Breakbeat

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Breakbeat is a broad style of electronic or dance-oriented music which utilizes breaks, often sampled from earlier recordings in funk, jazz and R&B, for the main rhythm. Breakbeats have been used in styles such as hip hop, jungle, drum and bass, big beat, hardcore, and UK garage styles (including 2-step, breakstep and dubstep).

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.

Funk is a music genre that originated in African-American communities in the mid-1960s when African-American musicians created a rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of soul music, jazz, and rhythm and blues (R&B). Funk de-emphasizes melody and chord progressions and focuses on a strong rhythmic groove of a bass line played by an electric bassist and a drum part played by a drummer, often at slower tempos than other popular music. Like much of African-inspired music, funk typically consists of a complex groove with rhythm instruments playing interlocking grooves that created a "hypnotic" and "danceable feel". Funk uses the same richly colored extended chords found in bebop jazz, such as minor chords with added sevenths and elevenths, or dominant seventh chords with altered ninths and thirteenths.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Contents

Etymology

The most likely origin of the word "breakbeat" is the fact that the drum loops that were sampled occurred during a "break" in the music, as in the Amen break, which is a drum solo from "Amen, Brother" by The Winstons. However, it is a common thought that the name derives from the beat being "broken" and unpredictable compared to other percussive styles, something which is also reflected in the name of the related genre broken beat. Whether this was part of the original meaning of the word or is purely a folk etymology remains unclear, but it is safe to say that the term has evolved to encompass both sentiments.

Amen break

The Amen break is a drum break in the 1969 track "Amen, Brother" by the soul group the Winstons. The track was released as the B-side of the Winstons' 1969 single "Color Him Father". The drum break lasts about seven seconds and was performed by Gregory Coleman.

"Color Him Father" is a song released by funk and soul group The Winstons.

The Winstons American 1960s funk and soul music group, based in Washington, D.C.

The Winstons were an American 1960s funk and soul music group, based in Washington, D.C., United States. They are known for their 1969 recording of an EP featuring a song entitled "Color Him Father" on the A-side, and "Amen, Brother" on the B-side. Half-way into "Amen, Brother", there is a drum solo which would cause the EP to become the most widely sampled record in the history of electronic music. Sampled audio clips of the drum solo became known as the Amen Break, which has been used in thousands of tracks in a large number of musical genres, including drum and bass, hip hop, jungle, big beat, industrial and electronica.

History

Beginning in 1973 and continuing through the late 1970s and early 1980s, hip hop turntablists, such as DJ Kool Herc began using several funk breaks in a row, using irregular drum patterns from songs such as James Brown's "Funky Drummer" and The Winstons' "Amen Brother", to form the rhythmic base for hip hop songs. DJ Kool Herc's breakbeat style involved playing the same record on two turntables and playing the break repeatedly, alternating between the two records. He would mark the points on the record where the break began and ended with a crayon, so that he could easily replay the break by spinning the record and not touching the tone arm. [1] This style was copied and improved upon by early hip hop DJs Afrika Bambaataa and Grand Wizard Theodore. [2] [ dubious ] This style was extremely popular in clubs and dancehalls because the extended breakbeat provided breakers with more opportunities to showcase their skills. In the 1970s, hip-hop was all about the break. Then, in the 1980s, the evolution of technology began to make sampling breaks easier and more affordable for DJs and producers, which helped nurture the commercialization of hip-hop. Through crude techniques such as pausing tapes and then recording the break, by the 1980s, technology allowed anybody with a tape recorder to find the breakbeat. [3]

Hip hop music music genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping

Hip hop music, also called hip-hop or rap music, is a music genre 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.

Turntablism the art of manipulating sounds and creating music using phonograph turntables and a DJ mixer

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.

DJ Kool Herc Jamaican DJ

Clive Campbell, better known by his stage name DJ Kool Herc, is a Jamaican–American DJ who is credited with helping originate 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 16 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 as an alternative both to the violent gang culture of the Bronx and to the nascent popularity of disco in the 1970s.

In the early 1990s, acid house artists and producers started using breakbeat samples in their music to create breakbeat hardcore. [4] The hardcore scene then diverged into subgenres like jungle and drum and bass, which generally had a darker sound and focused more on complex sampled drum patterns. An example of this is Goldie's album Timeless .

