- Drum and bass
Drum and bass Stylistic origins Jungle, Breakbeat Hardcore, Hip Hop, Funk Cultural origins early/mid 1990s; Bristol and London, United Kingdom Typical instruments Synthesizer – Drum machine – Sequencer – Keyboard – Sampler – Personal computer DAW Mainstream popularity medium with some mainstream popularity Subgenres Darkstep - Drumfunk - Drumstep - Hardstep – Intelligent drum and bass - Jump-Up - Liquid Funk - Neurofunk – Techstep Fusion genres Digital Hardcore Regional scenes Sambass Other topics Drum and bass artists – Drum and bass record labels – History of drum and bass – Junglist – Jungle - Miami bass - Dubstep - Speed garage
Drum and bass (/ / drum-ənd-bayss) (also written as drum 'n' bass and commonly abbreviated to D&B, D+B or DnB) is a type of electronic music which emerged in the late 1980s. The genre is characterized by fast breakbeats (typically between 160–180 bpm, occasional variation is noted in older compositions), with heavy bass and sub-bass lines. Drum and bass began as an offshoot of the United Kingdom rave scene of the very early 1990s. Over the first decade of its existence, the incorporation of elements from various musical genres led to many permutations in its overall style.
- 1 History
- 2 Musicology of drum and bass
- 3 Record labels
- 4 Formats and distribution
- 5 Regional scenes
- 6 Media presence
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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 1992, 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" 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 n Bass that prior to Jungle, rave music was getting faster and more experimental. Professional DJ & 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 British 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. 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 recognizable 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 and Australia's Pendulum.
Musicology of drum and bass
Opinions vary on what constitutes "real" drum and bass as it incorporates a number of scenes and styles, from the highly electronic, industrial sounds of techstep through to the use of conventional, acoustic instrumentation that characterise the more jazz-influenced end of the spectrum. The sounds of drum and bass are extremely varied due to the range of influences behind the music. One of the more common and traditional elements is a prominent snare drum falling on the second and fourth beats.
Drum and bass could at one time be defined as a strictly electronic musical genre with the only 'live' element being the DJ's selection and mixing of records during a set. 'Live' drum and bass using electric, electronic and acoustic instruments played by musicians on stage would emerge in the ensuing years of the genre's development.
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 & roll breaks, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Temptations, Jackson 5, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, the Supremes, the Commodores, George Clinton, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Herbie Hancock, James Brown and even Michael Jackson, are funky influences on the music. One of the most influential tracks in drum and bass history was Amen Brother by The Winstons, containing a drum solo which went on to be 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.
By the late 1980s and early 1990s the tradition of break-beat use in hip-hop production had influenced the sound of breakbeat hardcore which in turn lead 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, Afrika Bambaata, De La Soul, 2 Live Crew, Jungle Brothers, Kool Keith, Run DMC, 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.
Miles Davis has also been named as a possible influence, and blues artists like Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Muddy Waters & B.B King have also been cited by producers as inspirations. Even modern avant-garde composers such as Henryk Gorecki have received mention.
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.
Many tracks belonging to other genres are 'remixed' into drum and bass versions. The quality of these remixes varies from the simple and primitive adding of broken beats to a vocal track or to complete reworkings that may exceed the original in quality and effort put into them. Original artists will often ask for drum and bass remixes of their tracks to be made in order to spark further interest in their tracks (for example, Aphrodite's remix of Jungle Brothers' "Jungle Brother").
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 coincidentally 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.
Other notable influences
In the US house scene which emerged in the 1980s, the most famous artist being NYC's Frankie Bones whose infamous 'Bones Breaks' series from the late '80s onwards helped push the house-tempoed breakbeat sound (especially in the UK) and can be said to be a direct precursor to the UK breakbeat/hardcore scene.
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 infamous basslines 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. 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.
The third precursor worth mentioning here is the Miami, USA Booty Bass/Miami Bass scene, first popularised by 2 Live Crew in the mid to late '80s. There are clear sonic parallels with drum and bass here in the use of uptempo synths and drum machines in producing bass-heavy party music.
