Break (music)

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In popular music, a break is an instrumental or percussion section during a song derived from or related to stop-time – being a "break" from the main parts of the song or piece. A break is usually interpolated between sections of a song, to provide a sense of anticipation, signal the start of a new section, or create variety in the arrangement.

Contents

Jazz

A solo break in jazz occurs when the rhythm section (piano, bass, drums) stops playing behind a soloist for a brief period, usually two or four bars leading into the soloist's first improvised solo chorus (at which point the rhythm section resumes playing). A notable recorded example is sax player Charlie Parker's solo break at the beginning of his solo on "A Night in Tunisia". While the solo break is a break for the rhythm section, for the soloist, it is a solo cadenza, where they are expected to improvise an interesting and engaging melodic line.

DJing and dance music

In DJ parlance, in disco, hip hop and electronic dance music, a break is where all the elements of a song (e.g., synth pads, basslines, vocals), except for percussion, disappear; as such, the break is also called a "percussion break".

This is distinguished from a breakdown, a section where the composition is deliberately deconstructed to minimal elements (usually the percussion or rhythm section with the vocal re-introduced over the minimal backing), all other parts having been gradually or suddenly cut out. [1] The distinction between breaks and breakdowns may be described as, "Breaks are for the drummer; breakdowns are for electronic producers". [1] In hip hop music and electronica, a short break is also known as a "cut", and the reintroduction of the full bass line and drums is known as a "drop", which is sometimes accented by cutting off everything, even the percussion right before the full music is dropped back in.

Hip hop

Old-school hip-hop DJs have described the relationship between breaks, early hip-hop music, and disco. According to Afrika Bambaataa: [2]

Now he took the music of like Mandrill, like "Fencewalk", certain disco records that had funky percussion breaks like the Incredible Bongo Band when they came out with "Apache" and he just kept that beat going. It might be that certain part of the record that everybody waits for—they just let their inner self go and get wild. The next thing you know the singer comes back in and you'd be mad.

Musicologist David Toop, based on interviews with DJ Grandmaster Flash, Kool DJ Herc, and others, has written: [3]

Break-beat music and hip-hop culture were happening at the same time as the emergence of disco (in 1974 known as party music). Disco was also created by DJs in its initial phase, though these tended to be club jocks rather than mobile party jocks – records by Barry White, Eddie Kendricks and others became dancefloor hits in New York clubs like Tamberlane and Sanctuary and were crossed over onto radio by Frankie Crocker at station WBLS. There were many parallels in the techniques used by Kool DJ Herc and a pioneering disco DJ like Francis Grasso, who worked at Sanctuary, as they used similar mixtures and superimpositions of drumbeats, rock music, funk and African records For less creative disco DJs, however, the ideal was to slip-cute smoothly from the end of one record into the beginning of the next. They also created a context for breaks rather than foregrounding them, and the disco records which emerged out of the influence of this type of mixing tended to feature long introductions, anthemic choruses and extended vamp sections, all creating a tension which was released by the break. Break-beat music simply ate the cherry off the top of the cake and threw the rest away. In the words of DJ Grandmaster Flash, "Disco was brand new then and there were a few jocks that had monstrous sound systems but they wouldn't dare play this kind of music. They would never play a record where only two minutes of the song was all it was worth. They wouldn't buy those types of records. The type of mixing that was out then was blending from one record to the next or waiting for the record to go off and wait for the jock to put the needle back on."

Hip hop, disco, and eroticism

DJ Kool Herc's innovative use of the break-beat came about through his observations of dancers and desire to give them what they wanted. In this case the who was b-boys (otherwise known as break-boys or breakdancers) and what they wanted was an opportunity to move explosively, express themselves, and peacock to women (Brester and Broughton 167). [4] This grounds the conception of the innovation both in the embodied movements of the dancers and in the eroticism and sexuality of the b-boys themselves. As hip-hop used a number of disco tracks, and a number of afro-american and Latin American tracks popularized by disco record pools, the eroticism brought out by these tracks can be presumed to be replicated in these hip-hops mixes, albeit altered through the emphasis and repetition of the break-beat. This suggests strong ties between hip-hop and disco so far as their vibrations, in that both are dancer focused and as such the corporeal vibrations between the embodied sensual movements of the dancers and the sounding of the DJ are resonating off each other to create a space for expression and eroticism in the club.

