Drum and bass incorporates a number of scenes and styles, from the highly electronic, industrial sounds of techstep through to the use of conventional, acoustic instrumentation that characterise the more jazz-influenced end of the spectrum. The sounds of drum and bass are extremely varied due to the range of influences behind the music.
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 emerged over the ensuing years of the genre's development
Drum and bass (/ˈdrʌm ənd ˈbeɪs/) (also written as "drum 'n' bass" or "drum & bass"; commonly abbreviated as "D&B", "DnB" or "D'n'B") is a genre and branch of electronic music which emerged from rave and jungle scenes in England during the early 1990s. The style is often characterised by fast breakbeats (typically 160–180 beats per minute) with heavy bass and sub-bass lines, sampled sources, and synthesizers.
The popularity of drum and bass at its commercial peak ran parallel to several other homegrown dance styles in the UK including big beat and hard house. Drum and bass incorporates a number of scenes and styles. A major influence on jungleand drum and bass was the original Jamaican dub and reggae sound. Another feature of the style is the complex syncopation of the drum tracks' breakbeat.
Drum and bass subgenres include breakcore, ragga jungle, hardstep, darkstep, techstep, neurofunk, ambient drum and bass, liquid funk, deep, drumfunk, funkstep, sambass, dnbnoise, and drill 'n' bass. From its roots in the UK, the style has established itself around the world. Drum and bass has influenced many other genres like hip hop, big beat, dubstep, house, trip hop, ambient music, techno, rock and pop. Drum and bass is dominated by a relatively small group of record labels. The major international music labels had shown very little interest in the drum and bass scene, until BMG Rights Managementacquired RAM in February 2016. . Drum and bass remains most popular in the UK although it has developed scenes all around the world, in countries such as the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, Canada, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Australia.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a growing nightclub and overnight outdoor event culture gave birth to a new electronic music style in the rave scene, a form of electronic dance music (EDM) which combined sampled syncopated beats or breakbeats, and other samples from a wide range of different musical genres and, occasionally, samples of music, dialogue and effects from films and television programmes. A faster subgenre was known as "hardcore" but from as early as 1991, some musical tracks made up of these high-tempo break beats, with heavy basslines and samples of older Jamaican music, were referred to as "jungle techno", a genre influenced by Jack Smooth and Basement Records, and later just "jungle", which became recognised as a separate musical genre popular at raves and on pirate radio in Britain. It is important to note when discussing the history of drum and bass that prior to jungle, the music was getting faster and more experimental. Professional DJ and producer C.K. states, "There was a progression as far as the speed of music is concerned. Anyone buying vinyl every week from 1989 to 1992 noticed this."
By 1994, jungle had begun to gain mainstream popularity and fans of the music (often referred to as junglists) became a more recognisable part of youth subculture. The genre further developed, incorporating and fusing elements from a wide range of existing musical genres, including the raggamuffin sound, dancehall, MC chants, dub basslines, and increasingly complex, heavily edited breakbeat percussion. Despite the affiliation with the ecstasy-fuelled rave scene, jungle also inherited some associations with violence and criminal activity, both from the gang culture that had affected the UK's hip-hop scene and as a consequence of jungle's often aggressive or menacing sound and themes of violence (usually reflected in the choice of samples). However, this developed in tandem with the often positive reputation of the music as part of the wider rave scene and dancehall-based Jamaican music culture prevalent in London. By 1995, whether as a reaction to, or independently of this cultural schism, some jungle producers began to move away from the ragga-influenced style and create what would become collectively labelled, for convenience, as drum and bass.
As the genre became generally more polished and sophisticated technically, it began to expand its reach from pirate radio to commercial stations and gain widespread acceptance (circa 1995–1997). It also began to split into recognisable subgenres such as jump-up and Hardstep. As a lighter and often jazz-influenced style of drum and bass gained mainstream appeal, additional subgenres emerged including techstep (circa 1996–1997) which drew greater influence from techno music and the soundscapes of science fiction and anime films.
