Archive for category The Breakbeat Genre

Big Beat

Big Beat is commonly understood to have its origins in the UK in the early 1990s which fuse together Breakbeat rhythms, commonly loops from popular music with heavily distorted basslines, and typical synths from the 1990s.

The phrase came from the duo Big Bang who during an interview described their sound as Big Beat leading to the article title “Big Bang in Clubland.  Could BIG BEAT be the 1989 answer to ACID HOUSE?”

The style achieved create commercial success with producers such as The Prodigy, Fat Boy Slim, The Chemical Brothers and Cut La Roc to name a few.  The main reason for their commercial success was the Pop nature of the songs, being short, with a distinct chorus and verse structure with lyrics, and, especially in the USA, the heavy rock influence and samples used attributed to the success of Big Beat.

The style is no longer attributed to any releases, having faded by the turn of the 21st century, but was seen as an important genre as it blended rock and club music and gave rise to greater appreciation of both genres.


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The Breakbeat Genre – A General Overview

Breakbeat as a term can be traced back to the 1970s with the origin of hiphop in the USA, and the early rave scene in the 1980s in the UK.  There is a lot of argument about which was more prominent, but its safe to say that they developed their own styles in parallel

Breakbeat is the cornerstone of hundreds of genres of EDM giving the suffix “-step” to many of them to describe the syncopated or polyrhythmic beat structures.

Breakbeat usually takes the form of a non-standard 4/4 drum pattern to add creativity to what can be seen as a very monotonous 4 on the floor beat patterns of house or techno for example.

In the 1960s and 1970s during the rise of funk and soul music, bands would have “breaks” in the song where the drumer has a short 4 or 8 bar solo.  With the invention of synthesizers in the 1980s people would sample these breaks, and “chop” them into their individual components.  This allowed the DJ to create their own drum patters, miles away from the synthesized drum hits that the machinery could manage.  The most famous of this is from the song “Amen, Brother” by The Winstons, becoming known as the Amen Break.

Without this particular breakbeat, its widely accepted that hiphop, jungle and subsequently drum and bass would not be the powerhouses they are today.

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