Break

A break may be described as when the song takes a "breather, drops down to some exciting percussion, and then comes storming back again" [1] and compared to a false ending. Breaks usually occur two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through a song. [1] According to Peter van der Merwe [5] a break "occurs when the voice stops at the end of a phrase and is answered by a snatch of accompaniment", and originated from the bass runs of marches of the "Sousa school". In this case it would be a "break" from the vocal part. In bluegrass and other old-time music, a break is "when an instrument plays the melody to a song idiomatically, i.e. the back-up played on the banjo for a mandolin 'break' may differ from that played for a dobro 'break' in the same song". [6]

According to David Toop, [7] "the word break or breaking is a music and dance term, as well as a proverb, that goes back a long way. Some tunes, like 'Buck Dancer's Lament' from early in the nineteenth century, featured a two-bar silence in every eight bars for the break—a quick showcase of improvised dance steps. Others used the same device for a solo instrumental break; a well-known example being the four-bar break taken by Charlie Parker in Dizzy Gillespie's tune 'Night in Tunisia'."

However, in hip hop today, the term break refers to any segment of music (usually four measures or less) that could be sampled and repeated. A break is any expanse of music that is thought of as a break by a producer. In the words of DJ Jazzy Jay: "Maybe those records [whose breaks are sampled] were ahead of their time. Maybe they were made specifically for the rap era; these people didn't know what they were making at that time. They thought, 'Oh, we want to make a jazz record'". [8]

Breakbeat (element of music)

A break beat is the sampling of breaks as (drum loop) beats, (originally found in soul or funk tracks) and their subsequent use as the rhythmic basis for hip hop and rap. It was invented by DJ Kool Herc, a Jamaican who emigrated to New York. He is usually credited with being a pioneer of the technique of using two copies of one record so as to be able to mix between the same break, [9] or, as Bronx DJ Afrika Bambaataa describes, "that certain part of the record that everybody waits for—they just let their inner self go and get wild", extending its length through repetition. [7] However, it is likely that there were a number of like-minded DJs developing the technique at the same time; for example, Walter Gibbons was noted in first-hand accounts by his peers for cutting two copies of the same record in his discothèque gigs of the mid 1970s.[ citation needed ]A particularly innovative style of street dance was created to accompany break beat-based music, and was hence referred to as "The Break", or breaking. In the 1980s, charismatic dancers like Crazy Legs, Frosty Freeze, and the Rock Steady Crew revived the breaking movement. More recently, electronic artists have created "break beats" from other electronic music, resulting in a broad style classification itself called breakbeat. Hip-hop break beat compilations include Hardcore Break Beats and Break Beats, and Drum Drops. [7] It was during the break beats of the song that break dancers and b-boys and girls would become the focus of attention and demonstrate their personal flair. DJ Kool Herc inspired local dancers to dance on the break beats, creating new sounds by combining the breakbeats from various songs. [10]

Notable examples

Musical ensembles which are notable for their use of breaks include the Meters, Creative Source, the J.B.'s, the Blackbyrds, and the Last Poets. [7]

Notable breaks include:

See also

Related Research Articles

Drum and bass is a genre of electronic music characterised by fast breakbeats with heavy bass and sub-bass lines, samples, and synthesizers. The genre grew out of the UK's jungle scene in the early 1990s.

Disc jockey Name for person who plays recorded music for an audience

A disc jockey, more commonly abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays recorded music for an audience. Most common types of DJs include radio DJs, club DJs, mobile DJs, and turntablists. Originally, the "disc" in "disc jockey" referred to shellac and later vinyl records, but nowadays DJ is used as an all-encompassing term to also describe persons who mix music from other recording media such as cassettes, CDs or digital audio files on a CDJ, controller, or even a laptop. DJs may adopt the title "DJ" in front of their real names, adopted pseudonyms, or stage names.

Old-school hip hop is the earliest commercially recorded hip hop music. It typically refers to music created around 1979 to 1983.

New school hip hop Movement in hip hop music

The new school of hip hop was a movement in hip hop music starting 1983–84 with the early records of Run–D.M.C. and LL Cool J. Like the hip hop preceding it, it came predominantly from New York City. The new school was initially characterized in form by drum machine led minimalism, often tinged with elements of rock. It was notable for taunts and boasts about rapping, and socio-political commentary, both delivered in an aggressive, self-assertive style. In image as in song its artists projected a tough, cool, street b-boy attitude. These elements contrasted sharply with the funk and disco influenced outfits, novelty hits, live bands, synthesizers and party rhymes of artists prevalent in 1984, and rendered them old school. New school artists made shorter songs that could more easily gain radio play, and more cohesive LPs than their old school counterparts. By 1986 their releases began to establish the hip hop album as a fixture of the mainstream.

Breakbeat is a broad type of electronic music that utilizes breaks, often with the main rhythm being sampled from early recordings of funk, jazz, and R&B. Breakbeats have been used in styles such as hip hop, jungle, drum and bass, big beat, breakbeat hardcore, and UK garage styles.