Both the New York breakbeat and the Miami Bass scenes were strongly influenced by the 'freestyle' sound of New York, Chicago and Miami in the 1980s which incorporated electro, disco and Latin flavours, and which was in turn a key influence on the UK's acid house/hardcore/rave scene.
Drum and bassline elements
The genre places great importance on the "bass line", a deep sub-bass musical pattern which can be felt physically through powerful sound systems due to the low-range frequencies favoured. There has been considerable exploration of different timbres in the bass line region, particularly within techstep. The bass lines most notably originate from sampled sources or synthesizers. Bass lines performed with a bass instrument, whether it is electric, acoustic or a double bass, are less common but examples can be found in the work of bands such as Shapeshifter, Squarepusher, Roni Size and STS9. Sampled basslines are often taken from double bass recordings or from publicly available loops.
In drum and bass productions, the bass lines are often subjected to many and varied sound effects, including standard techniques such as dynamic compression, flanger, chorus, overdrive, equalization, and so on. and drum and bass specific techniques such as timestretched beats and the "Reese Bass", a distinctive synthesized bass sound comprising layered 'clashing' sawtooth waves. The term is a result of producer's Kevin Saunderson's notable use of it in his work under the Reese/Master Reese alias.
Of equal importance is the "808" kick drum, an artificially pitch-downed or elongated bass drum sound sampled from Roland's classic TR-808 drum machine, and a sound which has been subject to an enormous amount of experimentation over the years.
The complex syncopation of the drum tracks' breakbeat, is another facet of production on which producers can spend a very large amount of time. The Amen break is generally acknowledged to have been the most-used (and often considered the most powerful) break in drum and bass.
The Amen break was synonymous with early drum and bass productions but other samples have had a significant impact, including the Apache, Funky Drummer, "Soul Pride", "Scorpio" and "Think (About It)" breaks.
Many drum and bass tracks have featured more than one sampled breakbeat in them and a technique of switching between two breaks after each bar developed. Examples of this can be heard on mid-90s releases including J Majik's "Your Sound" and Doc Scott's "Machines". A more recent commonly used break is the Tramen, which combines the Amen break, a James Brown funk breakbeat ("Tighten Up" or "Samurai" break) and an Alex Reece drum and bass breakbeat.
The relatively fast drum beat forms a canvas on which a producer can create tracks to appeal to almost any taste and often will form only a background to the other elements of the music. Syncopated breakbeats remain the most distinctive element as without these a high-tempo 4/4 dance track could be classified as techno or gabber.
Drum and bass is usually between 160–190 BPM, in contrast to other breakbeat-based dance styles such as nu skool breaks which maintain a slower pace at around 130–140 BPM. A general upward trend in tempo has been observed during the evolution of drum and bass. The earliest forms of drum and bass clocked in at around 130 bpm in 1990/1991, speeding up to around 155–165 BPM by 1993. Since around 1996, drum and bass tempos have predominantly stayed in the 170–180 range. Recently some producers have started to once again produce tracks with slower tempos (that is, in the 150s and 160s), but the mid-170 tempo is still the hallmark of the drum and bass sound.
A track combining the same elements (broken beat, bass, production techniques) as a drum and bass track, but with a slower tempo (say 140 BPM), might not be drum and bass but a drum and bass-influenced breakbeat track.
Live performances of drum and bass music on electric and acoustic instruments will often entail a drop in relative BPM (though not necessarily), unsurprising in light of the complexity of drum patterns and the high exertion required of a drummer.
For the most part, drum and bass is a form of dance music designed to be heard in clubs. It exhibits a full frequency response which can only be appreciated on sound systems which can handle very low frequencies. As befits its name, the bass element of the music is particularly pronounced, with the comparatively sparse arrangements of drum and bass tracks allowing room for basslines that are deeper than most other forms of dance music. Consequently, drum and bass parties are often advertised as featuring uncommonly loud and bass-heavy sound systems.
