Breakdown (music)

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In music, a breakdown is part of a song in which various instruments have solo parts (breaks). This may take the form where all instruments play the verse together, and then several or all instruments individually repeat the verse as solo parts.

Musical instrument History and classification

A musical instrument is an instrument created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates to the beginnings of human culture. Early musical instruments may have been used for ritual, such as a trumpet to signal success on the hunt, or a drum in a religious ceremony. Cultures eventually developed composition and performance of melodies for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in step with changing applications.

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.

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A breakdown is a popular musical style particularly in bluegrass, notable examples being Earl Scruggs' "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and Bill Monroe's "Bluegrass Breakdown".

Earl Scruggs American musician

Earl Eugene Scruggs was an American musician noted for popularizing a three-finger banjo picking style, now called "Scruggs style," which is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music. His three-finger style of playing was radically different from the traditional way the five-string banjo had previously been played. This new style of playing became popular and elevated the banjo from its previous role as a background rhythm instrument to featured solo status. He popularized the instrument across several genres of music.

"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" is a bluegrass instrumental − that is, a "breakdown" − written by Earl Scruggs and first recorded on December 11, 1949 by the bluegrass artists Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys. It is a standard in the bluegrass repertoire. The 1949 recording features Scruggs playing a five-string banjo.

Bill Monroe American bluegrass musician

William Smith Monroe was an American mandolinist, singer, and songwriter, who helped to create the style of music known as bluegrass. Because of this, he is commonly referred to as the "Father of Bluegrass".

Disco

Disco DJ, mixer and remixer Tom Moulton invented the "disco break" or breakdown section in the early 1970s. Moulton had been remixing a dance record (”Dreamworld” by Don Downing) which "immaculated" (went to a higher key) towards the end, and he wanted to cut parts together that were in different keys. To do this, he separated two sections with non-tonal information. [1] He edited in a section of drums, and the aesthetic effect was pleasing to dancers at the club. The placement was also useful for club DJ's, providing a rhythm-only section of the recording over which to begin mixing in the next record.

Thomas Jerome Moulton is an American record producer and originator of the breakdown section, the remix and the 12-inch single vinyl format.

Moulton says his innovation was an accident. [1] The placement followed the pattern of a traditional pop recording: it replaced the bridge typically found in such a record after the second chorus. An example is the breakdown in "My Lovin' (Never Gonna' Get It)" by En Vogue: a sampled male voice can be heard introducing this part of the record with the sentence "and now it's time for a breakdown". Longer tracks often have two, three or more breakdowns.

In music, especially western popular music, a bridge is a contrasting section that prepares for the return of the original material section. In a piece in which the original material or melody is referred to as the "A" section, the bridge may be the third eight-bar phrase in a thirty-two-bar form, or may be used more loosely in verse-chorus form, or, in a compound AABA form, used as a contrast to a full AABA section.

My Lovin (Youre Never Gonna Get It) 1992 single by En Vogue

"My Lovin' " is a song by American female group En Vogue, released in 1992. It is the lead single from their multi-platinum hit album, Funky Divas. VH1 ranked it #43 on its list for the "100 Greatest Songs of the '90s". The single was certified gold by the RIAA for sales/shipments of over 500,000 units.

En Vogue band

En Vogue is an American R&B/pop vocal group whose original lineup consisted of singers Terry Ellis, Dawn Robinson, Cindy Herron, and Maxine Jones. Formed in Oakland, California in 1989, En Vogue reached number two on the US Hot 100 with the single "Hold On", taken from their 1990 debut album Born To Sing. The group's 1992 follow-up album Funky Divas reached the top 10 in both the US and UK, and included their second US number two hit "My Lovin' " as well as the US top 10 hits "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" and "Free Your Mind".

Initially the transition to the breakdown was an abrupt absence of most of the arrangement in a disco record as described above. Hi-NRG records would typically use a pronounced percussive element, such as a drum fill, to cover the transition, and later genres reach the breakdown section by a gradual reduction of elements.

In all genres, the stripping away of other instruments and vocals ("breaking-down" the arrangement) helps create intense contrast, with breakdowns usually preceding or following heightened musical climaxes. In many dance records, the breakdown often consists of a stripping away of the pitched elements (most instruments) — and often the percussion — while adding an unpitched noise sound effect. This is often treated with a lot of reverb and rises in tone to create an exciting climax. This noise then cuts to a beat of silence, creating tension on the dance floor before the return to the musical part of the record.

Arrangement musical composition in altered form

In music, an arrangement is a musical reconceptualization of a previously composed work. It may differ from the original work by means of reharmonization, melodic paraphrasing, orchestration, or development of the formal structure. Arranging differs from orchestration in that the latter process is limited to the assignment of notes to instruments for performance by an orchestra, concert band, or other musical ensemble. Arranging "involves adding compositional techniques, such as new thematic material for introductions, transitions, or modulations, and endings.. .. Arranging is the art of giving an existing melody musical variety".