Acid house is a subgenre of house music developed around the mid-1980s by DJs from Chicago. The style was defined primarily by the deep basslines and "squelching" sounds of the Roland TB-303 electronic synthesizer-sequencer. Acid house spread to the United Kingdom and continental Europe, where it was played by DJs in the acid house and later rave scenes. By the late 1980s, acid house had moved into the British mainstream, where it had some influence on pop and dance styles.

Sampling (music) reproduction of short extracts from a musical work

In music, sampling is the reuse of a portion of a sound recording in another recording. Samples may comprise rhythm, melody, speech, or other sounds. They are usually integrated using hardware (samplers) or software such as digital audio workstations.

Breakbeat hardcore is a genre of hardcore music of the late 1980s and early 1990s that combines four-on-the-floor rhythms with breakbeats, and is associated with the UK rave scene. In addition to the including of breakbeats, the genre also features shuffled drum machine patterns, upbeat piano rolls and old-school hoover sounds.

Josh Lawford of Ravescene prophesied that breakbeat was "the death-knell of rave" [5] because the ever-changing drumbeat patterns of breakbeat music didn't allow for the same zoned out, trance-like state that the standard, steady 4/4 beats of house enabled. In 1994, the influential techno act Autechre released the Anti EP in response to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 using advanced algorithmic programming to generate non-repetitive breakbeats for the full duration of the tracks to subvert the legal definitions within that legislation [ further explanation needed ].

House music is a genre of electronic dance music created by club DJs and music producers in Chicago in the early 1980s. Early house music was generally characterized by repetitive 4/4 beats, rhythms provided by drum machines, off-beat hi-hat cymbals, and synthesized basslines. While house displayed several characteristics similar to disco music, which preceded and influenced it, as both were DJ and record producer-created dance music, house was more electronic and minimalistic. The mechanical, repetitive rhythm of house was one of its main components. Many house compositions were instrumental, with no vocals; some had singing throughout the song with lyrics; and some had singing but no actual words.

Techno is a form of electronic dance music that emerged in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States during the mid-to-late 1980s. The first recorded use of the word techno in reference to a specific genre of music was in 1988. Many styles of techno now exist, but Detroit techno is seen as the foundation upon which a number of sub-genres have been built.

Autechre English electronic music duo

Autechre are an English electronic music duo consisting of Rob Brown and Sean Booth, both from Rochdale, Greater Manchester. Formed in 1987, they are one of the best known acts signed to UK electronic label Warp Records, through which all of Autechre's full-length albums have been released beginning with their 1993 debut Incunabula. They gained initial recognition when they were featured on Warp's 1992 compilation Artificial Intelligence.

Evolution

In the late-1980s, breakbeat became an essential feature of many genres of breaks music which became popular within the global dance music scene, including big beat, nu skool breaks, acid breaks, electro-funk, and Miami bass. Incorporating many components of those genres, the Florida breaks subgenre followed during the early-to-mid 1990s and had a unique sound that was soon internationally popular among producers, DJs, and club-goers.

Big beat is an electronic music genre that usually uses heavy breakbeats and synthesizer-generated loops and patterns – common to acid house/techno. The term has been used by the British music industry to describe music by artists such as The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, The Crystal Method, Propellerheads, Cut La Roc, Basement Jaxx and Groove Armada.

Nu skool breaks is a subgenre of breakbeat originating during the period between 1998 and 2002. The style is usually characterized by more abstract, more technical sounds, sometimes incorporated from other genres of electronic dance music, including UK garage, electro, and drum and bass. Typically, tracks ranged between 125 and 140 beats per minute (bpm), often featuring a dominant bass line. In contrast with big beat, another subgenre of breakbeat, the sound set consisted less of hip hop samples and acid-type sounds, instead emphasizing dance-friendliness and "new" sound produced by modern production techniques using synthesizers, effect processors, and computers.

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.