There are however many albums specifically designed for personal listening. The mix CD is a particularly popular form of release, with a big name DJ/producer mixing live, or on a computer, a variety of tracks for personal listening. Additionally, there are many albums containing unmixed tracks, suited for home or car listening.
Many mixing points begin or end with the "drop". The drop is the point in a track where a switch of rhythm or bassline occurs and usually follows a recognizable build section and "breakdown". Sometimes the drop is used to switch between tracks, layering components of different tracks, though as the two records may be simply ambient breakdowns at this point, though some DJs prefer to combine breakbeats, a more difficult exercise. Some drops are so popular that the DJ will "rewind" or "reload" or "lift up" by spinning the record back and restarting it at the build. "The drop" is often a key point from the point of view of the dancefloor, since the drumbreaks often fade out to leave an ambient intro playing. When the beats re-commence they are often more complex and accompanied by a heavier bassline, encouraging the crowd to dance. The name of a subgenre of drum and bass, "jump up" initially referred to the urge for those seated to dance at this point.
DJ support (that is playing a track) in a club atmosphere or on radio is critical in track success, even if the track producer is well known. To this end, DJs will receive dubplates a long time before a general release of a track, sometimes many months before, in order to spark interest in it as well as benefit the DJ (exclusive and early access to tracks is a hallmark of DJ success, for example, the case of Andy C). Sometimes a DJ will receive versions of tracks that are not planned for general release, these are so-called VIP (Variation In Production) mixes.
MCs do not generally receive the same level of recognition as producer/DJs and some events are specifically marketed as being MC free. There are relatively few well-known drum and bass MCs, MC Infinity, MC GQ, Dynamite MC, MC Fats, MC Conrad, Shabba D, Skibadee, Eksman, Bassman, MC Stamina, MC Fun, Evil B, Trigga, Harry Shotta and Stevie Hyper D (deceased) as examples.
Differences between drum and bass and jungle
Presently the difference between jungle (or oldschool jungle) and Drum and Bass is a common debate within the "junglist" community. There is no universally accepted semantic distinction between the terms "jungle" and "Drum and Bass". Some associate "jungle" with older black sounding material from the first half of the 1990s (sometimes referred to as "jungle techno"), and see Drum and Bass as essentially succeeding Jungle. Others use Jungle as a shorthand for ragga jungle, a specific sub-genre within the broader realm of Drum and Bass. In the U.S., the combined term "jungle drum and bass" (JDB or JDNB) has some popularity, but is not widespread elsewhere.
Proponents of a distinction between jungle and drum and bass usually argue that:
- Drum and Bass has an integrated percussion and bass structure while jungle has a distinct bass line separated from the percussion.
- The relatively simple drum break beats of modern Drum and Bass (generally a two-step beat) are less complex than the 'chopped' 'Amen' breakbeats of jungle
- The usage of ragga and reggae vocals differentiates Drum and Bass from Jungle, but then again not all jungle has ragga/reggae vocals, some have other samples and some have no vocals.
The truth is more complicated than this, however. An often mistaken view of the difference between jungle and drum and bass, is that of making a distinction between two-step beat drum and bass and amen breakbeat drum and bass. This is really a distinction between tech-step drum and bass and the new style of drum & bass which occurred especially late-1994 and 1995. Drum and Bass really first referred to the increased attention to breakbeat editing. Perhaps the first track to explicitly use the term "drum and bass" to refer to itself as a different style was released in 1993. The producer The Invisible Man described it:
- "A well edited Amen Break alongside an 808 sub kick and some simple atmospherics just sounded so amazing all on its own, thus the speech sample "strictly drum and bass". A whole new world of possibilities was opening up for the drum programming... It wasn't long before the amen break was being used by practically every producer within the scene, and as time progressed the Belgian style techno stabs and noises disappeared and the edits and studio trickery got more and more complex. People were at last beginning to call the music Drum and Bass instead of hardcore. This Amen formula certainly helped cement the sound for many of the tracks I went on to produce for Gwange, Q-Project and Spinback on Legend Records. After a while, tracks using the Amen break virtually had a genre all of their own. Foul Play, Peshay, Bukem and DJ Crystal among others were all solid amen addicts back then too."
