Friday, January 8, 2010

Dubstep Songwriting Structure (abridged)



Dubstep rhythms are usually syncopated, and often shuffled or incorporating triplets. The tempo is nearly always in the range of 138-142bpm.[8] Dubstep rhythms typically do not follow the four-to-the-floor patterns common in many other styles of electronic dance music such as techno and house, but instead tend to rely on a kickdrum based around the first and third beat of a bar (a characteristic inherited from 2-step garage) and longer percussion loops than the four-bar phrases present in much techno or house. Often, a track's percussion will follow a pattern which when heard alone will appear to be playing at half the tempo of the track; the double-time feel is instead achieved by other elements, usually the bassline. An example of this tension generated by the conflicting tempo is Skream's Rutten, which features a very sparse rhythm almost entirely composed of kick drum, snare drum, and a sparse hi-hat, with a distinctly half time implied 69bpm tempo. The track is instead propelled by a constant sub-bass following a four to the floor 138bpm pattern, and a sampled flute phrase.

Structure, Bass drops, Rewinds and MC's

Originally, dubstep releases had some structure similarities to other genres like drum and bass and UK garage. Typically this would comprise an intro, a main section (often incorporating a bass drop), a midsection, a second main section similar to the first (often with another drop), and an outro.
Many dubstep tracks incorporate one or more "bass drops", a characteristic inherited from drum 'n' bass. Typically, the percussion will pause, often reducing the track to silence, and then resume with more intensity, accompanied by a dominant subbass (often passing portamento through an entire octave or more, as in the audio example). However, this is by no means a completely rigid characteristic, rather a trope; a large portion of seminal tunes from producers like Kode9 and Horsepower Productions have more experimental song structures which don't rely on a drop for a dynamic peak - and in some instances don't feature a bass drop at all.

Rewinds (or reloads)[12] are another technique used by dubstep DJs. If a song seems to be especially popular, the DJ will 'spin back' the record by hand without lifting the stylus, and play the track in question again. Rewinds are also an important live element in many of dubstep's precursors; the technique originates in dub reggae soundsystems, and is also used at UK garage and jungle nights.[13]
Taking direct cues from Jamaica's lyrically sparse deejay and toasting mic styles in the vein of reggae pioneers like U-Roy, the MC's role in dubstep's live experience is critically important to its impact.[14] As the music is largely instrumental, the MC operates in a similar context to drum and bass and is generally more of a complement to the music rather than the deliverer of lyrical content.[15]

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