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Drumstep

Drumstep is a dance-floor friendly variant of Drum n Bass which rose to prominence in the 2000s and 2010s in the UK and is still an underground and commercial success.  Drumstep is defined as being highly synthed, heavy and grimey basslines, but its defining feature is that it is halfstepped.

Drumstep is not to be confused with Dubstep, which is often the case.  Dubstep has tempos of around 130-150 BPM whereas Drumstep has tempos of 175-185 BPM, and often has sections of Jump-Up and Upfront Drum and Bass to add variety into the tunes.

Originally it wasn’t defined as a subgenre, it was simply known as halfstepped Drum and Bass, but with the rise of Dubstep, it was required it be defined to separate the 2 genres.

Popular artists known for Drumstep are artists such as Skrillex, Knife Party, Nero, et al.

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Intelligent Dance Music (IDM)

Intelligent dance music (commonly IDM) is a form of electronic music that emerged in the early 1990s. It was originally influenced by developments in underground dance music such as Detroit Techno and various breakbeat styles that were emerging in the UK at that time.  Stylistically, IDM tended to rely upon individualistic experimentation rather than adhering to musical characteristics associated with specific genres of dance music.  The range of post-techno styles to emerge in the early 1990s were described variously as art technoambient technointelligent techno, and electronica.  In the United States, the latter term is now used by the music industry as a catchall to describe EDM and its many derivatives.

The term IDM is said to have originated in the United States in 1993 with the formation of the IDM list, an electronic mailing list originally chartered for the discussion of music by (but not limited to) a number of prominent English artists, especially those appearing on a 1992 Warp Records compilation called Artificial Intelligence.

Usage of the term “intelligent dance music” has been criticised by electronic musicians such as Aphex Twin as derogatory towards other styles and is seen by artists such as Mike Paradinas as being particular to the U.S.

During the late 1980s, a number of UK based electronic musicians were inspired by the underground dance music of the time and started to develop their own styles. By the early 1990s, the music associated with this experimentation had gained prominence with releases on a variety of record labels including Warp Records (1989), Black Dog Productions (1989), R & S Records (1989), Carl Craig’s Planet E,Rising High Records (1991), Richard James’s Rephlex Records (1991), Kirk Degiorgio’s Applied Rhythmic Technology (1991), Eevo Lute Muzique (1991), General Production Recordings (1989), Soma Quality Recordings (1991), Peacefrog Records (1991), and Metamorphic Recordings (1992).

Ambient house, a genre that fused house music (particularly acid house) with ambient music, was being produced in the United Kingdom around this time, by bands such as The Orb. A major influence on ambient house was Japan’s Yellow Magic Orchestra, sometimes cited as one of the pioneers of ambient house.  During the early 1990s, the term “ambient house” became synonymous with intelligent dance music in general, but was eventually replaced by several other terms.  Following the lead of ambient house, ambient techno music was soon produced by artists such as Aphex Twin and Japan’s Tetsu Inoue. Ambient techno distinguished itself with strong techno and electro influences, including more extensive use of Roland’s TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines. The term “ambient techno” was eventually replaced by “intelligent techno” following the success of Warp’s Artificial Intelligence series.

By 1992, Warp Records was marketing the musical output of the artists on its roster using the description electronic listening music, but this was quickly replaced by intelligent techno. In the same period (1992–93), other names were also used, such as armchair techno,ambient techno, and electronica, but all were attempts to describe an emerging offshoot of electronic dance music that was being enjoyed by the “sedentary and stay at home”. Steve Beckett, co-owner of Warp, has said that the electronic music the label was releasing at that point was targeting a post-club, home-listening audience. In 1993 a number of new record labels emerged that were producing intelligent techno geared releases including New Electronica, Mille Plateaux, 100% Pure, and Ferox Records

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Brostep

Brostep is a term coined in America as the new manifestation of Dubstep over in America.  The term brostep has been used by some as a pejorative descriptor for a style of popular Americanised Dubstep. Dubstep purists have levelled criticism at Brostep because of its preoccupation with “hard” and aggressive sounding timbres.  U.S. and Canadian artists often drew inspiration from British producers who tended to work less with sub-bass and more with mid-range sounds such as Rusko and Vex’d.  Rusko himself has claimed in an interview on BBC Radio 1Xtra that “Brostep is sort of my fault, but now I’ve started to hate it in a way… It’s like someone screaming in your face for an hour… you don’t want that.”

Brostep has the similar beat patters as Dubstep, but with less usage of the sub-bass and much more usage of heavily processed mid-bass and synths to produce a very “thick” sound.  Usage of sine waves to give the “computer speak” noises is also very popular in Brostep.

Brostep has very little in ways of Dubstep influences, no Jamaican or Caribbean roots, and in some Dubstep producers minds has turned its back on its roots – which is always a sure sign of the genre not being around for long.