Since the term jungle was so closely related to the reggae influenced sound, DJs and producers who did not incorporate reggae elements began to adopt the term "drum and bass" to differentiate themselves and their musical styles. This reflected a change in the musical style which incorporated increased drum break editing. Sometimes this was referred to as "intelligence", though this later came to refer to the more relaxed style of drum and bass associated with producers such as LTJ Bukem.
Towards late 1994 and especially in 1995 there was a definite distinction between the reggae and ragga sounding jungle and the tracks with heavily edited breaks, such as the artists Remarc and The Dream Team on Suburban Bass Records. Ironically, one compilation which brought the term to the wider awareness of those outside the scene, 'Drum & Bass Selection vol 1' (1994), featured a large amount of ragga influenced tracks, and the first big track to use the term in its title (Remarc's 'Drum & Bass Wize', 1994) was also ragga-influenced.
The Dream Team consisted of Bizzy B and Pugwash; Bizzy B did however have a history of complex breakbeat tracks released before any real notion of a change in genre name. The genre change coincided with an increase of the use of the Reese bassline (Reese Project, Kevin Saunderson), as first featured on "Just Want Another Chance" by Kevin Saunderson (also famous for the group Inner City) released in 1988. Mid-1995 saw the coincidentally named Alex Reece's "Pulp Fiction" which featured a distorted Reese bassline with a two-step break, slightly slower in tempo, which has been credited as an influence in the new tech-step style which would emerge from Emotif and No U-Turn Records.
"Pulp Fiction was (and still is) a seriously badass tune, it was highly original at the time, and of course it will remain in the classic oldskool bag for many years to come. It was also the track that spawned hundreds of immitators of its "2-Step" style which unfortunately also lasted for many years to come.... hmmm... oh, and because the 2-step groove generally sounds slower, DnB then began to speed up way beyond 160bpm... say no more."
This has also led to the confusion of equating the "tech-step" sub-genre with drum and bass, as distinct from jungle, but "drum and bass" as a style and as a name for the whole genre already existed in 1995 before the release of Dj Trace's remix of T-Power's "Mutant Jazz" which appeared on S.O.U.R. Recordings in 1995 (co-produced by Ed Rush and Nico). Also note that Trace (artist), Ed Rush and Nico already had a history of producing jungle/drum & bass and hardcore in a variety of styles.
Another explanation for the name change is that the scene was running into problems because of violence blamed on the ragga part of the music, the media was full of stories condemning jungle and the violence it brought, so it was this bad media hype that resulted in the name change, which coincided with, and was made possible by the progression of the genre's sound.
Confusion is increased by the term "jump up" which initially referred to tracks with a had a change in style at the drop, encouraging people to dance. Initially these new drum and bass style tracks had breakbeat-heavy drops, but producers of around the same time were creating tracks with hip-hop style basslines at the drop. This would become a new sub-genre Jump-Up, though many of the early jump-up tracks incorporated edited amens at the drop. Influential artists include DJ Zinc, DJ Hype, Dillinja and Aphrodite (artist) amongst many others. The Dream Team would also produce jump-up tracks, usually under the name Dynamic Duo on Joker Records, in a style with similarities and differences to their Suburban Bass releases. Notice also the early use of the term "jump up jungle" rather than "jump up drum and bass". The pigeon-holes for genres changed so quickly that jump-up was quickly also called drum and bass even as a sub-genre.
Opponents of a distinction would argue that there are many modern drum & bass productions with separated basslines, complex breakbeats and ragga vocals. This comes, however, from a mistaken distinction between tech step and drum and bass as outlined above, probably from interest in the music after mid-1995 when there was the creation of a variety of new styles or sub-genres, including Roni Size's more jazz-influenced drum and bass, tech step and jump-up.