DJs from a variety of genres work breaks tracks into their sets. This may occur because the tempo of breaks tracks (ranging from 110 to 150 beats per minute) means they can be readily mixed with these genres. Breakbeats are used in many hip hop, jungle/drum & bass and hardcore songs, and can also be heard in other music, from popular music to background music in car and clothing commercials on radio or TV. [6]

Sampled breakbeats

With the advent of digital sampling and music editing on the computer, breakbeats have become much easier to create and use. Now, instead of cutting and splicing tape sections or constantly backspinning two records at the same time, a computer program can be used to cut, paste, and loop breakbeats endlessly. Digital effects such as filters, reverb, reversing, time stretching and pitch shifting can be added to the beat, and even to individual sounds by themselves. Individual instruments from within a breakbeat can be sampled and combined with others, thereby creating wholly new breakbeat patterns.

The "Amen break"

The Amen break, a drum break from The Winstons' song "Amen, Brother" is widely regarded as one of the most widely used and sampled breaks among music using breakbeats. [7] This break was first used on "King of the Beats" by Mantronix, and has since been used in thousands of songs. [8] Other popular breaks are from James Brown's Funky Drummer (1970) and Give it Up or Turnit a Loose, The Incredible Bongo Band's 1973 cover of The Shadows' "Apache", and Lyn Collins' 1972 song "Think (About It)". [2] The Winstons have not received royalties for third-party use of samples of the break recorded on their original music release. [8]

With the rise in popularity of breakbeat music and the advent of digital audio samplers, companies started selling "breakbeat packages" for the express purpose of helping artists create breakbeats. A breakbeat kit CD would contain many breakbeat samples from different songs and artists, often without the artist's permission or even knowledge.[ dubious ]

Subgenres

Big beat

Big beat is a term employed since the mid-1990s by the British music press to describe much of the music by artists such as The Prodigy, Cut La Roc, Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method and Propellerheads typically driven by heavy breakbeats and synthesizer-generated loops and patterns in common with established forms of electronic dance music such as techno and acid house.

Progressive breaks

Also sometimes known as atmospheric breaks, progressive breaks (or "prog breaks") is a subgenre of breaks that is essentially a fusion of breakbeat and progressive house. Much like progressive house, this subgenre is characterized by its "trancey" sound. Its defining traits include extended synthesizer pads and washes, melodic synth leads, heavy reverberation, and electronic breakbeats. However, unlike progressive house, very few progressive breaks tracks have vocals, with most tracks being entirely instrumental or using only electronically-altered snippets of vocal samples for sonic effect. Typical progressive breaks tracks will often have a long build-up section that leads to a breakdown and a climax, often having numerous sonic elements being added or subtracted from the track at various intervals in order to increase its intensity. Progressive breaks artists include Hybrid, BT, Way Out West, Digital Witchcraft, Momu, Wrecked Angle, Burufunk, Under This and Fretwell.

Acid breaks

In electronic music, "acid breaks" is a fusion between breakbeat, acid house and other forms of dance music.[ vague ] Its drum line usually mimics most breakbeat music, lacking the distinctive kick drum of other forms of dance music. One of the earliest synthesizers to be employed in acid music was the Roland TB-303, which makes use of a resonant low-pass filter to emphasize the harmonics of the sound.

Notable breakbeat artists

See also

Related Research Articles

Drum and bass, is a genre and branch of electronic music characterised by fast breakbeats with heavy bass and sub-bass lines, sampled sources, and synthesizers.

Trip hop is a musical genre that originated in the early 1990s in the United Kingdom, especially Bristol. It has been described as "a fusion of hip hop and electronica until neither genre is recognizable", and may incorporate a variety of styles, including funk, dub, soul, psychedelia, R&B, and house, as well as other forms of electronic music. Trip hop can be highly experimental.

Jungle is a genre of electronic music derived from breakbeat hardcore that developed in England in the early 1990s as part of UK rave scenes. The style is characterized by fast tempos, breakbeats, dub reggae basslines, heavily syncopated percussive loops, samples, and synthesized effects. Long pitch-shifted snare rolls are common in old-school jungle. Jungle was a predecessor to drum and bass, a well-known genre of electronic music.