The popularity of drum and bass at its commercial peak ran parallel to several other homegrown dance styles in the UK including big beat and hard house. But towards the turn of the millennium its popularity was deemed to have dwindled as the UK garage style known as speed garage yielded several hit singles. Speed garage shared high tempos and heavy basslines with drum and bass, but otherwise followed the established conventions of "house music", with this and its freshness giving it an advantage commercially. London DJ/producer C.K. says, "It is often forgotten by my students that a type of music called "garage house" existed in the late 1980s alongside hip house, acid house and other forms of house music." He continues, "This new garage of the mid 90s was not a form of house or a progression of garage house. The beats and tempo that define house are entirely different. This did cause further confusion in the presence of new house music of the mid-1990s being played alongside what was now being called garage." Despite this, the emergence of further subgenres and related styles such as liquid funk brought a wave of new artists incorporating new ideas and techniques, supporting continual evolution of the genre. To this day drum and bass makes frequent appearances in mainstream media and popular culture including in television, as well as being a major reference point for subsequent genres such as grime and dubstep and successful artists including Chase & Status, Netsky, and Australia's Pendulum.
As computer technology became more accessible and music software advanced, interacting with music production technology was possible using means that bore little relationship to traditional musical performance practices: for instance, laptop performance (laptronica) and live coding. By the mid 2000s a number of software-based virtual studio environments had emerged, with products such as Propellerhead's Reason and Ableton Live finding popular appeal. These software-based music production tools offer viable and cost-effective alternatives to typical hardware-based production studios, and thanks to advances in microprocessortechnology, can create high quality music using little more than a single laptop computer. Such advances democratized music creation, and lead to a massive increase in the amount of home-produced music available to the general public via the internet. Artists can now also individuate their sound by creating personalized software synthesizers, effects modules, and various composition environments. Devices that once existed exclusively in the hardware domain can easily have virtual counterparts. Some of the more popular software tools for achieving such ends are commercial releases such as Max/Msp and Reaktor and freeware packages such as Pure Data, SuperCollider, and ChucK. In some sense, as a result of technological innovation, the DIY mentality that was once a core part of dance music culture is seeing a resurgence.
in general, techno is very [[disc jockey|DJ]]-friendly, being mainly [[instrumental]] (commercial varieties being an exception) and is produced with the intention of its being heard in the context of a continuous [[DJ mix|DJ set]], wherein the DJ progresses from one record to the next via a synchronized [[segue]] or "mix."<ref>Butler 2006:12–13,94</ref> Much of the [[instrumentation (music)|instrumentation]] in techno emphasizes the role of [[rhythm]] over other musical parameters, but the design of [[synthesizer|synthetic]] [[timbre]]s, and the creative use of [[music technology|music production technology]] in general, are important aspects of the overall [[aesthetics of music|aesthetic]] practice.
Unlike other forms of electronic dance music that tend to be produced with [[Keyboard instrument|synthesizer keyboards]], techno does not always strictly adhere to the [[harmony|harmonic practice]] of [[Classical music|Western music]] and such strictures are often ignored in favor of timbral manipulation alone.<ref>Fikentscher, K. (1991), ''The Decline of Functional Harmony in Contemporary Dance Music'', Paper presented at the 6th International Conference On Popular Music Studies, Berlin, Germany, July 15–20, 1991.</ref> Thus techno inherits from the modernist tradition of the so-called [[Klangfarbenmelodie]], or timbral serialism. The use of [[motif (music)|motivic development]] (though relatively limited) and the employment of conventional musical frameworks is more widely found in commercial techno styles, for example [[Eurodance|euro-trance]], where the template is often an [[Thirty-two-bar form|AABA song structure]].<ref>Pope, R. (2011), Hooked on an Affect: Detroit Techno and Dystopian Digital Culture, ''Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture'' 2 (1): p. 38</ref>
The main drum part is almost universally in [[common time]] (4/4); meaning 4 [[quarter note]] [[pulse (music)|pulses]] per bar.<ref>Butler 2006:8</ref> In its simplest form, [[time]] is marked with kicks ([[bass drum]] beats) on each quarter-note pulse, a [[snare drum|snare]] or clap on the second and fourth pulse of the bar, with an open [[Hi-hat (instrument)|hi-hat]] sound every second eighth note. This is essentially a [[disco]] (or even [[polka]]) drum pattern and is common throughout [[house music|house]] and [[trance music]] as well. The [[tempo]] tends to vary between approximately 120 [[beats per minute|bpm]] (quarter note equals 120 pulses per minute) and 150 bpm, depending on the style of techno.