"At the end of the day I am an ambassador for Drum and Bass the world over and have been playing for 16 years under the name Hype... To most of you out there Drum and Bass will be an important part of your lives, but for me Drum and Bass/Jungle is my life and always has been... We all have a part to play and believe me when I say I am no fucking bandwagon jumper, just a hard working Hackney man doing this thing called Drum and Bass/Jungle." DJ Hype
Live drum and bass
Many music groups and musicians (such as Roni Size's Reprazent, Jojo Mayer's Nerve, Pendulum, Shapeshifter, E-Z Rollers, STS9, KJ Sawka, London Elektricity, Chase & Status, Johnny Rabb's BioDiesel, The Disco Biscuits, Lake Trout, La Phaze, Stefanik, Perny & Kollar ....) have taken drum and bass to live performances, which features an acoustic drum kit, synthesizers, bass (upright or electric), and other instruments. Samplers have also been taken live by playing samples on drum pads or synthesizers, assigning samples to a specific drum pad or key. MCs are frequently featured in live performances. Some acts such as Fragment use a lineup of a guitarist, bassist, at least one keyboardist, and an acoustic drummer, even if none of these instruments are present in the actual song, simply to give it a "thicker live sound". DJ FU and the Jungle Drummer also feature predominantly in modern day live dnb. Their show features them battling live on stage in a DJ v drummer scenario with Jungle Drummer drumming at speeds up to 180 bpm. Other acts to take note of on the live drum and bass scene include Pendulum, La Phaze and Chase & Status, who perform their tracks live. The DnB scene is still thriving in many urban area, with a particularly strong showing in LA amongst such dedicated clubs as The Dragonfly. This has given both of these bands a way to access the mainstream, giving drum and bass a more commercial edge. Some bands have even taken the term somewhat literally, such as Lightning Bolt, White Mice, and Comparative Anatomy (band).
Recently, smaller scenes within the drum and bass community have developed and the scene as a whole has become much more fractured into specific sub-genres. The generally accepted and most popular forms of drum and bass / jungle are:
- Darkstep (or "Darkside" or "Dark", the return of the old school sound of Drum and bass made with new technology – Current Value, Lucio de Rimanez, Limewax and many more)
- Drumfunk (or "Choppage", "Edits" – atmospheric drum and bass with heavy emphasis on break-styled drum loops, occasionally broken up by drumless atmospheric passages)
- Hardstep (A harder style of d&b which uses hard basslines and heavy yet simple electronic melodies for example,: The Panacea)
- Intelligent (or "Atmospheric" or "Ambient")
- Jazzstep (or "Jazz and Bass")
- Liquid funk (or simply "Liquid" - drawing heavily on harmonic grooves and samples from Funk music, Soul music, R&B, House music, Disco music, Pop Music and Synthpop)
- Sambass (or "Brazilian Drum and Bass")
- Techstep (or "Tech")
- Techno-DNB (or "Techno Drum and Bass")
- Neurofunk (or "Neuro" is the progression from Techstep)
The following would generally be described as separate genres by their proponents:
- Darkcore (both a precursor and a descendant of drum and bass since modern darkcore productions share much with darkstep)
- Ragga jungle (a modern sound which shares most if not all characteristics with early jungle music – difficult to differentiate – perhaps through frequent mention of H.I.M. Haile Selassie and other Rastafarian themes)
As with all attempts to classify and categorize music, the above should not be treated as definitive. Many producers release albums and tracks which touch into many of the above styles and there are significant arguments as to the classification of tracks as well as the basic defining characteristics of subgenres. The list of arguable subgenres in particular should not be treated as definitive.
The modern distinctive ragga jungle style (arguably subgenre or even separate genre) is a direct throwback to the 1994–1995 style of drum and bass production. However, many modern drum and bass mainstream productions contain ragga, dancehall and reggae elements, they are just not as dominant as previously.