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.

Noise unwanted sound,difference from sound - when the brain receives and perceives a sound;random fluctuations of data that hinders perception of an expected signal;unwanted residual electronic noise signal that gives rise to acoustic noise heard as a hiss

Noise is unwanted sound judged to be unpleasant, loud or disruptive to hearing. From a physics standpoint, noise is indistinguishable from sound, as both are vibrations through a medium, such as air or water. The difference arises when the brain receives and perceives a sound.

Heavy metal and punk rock

Breakdowns are sometimes found in metal and punk songs, as they can be used to eschew traditional verse-chorus-verse songwriting. When played live, breakdowns are usually responded to by the audience with high-intensity moshing (slam dancing).

Moshing style of dance

Moshing or slamdancing is a style of dance in which participants push or slam into each other, typically performed in "aggressive" live music. Moshing usually happens in the center of the crowd, generally closer to the stage, in an area called the "pit". It is intended to be energetic and full of body contact.

The drums are usually simple, with a four quarter-note ride pattern with the snare on the third beat. Most commonly, the drummer plays quarter notes on the crash cymbal or china cymbal. In some breakdowns where a very slow tempo is used, the drummer will play half notes, to give the music a very heavy, slow feel. The guitarist usually follows the rhythm, or "chugs", (chugs being palm muted strokes on the lowest three to four string of the guitar) on the kick drum. In most cases the drummer will use the kick drum to complement the "chugs" of the guitars.

The guitars play a set of rhythmically oriented riffs, usually on lightly palm muted strings to achieve a very high attack noise that decays slowly making the overall sound more thick and "heavy". Sometimes, these are contrasted with either dissonant chords, such as minor 2nd intervals, tritones (flatted 5ths), or pinch harmonics.

In punk rock, breakdowns tend to be more upbeat, using the floor toms and snares to create a faster, 'rolling' rhythm. This provides audience members with an opportunity to skank, mosh, or form a circle pit.

Many of the bands that play in the genres of deathcore and metalcore make heavy use of breakdowns. Modern breakdowns usually consist of slow-paced strumming on the guitar, or fast syncopated triplet-feel patterns, both of which are typically palm muted and played on the lowest three strings of a guitar and a bass drop. These strings are usually tuned down from somewhere between dropped D tuning all the way down to dropped F tuning. Breakdowns in metalcore and deathcore are synonymous with hardcore dancing in live shows.

Electronicore bands such as Horse the Band, Asking Alexandria, Attack Attack!, Capture the Crown, Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Enter Shikari incorporate synthesizers that add a dance beat style to the breakdown.

Bluegrass

In bluegrass music, a break is a short instrumental solo played between sections of a song and is conventionally a variation on the song's melody. A breakdown is an instrumental form that features a series of breaks, each played by a different instrument. Examples of the form are "Bluegrass Breakdown" by Bill Monroe as well as "Earl's Breakdown" and "Foggy Mountain Breakdown", both of which were written by Earl Scruggs.

Related Research Articles

Banjo musical instrument

The banjo is a four-, five-, or six-stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity as a resonator, called the head, which is typically circular. The membrane is typically made of plastic, although animal skin is still occasionally used. Early forms of the instrument were fashioned by Africans in the United States, adapted from African instruments of similar design. The banjo is frequently associated with folk, Irish traditional, and country music. Banjo can also be used in some Rock Songs. Countless Rock bands, such as The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and The Allman Brothers, have used the five-string banjo in some of their songs. Historically, the banjo occupied a central place in African-American traditional music and the folk culture of rural whites before entering the mainstream via the minstrel shows of the 19th century. The banjo, along with the fiddle, is a mainstay of American old-time music. It is also very frequently used in traditional ("trad") jazz.

Pizzicato Playing technique for string instruments

Pizzicato is a playing technique that involves plucking the strings of a string instrument. The exact technique varies somewhat depending on the type of instrument:

Scruggs style

Scruggs style is the most common style of playing the banjo in bluegrass music. It is a fingerpicking method, also known as three-finger style. It is named after Earl Scruggs, whose innovative approach and technical mastery of the instrument have influenced generations of bluegrass banjoists ever since he was first recorded in 1946. It contrasts with earlier styles such as minstrel, classic or parlor style, clawhammer/frailing/two-finger style, jazz styles played with a plectrum, and more modern styles such as Keith/melodic/chromatic/arpa style, and single-string/Reno style. The influence of Scruggs is so pervasive that even bluegrass players such as Bill Keith and Don Reno, who are credited with developing these latter styles, typically work out of the Scruggs style much of the time.