Happy hardcore, also known as happy rave or happycore, is a genre of hard dance typified by a very fast tempo, often coupled with solo vocals or sentimental lyrics. Its characteristically 4/4 beat "happy" sound distinguishes it from most other forms of hardcore, which tend to be "darker". It is typically in a major key. In its original incarnation, it was often characterized by piano riffs, synthetic stabs and spacey effects. This genre of music is closely related to the typically Dutch genre of gabber and the typically Spanish genre of makina. Happy hardcore evolved from breakbeat hardcore around 1991–1993, as the original house music-based rave became faster and began to include breakbeats, evolving into oldschool jungle which evolved into drum and bass. Some of the most famous artists of this genre include Brisk and Ham, Scott Brown, Force and Styles, Sy and Unknown, Hixxy, DJ Paul Elstak, Anabolic Frolic, Dune, Scooter, Critical Mass, Stu Allan, Vibes, Dougal, Slipmatt, DJ Sharkey, DJ Seduction.

Hardcore is a subgenre of electronic dance music that originated in the Netherlands from the emergent raves/gabber in the 1990s. Its subgenres are usually distinguished from other electronic dance music genres by faster tempos, the intensity of the kicks and the synthesized bass, the rhythm and the atmosphere of the themes, the usage of saturation and experimentation close to that of industrial dance music.

Florida Breaks, which may also be referred to as Orlando breaks, Tampa Breaks, or The Orlando Sound is a genre of breakbeat dance music that originated in the central region of the State of Florida, United States. Florida Breaks originates from a mixture of hip-hop, Miami bass and electro that often includes recognizable sampling of early jazz or funk beats from rare groove or popular film. Florida's breakbeat style feature vocal elements and retains the hip-hop rhythms on which is based. The Florida breakbeat style however is faster, more syncopated, and has a heavier and unrelenting bassline. The beat frequently slows and breaks down complex beat patterns and then rebuilds to creative an uplifting, happy, or positive mood in the listener.

Kurtis el Khaleel, known by the stage name Kurtis Mantronik, is Jamaican-born hip hop and electronic-music artist, DJ, remixer, and producer. Mantronik was the former leader, DJ, and keyboardist of the influential 1980s hip hop and electro-funk group Mantronix. Currently, Mantronik lives in South Africa, where he has produced and remixed house and techno music tracks by artists such as India, Junior Senior, Kylie Minogue, Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, Michael Gray, Victoria Beckham, Liberty X, and Mim. Mantronik was influential on the development of hip hop music; notably, he laid the foundations for Southern hip hop genres such as Miami bass and trap music, and helped popularize the Amen break.

Darkcore or darkside is a music subgenre of breakbeat hardcore and jungle that became popular in the United Kingdom. It is recognized as being one of the direct precursors of the genre now known as drum and bass. Popular from late 1992 and through 1993, Darkcore was a counter movement to Happy Hardcore, which also evolved from Breakbeat Hardcore.

A drop or beat drop in popular music, especially electronic dance music styles, is a point in a music track where a sudden change of rhythm or bass line occurs, which typically is preceded by a build section and break.

Baltimore club, also called Bmore club, Bmore house or simply Bmore, is a fusion of breakbeat and house genres. A blend of hip hop and chopped, staccato house music, it was created in Baltimore, Maryland, United States in the late 1980s by 2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell, Frank Ski, Miss Tony, Scottie B. and DJ Spen.

Dance music music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing

Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement. In terms of performance, the major categories are live dance music and recorded dance music. While there exist attestations of the combination of dance and music in ancient times, the earliest Western dance music that we can still reproduce with a degree of certainty are the surviving medieval dances. In the Baroque period, the major dance styles were noble court dances. In the classical music era, the minuet was frequently used as a third movement, although in this context it would not accompany any dancing. The waltz also arose later in the classical era. Both remained part of the romantic music period, which also saw the rise of various other nationalistic dance forms like the barcarolle, mazurka, ecossaise, ballade and polonaise.

Drum and bass is a type of breakbeat hardcore that originated in the UK that emerged from the countries jungle scene in the early 90s. The genre would go on to become one of the most popular genres of electronic dance music, becoming international and spawning multiple different derivatives and subgenres.

References

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  6. "Nate Harrison". nkhstudio.com.
  7. "10 Most Sampled Breakbeats". blog.whosampled.com.
  8. 1 2 "Musical history: Seven seconds of fire". The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited. 2011-12-17. Retrieved 2011-12-28.