Dubstep

Description

Dubstep (/ˈdʌbstɛp/) is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in South London, England. The music website Allmusic has described its overall sound as "tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals".[1] The earliest dubstep releases date back to 1998 and were darker, more experimental, instrumental dub remixes of 2-step garage tracks attempting to incorporate the funky elements of breakbeat, or the dark elements of drum and bass into 2-step, which featured as B-sides of single releases. In 2001, this and other strains of dark garage music began to be showcased and promoted at London's night club Plastic People, at the "Forward" night (sometimes stylized as FWD>>), which went on to be considerably influential to the development of dubstep. The term "dubstep" in reference to a genre of music began to be used by around 2002 by labels such as Big Apple, Ammunition, and Tempa, by which time stylistic trends used in creating these remixes started to become more noticeable and distinct from 2-step and grime.

A very early supporter of the sound was BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, who started playing it from 2003 onwards. In 2004, the last year of his show, his listeners voted Distance, Digital Mystikz, and Plastician (formerly Plasticman) in their top 50 for the year. Dubstep started to spread beyond small local scenes in late 2005 and early 2006; many websites devoted to the genre appeared on the internet and aided the growth of the scene, such as dubstepforum, the download site Barefiles and blogs such as gutterbreakz. Simultaneously, the genre was receiving extensive coverage in music magazines such as The Wire and online publications such as Pitchfork Media, with a regular feature entitled The Month In: Grime/Dubstep. Interest in dubstep grew significantly after BBC Radio 1 DJ Mary Anne Hobbs started championing the genre, beginning with a show devoted to it (entitled "Dubstep Warz") in January 2006.

Towards the end of the decade the genre started to become more commercially successful in the UK, with more singles and remixes entering the music charts. Music journalists and critics also noticed a dubstep influence in several pop artists' work. Around this time, producers also began to fuse elements of the original dubstep sound with other influences, creating fusion genres including the slower and more experimental post-dubstep, and the harsher electro house and heavy metal influenced brostep, the latter of which greatly contributed to dubstep's rising mainstream popularity in the United States.

 

Characteristics

Dubstep's early roots are in the more experimental releases of UK garage producers, seeking to incorporate elements of drum and bass into the South London-based 2-step garage sound. These experiments often ended up on the B-side of a white label or commercial garage release. Dubstep is generally instrumental. Similar to a vocal garage hybrid – grime – the genre's feel is commonly dark; tracks frequently use a minor key and can feature dissonant harmonies such as the tritone interval within a riff. Other distinguishing features often found are the use of samples, a propulsive, sparse rhythm, and an almost omnipresent sub-bass. Some dubstep artists have also incorporated a variety of outside influences, from dub-influenced techno such as Basic Channel to classical music or heavy metal.

 

Rhythm

Dubstep rhythms are usually syncopated, and often shuffled or incorporating tuplets. The tempo is nearly always in the range of 138–142 beats per minute, with a clap or snare usually inserted every third beat in a bar. In its early stages, dubstep was often more percussive, with more influences from 2‑step drum patterns. A lot of producers were also experimenting with tribal drum samples, an example being Loefah's early release "Truly Dread".

In an Invisible Jukebox interview with The Wire, Kode9 commented on a DJ MRK1 (formerly Mark One) track, observing that listeners "have internalized the double-time rhythm" and the "track is so empty it makes [the listener] nervous, and you almost fill in the double time yourself, physically, to compensate".

 

Wobble bass

One characteristic of certain strands of dubstep is the wobble bass, often referred to as the "wub", where an extended bass note is manipulated rhythmically. This style of bass is typically produced by using a low-frequency oscillator to manipulate certain parameters of a synthesizer such as volume, distortion or filter cutoff. The resulting sound is a timbre that is punctuated by rhythmic variations in volume, filter cutoff, or distortion. This style of bass is a driving factor in some variations of dubstep, particularly at the more club-friendly end of the spectrum.

 

Structure, bass drops, rewinds, and MCs

Originally, dubstep releases had some structural similarities to other genres like drum and bass and UK garage. Typically this would comprise an intro, a main section (often incorporating a bass drop), a midsection, a second main section similar to the first (often with another drop), and an outro.

Many early dubstep tracks incorporate one or more "bass drops", a characteristic inherited from drum and bass. Typically, the percussion will pause, often reducing the track to silence, and then resume with more intensity, accompanied by a dominant subbass (often passing portamento through an entire octave or more, as in the audio example). It is very common for the bass to drop at or very close to 55 seconds into the song, because 55 seconds is just over 32 measures at the common tempo of 140 bpm. However, this (or the existence of a bass drop in general) is by no means a completely rigid characteristic, rather a trope; a large portion of seminal tunes from producers like Kode9 and Horsepower Productions have more experimental song structures which do not rely on a drop for a dynamic peak – and in some instances do not feature a bass drop at all.

Rewinds (or reloads) are another technique used by dubstep DJs. If a song seems to be especially popular, the DJ will "spin back" the record by hand without lifting the stylus, and play the track in question again. Rewinds are also an important live element in many of dubstep's precursors; the technique originates in dub reggae soundsystems, is a standard of most pirate radio stations and is also used at UK garage and jungle nights.

Taking direct cues from Jamaica's lyrically sparse deejay and toasting mic styles in the vein of reggae pioneers like U‑Roy, the MC's role in dubstep's live experience is critically important to its impact.

Notable mainstays in the live experience of the sound are MC Sgt Pokes and MC Crazy D from London, and Juakali from Trinidad. Production in a studio environment seems to lend itself to more experimentation. Kode9 has collaborated extensively with the Spaceape, who MCs in a dread poet style. Kevin Martin's experiments with the genre are almost exclusively collaborations with MCs such as Warrior Queen, Flowdan, and Tippa Irie. Skream has also featured Warrior Queen and grime artist JME on his debut album, Skream!. Plastician, who was one of the first DJ's to mix the sound of grime and dubstep together, has worked with notable grime setup Boy Better Know as well as renowned Grime MC's such as Wiley, Dizzee Rascal and Lethal Bizzle. He has also released tracks with a dubstep foundation and grime verses over the beats. Dubstep artist and label co-owner Sam Shackleton has moved toward productions which fall outside the usual dubstep tempo, and sometimes entirely lack most of the common tropes of the genre.

 

 

...more info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubstep

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