Jungle is a genre of dance music that developed out of the UK rave scene and sound system culture in the 1990s. Emerging from breakbeat hardcore, the style is characterized by rapid breakbeats, heavily syncopated percussive loops, samples, and synthesized effects, combined with the deep basslines, melodies, and vocal samples found in dub, reggae and dancehall, as well as hip hop and funk. Many producers frequently sampled the "Amen break" or other breakbeats from funk and jazz recordings. Jungle was a direct precursor to the drum and bass genre which emerged in the mid 1990s.

Scratching

Scratching, sometimes referred to as scrubbing, is a DJ and turntablist technique of moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable to produce percussive or rhythmic sounds. A crossfader on a DJ mixer may be used to fade between two records simultaneously.

Turntablism

Turntablism is the art of manipulating sounds and creating new music, sound effects, mixes and other creative sounds and beats, typically by using two or more turntables and a cross fader-equipped DJ mixer. The mixer is plugged into a PA system for live events and/or broadcasting equipment so that a wider audience can hear the turntablist's music. Turntablists manipulate records on a turntable by moving the record with their hand to cue the stylus to exact points on a record, and by touching or moving the platter or record to stop, slow down, speed up or, spin the record backwards, or moving the turntable platter back and forth, all while using a DJ mixer's crossfader control and the mixer's gain and equalization controls to adjust the sound and level of each turntable. Turntablists typically use two or more turntables and headphones to cue up desired start points on different records.

Amen break Widely sampled drum break

The Amen break is a drum break that has been widely sampled in popular music. It comes from the 1969 track "Amen, Brother" by the soul group the Winstons, released as the B-side of the 1969 single "Color Him Father". The drum break lasts about seven seconds and was performed by Gregory Coleman.

Electro (music) genre of electronic music

Electro is a genre of electronic music and early hip hop directly influenced by the use of the Roland TR-808 drum machines, and funk. Records in the genre typically feature drum machines and heavy electronic sounds, usually without vocals, although if vocals are present they are delivered in a deadpan manner, often through electronic distortion such as vocoding and talkboxing. This is the main distinction between electro and previously prominent genres such as disco, in which the electronic sound was only part of the instrumentation. It also palpably deviates from its predecessor boogie for being less vocal-oriented and more focused on electronic beats produced by drum machines.

Rare groove is soul or jazz music that is very hard to source or relatively obscure. Rare groove is primarily associated with funk, R&B and jazz funk, but is also connected to subgenres including jazz rock, reggae, Latin jazz, soul, rock music, northern soul, and disco. Vinyl records that fall into this category generally have high re-sale prices. Rare groove records have been sought by not only collectors and lovers of this type of music, but also by hip-hop artists and producers.

Hip hop Subculture including music, dance and graffiti

Hip hop or hip-hop is a culture and art movement that was created by African Americans, Latino Americans and Caribbean Americans in the Bronx, New York City. The origin of the name is often disputed. It is also argued as to whether hip hop started in the South or West Bronx. While the term hip hop is often used to refer exclusively to hip hop music, hip hop is characterized by four key elements: "rapping", a rhythmic vocal rhyming style (orality); DJing, which is making music with record players and DJ mixers ; b-boying/b-girling/breakdancing (movement/dance); and graffiti. Other elements are: hip hop culture and historical knowledge of the movement (intellectual/philosophical); beatboxing, a percussive vocal style; street entrepreneurship; hip hop language; and hip hop fashion and style, among others. The fifth element, although debated, is commonly considered either street knowledge, hip hop fashion, or beatboxing.

Hip hop production

Hip hop production is the creation of hip hop music in a recording studio. While the term encompasses all aspects of hip hop music creation, including recording the rapping of an MC, a turntablist or DJ providing a beat, playing samples and "scratching" using record players and the creation of a rhythmic backing track, using a drum machine or sequencer, it is most commonly used to refer to recording the instrumental, non-lyrical and non-vocal aspects of hip hop.

A DJ mix or DJ mixset is a sequence of musical tracks typically mixed together to appear as one continuous track. DJ mixes are usually performed using a DJ mixer and multiple sounds sources, such as turntables, CD players, digital audio players or computer sound cards, sometimes with the addition of samplers and effects units, although it is possible to create one using sound editing software.

DJ Kool Herc Jamaican DJ (born 1955)

Clive Campbell, better known by his stage name DJ Kool Herc, is a Jamaican-American DJ who is credited for originating hip hop music in the Bronx, New York City, in the 1970s through his "Back to School Jam", hosted on August 11, 1973, at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. After his younger sister, Cindy Campbell, became inspired to earn extra cash for back-to-school clothes, she decided to have her older brother, then 18 years old, play music for the neighborhood in their apartment building. Known as the "Founder of Hip-Hop" and "Father of Hip-Hop", Campbell began playing hard funk records of the sort typified by James Brown.