The palm mute is a playing technique for guitar and bass guitar, executed by placing the side of the picking hand below the little finger across the strings to be plucked, very close to the bridge, and then plucking the strings while the damping is in effect. This produces a muted sound. The name is a slight misnomer, as the muting is performed by the side of the hand, not the palm.

A number of heavy metal genres have developed since the emergence of heavy metal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. At times heavy metal genres may overlap or are difficult to distinguish, but they can be identified by a number of traits. They may differ in terms of: instrumentation, tempo, song structure, vocal style, lyrics, guitar playing style, drumming style, and so on.

Metalcore is a fusion genre combining elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk. The word is a portmanteau of the two genres. Among other styles blending metal and hardcore, such as crust punk and grindcore, metalcore is noted for its use of breakdowns, which are slow, intense passages conducive to moshing. Pioneering metalcore bands—such as Integrity, Earth Crisis, Converge and All Out War all of which had formed by 1991—are described as leaning more toward hardcore, with their style sometimes being called metallic hardcore, whereas later bands—such as Caliban, Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, Trivium, As I Lay Dying, Bullet for My Valentine, and Parkway Drive—are described as leaning more towards metal. Pantera and Sepultura have been particularly influential to the development of metalcore in the 2000s, which saw many bands in the genre achieve commercial success.

A rhythm section is a group of musicians within a music ensemble or band who provide the underlying rhythm, harmony and pulse of the accompaniment, providing a rhythmic and harmonic reference and "beat" for the rest of the band.

Deathcore is an extreme metal fusion genre that combines musical elements of death metal and metalcore and sometimes hardcore punk. It makes use of death metal riffs and blast beats, as well as metalcore breakdowns. Deathcore gained most prominence within the southwestern United States, especially Arizona and inland southern California, which are home to many notable bands and various festivals.

The Foggy Mountain Boys were an American bluegrass band. The band was founded by guitarist Lester Flatt and banjo player Earl Scruggs and is viewed by music historians as one of the premier bluegrass groups in the history of the genre. The band was originally formed in 1948 by Flatt, who had been a member of Bill Monroe's bluegrass band. Flatt brought Scruggs with him shortly after leaving Monroe.

In popular music, a fill is a short musical passage, riff, or rhythmic sound which helps to sustain the listener's attention during a break between the phrases of a melody. "The terms riff and fill are sometimes used interchangeably by musicians, but [while] the term riff usually refers to an exact musical phrase repeated throughout a song", a fill is an improvised phrase played during a section where nothing else is happening in the music. While riffs are repeated, fills tend to be varied over the course of a song. For example, a drummer may fill in the end of one phrase with a sixteenth note hi-hat pattern, and then fill in the end of the next phrase with a snare drum figure.

Josh Graves, born Burkett Howard Graves, was an American bluegrass musician. Also known by the nicknames "Buck," and "Uncle Josh," he is credited with introducing the resonator guitar into bluegrass music shortly after joining Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys in 1955. He was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1977.

Progressive metalcore is a fusion of progressive metal and metalcore characterized by highly technical lead guitar, "atmospheric" elements, and complex instrumentation. Some notable practitioners take influence from djent.

Ghost note

In music, a ghost note is a musical note with a rhythmic value, but no discernible pitch when played. In musical notation, this is represented by an "X" for a note head instead of an oval, or parentheses around the note head. It should not be confused with the X-shaped notation that raises a note to a double sharp.

Oceano is an American deathcore band from Cook County, Illinois. Formed in 2006, the band signed to Earache Records and released their debut album, Depths on April 7, 2009. Their second album, Contagion was released on November 9, 2010. Their fourth album Ascendants was released March 23, 2015. Their most recent album Revelation was released on May 19, 2017. It was their first release with their new label, Sumerian Records.

The Browning is an American electronicore band from Kansas City, Missouri, United States. The Browning is best known for their unique blend of deathcore, metalcore and EDM.

Bluegrass mandolin

Bluegrass mandolin is a style of mandolin playing most commonly heard in bluegrass bands.

In music, a chop chord is a "clipped backbeat". In 4
4
: 1 2 3 4. It is a muted chord that marks the off-beats or upbeats. As a rhythm guitar and mandolin technique, it is accomplished through chucking, in which the chord is muted by lifting the fretting fingers immediately after strumming, producing a percussive effect.

The chop is analogous to a snare drum beat and keeps the rhythm together and moving. It's one of the innovations bluegrass inventor Bill Monroe pioneered, and it gave the music a harder groove and separated it from old-time and mountain music.

References

  1. 1 2 Discoguy. "Tom Moulton Tribute", Disco-Disco.