Infobox Music genre
name = Gabber
bgcolor = silver
color = black
cultural_origins = Early 1990s,
instruments = Keyboard,
synthesizer, drum machine, sequencer, sampler
popularity = Moderate in the '90s
Gabber (IPA pronunciation: English /gæ.bər/, Dutch /xɑbər/), gabba or hardcore, is a style of
electronic musicand a subgenre of hardcore techno. "Gabber" literally means "buddy" or "friend". Although in the late 1980s, a house variant from Detroitfirst reached Amsterdam(the Netherlands), it was the producers and DJs from Rotterdamwho evolved it into a harder house variant which we today know as "Gabber" style or "Hardcore". The specific sound of Rotterdam was also created as a reaction to the house scene of Amsterdam which was seen as more "snobby and pretentious". And with Rotterdam being a gritty working class city, this type of house music fit well. Though house productions from Frankfurt's Marc Acardipanewere quite similar to the Rotterdam style, it was the popularity of this music in the Netherlands which made Rotterdam the cradle of Hardcore Gabber. The essence of the gabber sound is a distorted kick sound, overdriven to the point where it becomes clipped into a distorted square waveand makes a recognizably melodic tone. Often the Roland Alpha Juno or the kick from a Roland TR-909was used to create this sound. Gabber tracks typically include samples and synthesised melodies with the typical tempo ranging from 150 to 220 bpm. Violence, drugs and profanity are common themes in gabber, perceptible through its samples and lyrics, often screamed, pitch shifted or distorted.
The origins of the gabber sound
In general the track "We Have Arrived" (1990) by
Mescalinum Unitedis considered to be the first gabber track. Hardcore/gabber music is a fusion of techno and industrial with a dark, aggressive atmosphere. In the early to mid nineties a clear gabber fashion took form. Between 1993 and 1998 loads of gabber fans dressed in (multiple, layered) tracksuits, Nike Air Maxsport shoes (with punctured air chambers), bomber jackets or leather jackets, and the majority of the male gabbers had shaven heads. Female fans often shaved the sides and back of their head and wore their hair in a pony tail.
The style began in the late 1980s, but some claim that it was diluted in 1995 by
happy hardcoreand, for hardcore fans, by commercialisation which resulted in a younger crowd being attracted to the scene. The commercial organisation ID&Thelped a lot in making the music popular by organising parties (most notable are the Thunderdome parties) and selling merchandise. The name gabber is somewhat less used these days to describe this music style, especially due to this stigma created in the mid 1990s. Many would now prefer to call the style 'hardcore'. After surviving underground for a number of years, in 2002 the style regained some popularity in the Netherlands, although the sound is more mature, darker and industrial. Around the world, it never lost its original grip, and music was evolving and creating new subgenres and approaches, from Digital Hardcoreto Breakcore, from Noisecoreto Speedcore.
Nu style gabber
There was a somewhat decisive split in the hardcore scene starting in the late 1990s. Some producers started embracing a slower style characterized by a deeper, harder bass drum that typically had a longer envelope than was possible in the traditional, faster style. This newer sound was referred to as "Main stream" or "New Style" (or "Nu Style") and "New Skool" and as the tempo got slower and slower it began to become similar to
hard house. Many hardcore enthusiasts hated hard house and the club scene it typified, and frequently DJs would be booed by one group of fans and cheered for by another at the same party, depending on the tempo and style of music they were playing. This is similar to the rivalry and mutual dislike that surfaced earlier between fans of "regular" hardcore and happy hardcore. Eventually the two styles met in the middle, and most gabber today is produced in a bpm range of 160-170. This is typically a little bit slower than the Rotterdam style of the mid-1990s and somewhat faster than the slowest New Style tracks that emerged.
Gabber is characterised by its bass drum sound. Essentially, it comes from taking a normal synthesized bass drum and overdriving it heavily. The approximately sinusoidal sample starts to clip into a square wave with a falling pitch. This results in a number of effects: the frequency spectrum spreads out, thus achieving a louder, more aggressive sound. It also changes the amplitude envelope of the sound by increasing the sustain. Due to the distortion, the drum also develops a melodic tone. It is not uncommon for the bass drum pattern to change pitch throughout the song to follow the bass line.
The second frequently used component of gabber tracks is the "hoover", a patch of the
Roland Alpha Junosynthesizer. A "hoover" is typically a distorted, grainy, sweeping sound which, when played on a low key, can create a dark and brooding bass line. Alternatively, when played at higher pitches, the hoover becomes an aggressive, shrieking lead. Faster gabba tracks often apply extremely fast hoover-patterns. The use of the hoover has evolved over the years, and in the nuskool genre, most tracks rely on a cleaner, detuned supersawlead, similar to trance.
The aforementioned two subgenres of gabber differ in essentially one thing: the tempo.
* Oldskool gabber, staying true to its mentality, defines "hardness" in speed; tracks rarely go under 180 BPM, and bass drum rolls often go up to a speed where the beats themselves are hardly distinguishable from each other.
* Nuskool gabber, however, slows the speed down to 160 BPM, but extends the length of the bass drum so the bass-frequency resonance keeps on longer. (In this aspect, "nugabber" obviously cannot be considered less powerful than its precursor, although slower hardcore is often less energetic.) A typical style is one best made known by
Rotterdam Terror Corps: the beats are divided into triplets and all hoover notes are played in a short, staccato-like fashion, giving the song a march-like feel.
In the early 1990s, gabber gained a following in the neo-fascist rave scenes of
Germanyand the American Midwest. [Silcott, Mireille. "Rave America: New School Dance Scapes". (Toronto: ECW Press, 1999), 114-117.] However, most gabber fans do not belong to the aforementioned groups, and many producers have released tracks that vocally speak out against racism. [United Hardcore Against Racism & Hate - Time to Make a Stand (HUR 001, Hardcore United Records, 2005. http://www.discogs.com/release/478145), DJ Chosen Few - Chosen Anthem (Against Racism)(MOK 8, Mokum Records 1993. http://www.discogs.com/release/21108) Party Animals feat. MC Rob Gee - Die Nazi Scum (MOK 54, Mokum Records 1996. http://www.discogs.com/release/21181) Hellcore - Fuck the Nazism (BDR-CD-02, Braindestruction Recordz, 2003. http://www.discogs.com/release/210584) ]
List of gabber artists
* [http://www.gabberplanet.it Gabber Planet] Gabber Planet, the biggest Italian hardcore community by Dj 3-mor
* [http://www.thunderdome.web.pt Portuguese Hardcore Gabber Portal] Info on Hardcore and Thunderdome
* [http://www.geordiegabbamafia.org Geordie Gabba Mafia (Newcastle, UK)] Artists and DJs from Newcastle (UK) Gabber scene. Run by DJ Smurf
* [http://www.cyberrave.info CyberRave] European Gabber site Germany, Holland, Italy and UK
* [http://www.rave-o-lution.nl Rave-O-Lution] The oldest, since 1995, online hardcore site with loads of pictures and scene info
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