Parry announced the existence of a new electronic mailing list for discussion of "intelligent" dance music: the Intelligent Dance Music list, or IDM List for short.[15][16]The first message, sent on August 1, 1993, was entitled "Can Dumb People Enjoy IDM, Too?".[17] A reply from the list server's system administrator, Brian Behlendorf, revealed that Parry originally wanted to create a list devoted to discussion of the music on the Rephlex label, but they decided together to expand its charter to include music similar to what was on Rephlex or that was in different genres but which had been made with similar approaches. They picked the word "intelligent" because it had already appeared on Artificial Intelligence and because it connoted being something beyond just music for dancing, while still being open to interpretation.[18]Artists that appeared in the first discussions on the list included Autechre, Atom Heart, LFO, and Rephlex Records artists such as Aphex Twin, µ-ziq, and Luke Vibert; plus artists such as The Orb, Richard H. Kirk, and Future Sound of London, and even artists like System 7, William Orbit, Sabres of Paradise, Orbital, Plastikman and Björk.As of 2008, the mailing list is still active.


    Trance is a style of electronic dance music developed in the 1990s. Trance music is generally characterized by a tempo of between approximately 128 and 160 BPM, melodic synthesizer phrases, and a musical form that builds up and down throughout a track. Trance is a combination of many forms of electronic music, such as ambient, techno, and house. Trance has been described as "Classical melodies with Jungle rhythms".

    The origin of the term "Trance" is ambiguous, with some suggesting that the term is derived from the Klaus Schulze album Trancefer (1981), Amon Düül II's Vive La Trance (1973) (as typified by the track Mozambique),[1][2] or the early trance act Dance 2 Trance. It's also been noted that trance shares a number of similarities found on Neil Young's electronic Trans album.



    In the early 1980s, the German composer Klaus Schulze composed several albums of experimental, atmospheric "space music". Two of his albums from the 1980s include the word "trance" in their titles: Trancefer (1981) and En=Trance (1987).

    Some of the earliest identifiable trance recordings came from The KLF, a UK-based acid house group. The most notable of these were the original 1988 / 1989 versions of "What Time Is Love?" and "3 a.m. Eternal", along with "Kylie Said Trance" (1989) and "Last Train to Trancentral" (1990). The KLF labeled these early recordings "Pure Trance". While the KLF's works are clear examples of proto-trance, two songs, both from 1990, are widely regarded as being the first "true" trance records. The first is Age of Love's self-titled debut single which they released in early 1990 and is seen a basis for the original trance sound to come out of Germany, Some consider "The Age of Love" to be the first true trance single. The second track was Dance 2 Trance's "We Came in Peace", the b-side of their own self-titled debut single. Another influential song was Future Sound Of London's "Papua New Guinea" (1991). New Order have also said to have had a hand in establishing what Dance music is today. Similarly, but more specifically to trance, Robert Miles.

    The trance sound beyond this acid-era genesis is said to have been an off-shoot of techno in German clubs during the very early 1990s. Germany is often cited as a birthplace of trance culture and is celebrated once a year in the "Love Parade" festival. Some of the earliest pioneers of the genre include Jam El Mar, Oliver Lieb, and Sven Väth, who all produced numerous tracks under multiple aliases. Trance labels such as Eye Q, Harthouse, Rising High Records, FAX +49-69/450464 and MFS Records were based in Frankfurt.

    Trance Production

    Trance usually employs a 4/4 time signature, a tempo of 130 to 160 BPM, and 32 beat phrases, somewhat faster than house music but usually not as fast as rave music. Psychedelic Trance is sometimes faster and earlier tracks were sometimes slower. A kick drum is placed on every downbeat and a regular open hi-hat is often placed on the upbeat; a type of beat also colloquially known as "four-to-the-floor". Some simple extra percussive elements are usually added, and major transitions, builds or climaxes are often foreshadowed by lengthy "snare rolls" - a quick succession of equally spaced snare drum hits that builds in volume towards the end of a measure or phrase. Unlike House and Garage music, Trance tends to add interest to tracks not through complexity of rhythm but through complexity of melody and harmony; as a result Trance tracks tend to have a simple (i.e. non-varying) beat which acts as a foundation for complex chordal and melodic structures which are further emphasized by the heavy use of electronic music production technology, such as synthesizers, samplers and effect units (most notably for Trance, Reverb and Delay effects). Flangers, phasers and other effects are also commonly used at extreme settings but these settings can be (and often are) 'tweaked' over time, creating further interest by adding cycles or emotional tension and release. As an example of this the volume, cutoff and/or resonance parameters of a synthesized arpeggio can be slowly increased over a period of time, resulting in a variation which is calculated to form a particular emotional response in the listener. As in most electronic music, there is no need or demand for resulting sounds to resemble any real-world instrument, so producers have free creative rein. However, modern Progressive and Uplifting Trance tracks do make use of pianos and other "orchestral" or conventional and non-electronic instruments.

    Synthesizers form the central elements of most trance tracks, with sawtooth-based sounds used both for short pizzicato elements and for long, sweeping string sounds. As with other genres of electronic music, many artists use synthesizers such as the Roland TR-808, TR-909, and TB-303, the latter being the source of the "acid" sound. There are also several synthesizer sounds that are almost completely unique to its genre. One of these sounds is the "supersaw", a waveform was made famous by such synthesizers as the Roland JP-8000, the Novation Supernova, and the Korg MS2000. A technique called "gating" is often employed in creating lead sounds (turning the volume up and down rapidly in rhythm with the piece to create a stuttered, chopped sound). Rapid arpeggios and minor scales are common features. Trance tracks often use one central "hook" melody which runs through almost the entire track, repeating at intervals anywhere between 2 beats and several bars.

    Traditionally, trance uses classical music as its base. Many "classical" songs have in fact been "remixed" in a modern trance style. Many trance songs use jazz as their base.

    While many trance tracks contain no vocals at all, other tracks rely heavily on vocals, and thus a sub-genre known as Vocal Trance has developed. The sound and quality of the production relies to a large degree upon the technology available. Vintage analog equipment is popular with many producers, with names such as Moog, Roland and Oberheim being staples in the trance sound palette. Modern music creation software can emulate the sound of classic "synth's".

    Trance tracks are usually built with sparser intros and outro's in order to enable DJ's to blend them together more readily. This is known as "Mixing" or "Beat Matching". This also works as a build up and wind down and in modern trance the intros and outros do not resemble the main part of the song very closely. Records that adhere to this "build up, strip down" arrangement during intros and outro's are referred as being "DJ friendly". As trance is more melodic and harmonic than much dance music, the construction of trance tracks in such a way is particularly important in order to avoid dissonant (or "key clashing," i.e., out of tune with one another) mixes by DJ's who do not mix harmonically. DJ's who can successfully "Key Mix" will find more popularity with listeners as there are no obvious breaks in the music, assisting with a journey that is not interrupted.

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