Drum and bass  

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"What is now a complex mixture of influences and genres began from humble roots in the UK. Though many debate the original drum & bass record, it was a combination of Lenny De Ice's "We are ie" and the late 1989 Perfecto release 'Baz De Conga' which pioneered the movement. The cut was an amalgamation of ideas and sounds, combining the sax drop from "Monkey Say, Monkey Do" with Steel City bleeps and a gospel vocal lift. What producer Steve Bicknell brought to the cut however was attitude - the whole mix powered by a tumbling sub roll, clattering breakbeats and an unrelenting synth strike."-- 1997, VN's Kingsley Marshall[1]


"What's The Story? Is there a year zero with clearly mapped co-ordinates for the beginning of jungle? When did we first fall in love with subsonic bass, breakbeats and digital creation? You can trace the raw concepts back to Meat Beat Manifesto's 'Radio Babylon' or DJ Kool Herc's pre-hip hop invention of breakbeats. Perhaps you prefer to root the whole thing in 'Amen Brother' by The Winstons or 'Think' by Lyn Collins - the two tracks that spawned drum n' basses favourite drum breaks." -- author unknown[2]

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Drum and bass 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 jungle and 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.

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 have shown very little interest in the drum and bass scene. 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.

History

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a growing nightclub and overnight outdoor event culture gave birth to a new electronic music style called rave music, which, much like hip-hop, combined sampled syncopated beats or breakbeats, other samples from a wide range of different musical genres and, occasionally, samples of music, dialogue and effects from films and television programmes. But rave music tended to feature stronger bass sounds and a faster tempo (127 to over 140) beats per minute (BPM) than that of early house music. This subgenre was known as "hardcore" rave 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, rave 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.

Influences

The amen break was the main starting influence for Drum and Bass. Jungle threw in more whistles and bells and MC's. Jungle has a distinct African flow which is "dirty". Drum and Bass for mainstream UK was clean and formal. A very obvious and strong influence on jungle and drum and bass, thanks to the British African-Caribbean sound system scene, is the original Jamaican dub and reggae sound, with pioneers like King Tubby, Peter Tosh, Sly & Robbie, Bill Laswell, Lee Perry, Mad Professor, Roots Radics, Bob Marley and Buju Banton heavily influencing the music. This influence has lessened with time but is still evident with many tracks containing ragga vocals.

As a musical style built around funk or syncopated rock and roll breaks, James Brown, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, the Supremes, the Commodores, Jerry Lee Lewis and even Michael Jackson, are funky influences on the music. Jazz pioneer Miles Davis has been named as a possible influence. Blues artists like Lead Belly, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Muddy Waters and B.B King have also been cited by producers as inspirations. Even modern avant-garde composers such as Henryk Gorecki have received mention. One of the most influential tracks in drum and bass history was "Amen Brother" by The Winstons which contains a drum solo that has since become known as the "Amen break", which after being extensively used in early hip hop music, went on to become the basis for the rhythms used in drum and bass.

Kevin Saunderson released a series of bass-heavy, minimal techno cuts as Reese/The Reese Project in the late '80s which were hugely influential in drum and bass terms. One of his more famous basslines (Reese – "Just Want Another Chance", Incognito Records, 1988) was indeed sampled on Renegade's Terrorist and countless others since, being known simply as the 'Reese' bassline. He followed these up with equally influential (and bassline-heavy) tracks in the UK hardcore style as Tronik House in 1991–1992. Then there was Radio Babylon by Meat Beat Manifesto. Another Detroit artist who was important for the scene is Carl Craig. The sampled-up jazz break on Carl Craig's Bug in the Bassbin was also influential on the newly emerging sound, DJs at the Rage club used to play it pitched up (increased speed) as far as their Technics record decks would go.

By the late 1980s and early 1990s the tradition of breakbeat use in hip hop production had influenced the sound of breakbeat hardcore, which in turn led to the emergence of jungle, drum and bass, and other genres that shared the same use of broken beats. Drum and bass shares many musical characteristics with hip-hop, though it is nowadays mostly stripped of lyrics. Grandmaster Flash, Roger Troutman, Afrika Bambaata, Run DMC, Mac Dre, Public Enemy, Schooly D, N.W.A, Kid Frost, Wu-Tang Clan, Dr. Dre, Mos Def, Beastie Boys and the Pharcyde are very often directly sampled, regardless of their general influence.

Clearly drum and bass has been influenced by other music genres, though influences from sources external to the electronic dance music scene perhaps lessened following the shifts from jungle to drum and bass, and through to so-called "intelligent drum and bass" and techstep. It still remains a fusion music style.

Some tracks are illegally remixed and released on white label (technically bootleg), often to acclaim. For example, DJ Zinc's remix of The Fugees' "Ready or Not", also known as "Fugee Or Not", was eventually released with the Fugees' permission after talk of legal action, though ironically the Fugees' version infringed Enya's copyright to an earlier song. White labels along with dubplates play an important part in drum and bass musical culture.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Drum and bass" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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