Some of the [[drum machine|drum programming]] employed in the original Detroit-based techno made use of [[syncopation]] and [[polyrhythm]], yet in many cases the basic disco-type pattern was used as a foundation, with polyrhythmic elaborations added using other [[drum machine]] voices. This syncopated-feel ([[funk]]iness) distinguishes the Detroit strain of techno from other variants. It is a feature that many DJs and producers still use to differentiate their music from commercial forms of techno, the majority of which tend to be devoid of syncopation. Derrick May has summed up the sound as 'Hi-tech Tribalism': something "very spiritual, very bass oriented, and very drum oriented, very percussive. The original techno music was very hi-tech with a very percussive feel... it was extremely, extremely Tribal. It feels like you're in some sort of hi-tech village."<ref name=LUNAR/>
There are many ways to create techno, but the majority will depend upon the use of loop-based step sequencing as a compositional method. Techno musicians, or producers, rather than employing traditional compositional techniques, may work in an improvisatory fashion, often treating the electronic music studio as one large instrument. The collection of devices found in a typical studio will include units that are capable of producing many different sounds and effects. Studio production equipment is generally synchronized using a hardware- or computer-based MIDI sequencer, enabling the producer to combine in one arrangement the sequenced output of many devices. A typical approach to using this type of technology compositionally is to overdub successive layers of material while continuously looping a single measure or sequence of measures. This process will usually continue until a suitable multi-track arrangement has been produced.
Once a single loop-based arrangement has been generated, a producer may then focus on developing how the summing of the overdubbed parts will unfold in time, and what the final structure of the piece will be. Some producers achieve this by adding or removing layers of material at appropriate points in the mix. Quite often, this is achieved by physically manipulating a mixer, sequencer, effects, dynamic processing, equalization, and filtering while recording to a multi-track device. Other producers achieve similar results by using the automation features of computer-based digital audio workstations. Techno can consist of little more than cleverly programmed rhythmic sequences and looped motifs combined with signal processing of one variety or another, frequency filtering being a commonly used process. A more idiosyncratic approach to production is evident in the music of artists such as Twerk and Autechre, where aspects of algorithmic composition are employed in the generation of material.
Quick history of techno from wikipedia.
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 subgenres have been built.
In Detroit, techno resulted from the melding of African American music including Chicago house, funk, electro, and electric jazz with electronic music by artists such as Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder, and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Added to this is the influence of futuristic and fictional themes relevant to life in American late capitalist society, with Alvin Toffler's book The Third Wave being a notable point of reference. Pioneering producer Juan Atkins cites Toffler's phrase "techno rebels" as inspiring him to use the word techno to describe the musical style he helped to create. This unique blend of influences aligns techno with the aesthetic referred to as afrofuturism. To producers such as Derrick May, the transference of spirit from the body to the machine is often a central preoccupation; essentially an expression of technological spirituality. In this manner: "techno dance music defeats what Adorno saw as the alienating effect of mechanisation on the modern consciousness".
Stylistically, techno is generally repetitive instrumental music, oftentimes produced for use in a continuous DJ set. The central rhythmic component is most often in common time (4/4), where time is marked with a bass drum on each quarter note pulse, a backbeat played by snare or clap on the second and fourth pulses of the bar, and an open hi-hat sounding every second eighth note. The tempo tends to vary between approximately 120 to 150 beats per minute (bpm), depending on the style of techno. The creative use of music production technology, such as drum machines, synthesizers, and digital audio workstations, is viewed as an important aspect of the music's aesthetic. Many producers use retro electronic musical devices to create what they consider to be an authentic techno sound. Drum machines from the 1980s such as Roland's TR-808 and TR-909 are highly prized, and software emulations of such retro technology are popular among techno producers.
Tech house is a subgenre of house music that mixes elements of techno with house. The term tech house developed as a shorthand record store name for a category of electronic dance music that combined musical aspects of techno, such as "rugged basslines" and "steely beats," with the harmonies and grooves of progressive house. The music originally had a clean and minimal production style that was associated with techno from Detroit and the UK.
In the mid to late 1990s a scene developed in England around club nights such as The Drop run by the former Shamenrapper Mr C (Richard West) & Paul "Rip" Stone (co-founder with West of Plink Plonk), Heart & Soul, and Wiggle run by Terry Francis and Nathan Coles. Other DJs and artists associated with the sound at that time included Charles Webster, Bushwacka!, Cuartero, Dave Angel, Herbert, Funk D'Void, Ian O'Brien, Derrick Carter, and Stacey Pullen. By the late 90's London nightclub The End, owned by Mr C and Layo Paskin, was considered the home of tech house in the UK.