 

 

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Chill Out

Chill out music emerged in the early and mid-1990s in “chill rooms” at dance clubs, where relaxing music was played to allow dancers a chance to “chill out” from the more emphatic and fast-tempo music played on the main dance floor.

The genres associated with chill-out are mostly ambient, trip-hop, nu jazz, ambient house, New Age and other sub-genres of downtempo. Sometimes the easy listening sub-genre lounge is considered to belong to the chill-out collection as well. Chill out as a musical genre or description is synonymous with the more recently popularized terms “smooth electronica” and “soft techno” and is a loose genre of music blurring into several other very distinct styles of electronic and lo-fi music.

The earliest mentioned “chill out room” was at the legendary Madchester nightspot, Konspiracy.  In these rooms, visitors would find couches, comfortable pillows, psychedelic light shows projecting entrancing images and music that was decidedly downtempo, especially when compared to what was going on a few feet away on the dance floor. Its history began in the UK, with post-punk band The Durutti Column being an abstract influence on the genre in the ’80s. Higher Intelligence Agency (the HIA) helped move the chill room concept from sideshow to main event with their Oscillate chill party events in Birmingham and elsewhere in the early to mid nineties. Their first releases came out on the now defunct Beyond record label and soon thereafter in the U.S. on the Waveform label – who describes the music as ‘exotic electronica.’

In 1990 the KLF released their seminal ambient house album named Chill Out.

A number of compilations with “Chill Out” in their titles were released in the mid-1990s and beyond, helping to establish the genre as being closely related to downtempo and trip hop but also incorporating, especially in the early 2000s, slower tempo varieties of house music, nu-jazz, psybient, and lounge music of approximately 80 to 110bpm . The genre also includes some forms of trance music,ambient music, and IDM, and it has entirely subsumed the older genre Balearic Beat, although that term is still used interchangeably with chill out. Chill out is generally tonal, relaxing (or at least not as “intense” as other music from the styles it draws from), although when used to describe the music played in chillout rooms at raves, it can also encompass extremely psychedelic experimental sounds of great variety.

 

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Hard Trance

Hard trance is the natural progression of trance music merging gabber, techno and trance, and originated in Europe, mainly Belgium, Germany and Holland in the mid 1990s.

Hard trance is synonymous with hard and strong kicks with resonant bass ala gabber and usual trance synth riffs to give it the signature trance sound.  Melody is around 130-150 and is mainly instrumental as vocalisation of the songs gives it a more uplifting warmer sound.  It has since evolved and is now mainly a dead genre form, overtaken by genres such as Hardstyle and Jumpstyle.

Hard trance saw a lot of commercial success in the late 1990s with productions from the likes of Cosmic Gate and Technikal achieving commercial success with Hard trance.

 

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The Hardcore Genre – A General Overview

The Hardcore genre surprisingly has one of the broadest terms of all EDM.  There are dozens and dozens of sub-genres but they are incredibly varied.  The term hardcore usually means music that is darker and harder, but not necessarily faster.

Hardcore as a word (in relation to EDM) can trace its roots to Belgium.  A number of artists such as à;GRUMH… and later Leather Strip began to call their music hardcore techno.  The origins of the name are largely rooted in this scene, although hardcore also regularly incorporated elements of house into its sound.

In the early 1990s, the hardcore sound began to introduce sped up hip-hop breakbeats, piano breaks, dub and low frequency basslines and cartoon-like noises, which has been retrospectively called ‘old skool’ hardcore, and is widely regarded as the progenitor of happy hardcore (which later lost the breakbeats) and jungle (which alternatively lost the techno style keyboard stabs and piano breaks).  This is more or less down to the further development of the synthesizer and the very creative use of the Amen Break.

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Tribal House

Tribal house is a subgenre of house music, rising to popularity in the early 1990s in New York.  Tribal house is loosely defined by the additional of tribal or ethnic style samples or vocals, with features such as chanting or ululation.  A large usage of bongo drum samples and traditional wood or percussion instrument samples give the music its tribal feel, coupled with the use of tribal vocals give Tribal house its distinctive sound.

As with a lot of house genres, the big players of the house music scene dip into Tribal house from time to time, with artists such as Danny Tenaglia, Sandy Rivera, Peace Division and Junior Vasquez have all made Tribal house tracks in their time.

Tribal house in its current guise is very popular in the gay party scene.  This is heavily due to gay-oriented music labels such as Tribal America, Twisted and Star 69, who put on gay nights and festivals.

Presently, tribal house remixes played by DJs frequently are the ‘dub’ versions, remixes that use only minimal vocals from the original track, with the music often in a minor key to keep it sounding edgier and more tribal, unlike the major key that a more mainstream club remix might use.

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