Paul Winley Records Inc. was a doo-wop record label founded in 1956 that in 1979 became one of the earliest hip hop labels. It was situated on 125th Street, Harlem, New York City. Winley released doo-wop by The Paragons and The Jesters, and hip hop records by Paul Winley's daughters, Tanya and Paulette, produced by Winley's wife, Ann. The label can lay claim to a number of firsts: one of the earliest rock and roll compilations, one of the earliest breaks compilations, an early solo female rap artist and an early instance of social commentary in rap. Winley was also the first label to record one of hip hop's most important figures, Afrika Bambaataa.

Hip hop music, also known as rap music, is a genre of popular music developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans and Latino Americans in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s. It consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti writing. Other elements include sampling beats or bass lines from records, and rhythmic beatboxing. While often used to refer solely to rapping, "hip hop" more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture. The term hip hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term rap music, though rapping is not a required component of hip hop music; the genre may also incorporate other elements of hip hop culture, including DJing, turntablism, scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.

Afrika Bambaataa American DJ, record producer and activist

Afrika Bambaataa is an American disc jockey, rapper, songwriter and producer from the South Bronx, New York. He is notable for releasing a series of genre-defining electro tracks in the 1980s that influenced the development of hip hop culture. Afrika Bambaataa is one of the originators of breakbeat DJing and is respectfully known as "The Godfather" and "Amen Ra of Hip Hop Kulture", as well as the father of electro-funk. Through his co-opting of the street gang the Black Spades into the music and culture-oriented Universal Zulu Nation, he has helped spread hip hop culture throughout the world. On May 6, 2016, Bambaataa left his position as head of The Zulu Nation due to multiple child sexual abuse allegations dating as far back as the 1970s.

"Bongo Rock" is a rock and roll instrumental written and recorded by Preston Epps. Released as a single in 1959, it charted #14 Pop in the United States. In 1973 the Incredible Bongo Band recorded a cover version of "Bongo Rock" under the title "Bongo Rock '73" which became a minor hit. The Incredible Bongo Band version of the tune gained significant popularity in early hip hop circles as a breakbeat. Pioneering DJ Kool Herc used it frequently in his sets. It was issued in the Ultimate Breaks and Beats compilation series and has been extensively sampled by pop and hip hop producers.

History of DJing

DJing is the act of playing existing recorded music for a live audience.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Brewster, Bill; Broughton, Frank (2003). How to DJ Right: The Art and Science of Playing Records. New York: Grove Press. p.  79. ISBN   0-8021-3995-7. it is a part when the music stops but then comes up again
  2. Toop, David (1991). Rap Attack 2: African Rap to Global Hip Hop. New York: Serpent's Tail. p. 60. ISBN   1852422432. Quoting Afrika Bambaataa.
  3. Toop (1991), p. 62. Quoting DJ Grandmaster Flash (1984, 1991).
  4. Brewster, Bill; Broughton, Frank (2014). Brewster, Bill, and Frank Broughton. Last night a DJ saved my life: The history of the disc jockey. Open Road+ Grove/Atlantic.
  5. van der Merwe, Peter (1989). Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth-century Popular Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p.  283. ISBN   0-19-316121-4.
  6. Davis, Janet (2002). Back-Up Banjo. Mel Bay Publications. p. 6. ISBN   0-7866-6525-4.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Toop (1991), pp. 113–115.
  8. Schloss, Joseph G. (2004). Making Beats: The Art of Sample-based Hip Hop. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. pp. 36–37. ISBN   0-8195-6696-9. Citing Leland and Stein (1987), p. 26.
  9. "Party Over Here: An Oral History of Kool Herc's Historic Back-to-School Jam". Mass Appeal. 2017-08-11. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  10. Auteur., Brewster, Bill, (2014). Last night a DJ saved my life the history of the disc jockey. Grove Press. ISBN   0-8021-4610-4. OCLC   893792069.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  11. Butler, Mark J. (2006). Unlocking the Groove: Rhythm, Meter, and Musical Design in Electronic Dance Music. Indiana University Press. p.  78. ISBN   978-0-253-34662-9. Even more common, especially in jungle/drum 'n' bass, is a break ... which fans and musicians commonly refer to as the 'Amen' break.
  12. "Deep Blue's 'The Helicopter Tune' – Discover the Sample Source". WhoSampled.com. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
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