Clownstep is not as it commonly misconceived to be, a derogatory term for "playful" Drum and Bass. "Clownstep" is a term which was popularised by Dylan, to jokingly describe how "Swing-beat" tunes like Bodyrock by Andy C made him think of clowns. DJ Clipz often produces songs adhering to the clownstep sound.
Drumstep, a somewhat misunderstood genre, is a term encompassing dubstep-styled tracks that borrow the tempo structure of drum and bass while retaining the percussive rhythm of dubstep. Rather than the syncopated double-time breaks or 2-step drum loops common in most drum and bass songs, drumstep adopts the half-time alternating kick-snare drum pattern on the 1st and 3rd beat of every measure commonly found in many dubstep tracks. As with all dubstep tracks, drumstep maintains a strong emphasis on deep bass. It often incorporates wobbles, hi-hats, and spliced samples to propel the rhythm in the absence of the emphasized percussion of regular drum and bass tracks. Unlike dubstep, however, the tempo of drumstep lies within the 170-190 BPM tempo of drum and bass, rather than the 140 BPM tempo of dubstep tracks. The term is somewhat controversial due to the already present similarities between dubstep and drum and bass, and is often used as a "grey area" term for tracks that draw influences from both of its parent genres. As a result, many dubstep tracks that emphasize heavily syncopated drum patterns are often mislabeled as drumstep, and songs that undergo the change from dubstep to drum and bass or vice versa (such as Zomboy's "Game Time" and Modestep's "Sunlight") are often classified as drumstep as well.
Genres influenced by drum and bass
Speed garage and 2step in the UK were born at the height of the popularity of jungle, copying the bass-lines, fast tempo (though much slowed down), ragga vocals (with frequent MC accompaniment) and production techniques. They may be referred to as descendants of drum and bass and at one time drove drum and bass into relative obscurity. Grime and dubstep, their descendants, have driven these genres underground whilst drum and bass has survived and evolved. Dubstep combines sounds of 2step with the deep basslines and the reggae vibe of early jungle.
Born around the same time as jungle, breakcore shares many of the elements of drum and bass and to the uninitiated, tracks from the extreme end of drum and bass, may sound identical to breakcore thanks to speed, complexity, impact and maximum sonic density combined with musical experimentation. Raggacore resembles a faster version of the ragga influenced jungle music of the 1990s, similar to breakcore but with more friendly dancehall beats (dancehall itself being a very important influence on drum and bass). Darkcore a direct influence on drum and bass, is itself heavily influenced by drum and bass, especially darkstep. There is considerable crossover from the extreme edges of drum and bass, breakcore, darkcore and raggacore with fluid boundaries.
Despite never gaining the mainstream popularity of speed garage and 2step, drum and bass' impact in musical terms has been very significant and the genre has influenced many other genres like jazz, metal, hiphop, big beat, house music, trip hop, ambient music, techno, hardcore and pop, with artists such as Bill Laswell, Slipknot, Incubus, Pitchshifter, Thomas Lang, Refused, Linkin Park, The Roots, Tabla Beat Science, Talvin Singh, Nitin Sawhney, MIDIval Punditz, Jedi Mind Tricks, Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Pharell, Fat Boy Slim, Lamb, Underworld, The Streets, The Freestylers, Nine Inch Nails and David Bowie (the last two both using elements of Goldie's "Timeless") and others quoting drum and bass and using drum and bass techniques and elements. This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of impact and influence. The USA has adopted the sound with a genre called Ghettotech which have synth and basslines similar to drum & bass.
Drum and Bass as a whole is dominated by a small group of "hardcore" record labels. These are run mainly by some of the scene's most prominent DJ–producers, such as DJ Friction's Shogun Audio , London Elektricity's Hospital Records, Andy C's Ram , Goldie's Metalheadz, Chris Renegade's Lifted Music, DJ Fresh's Breakbeat Kaos and DJ Hype, Pascal and formerly DJ Zinc's True Playaz (now known as Real Playaz as of 2006).
The major international music labels such as Sony Music, Universal have shown very little interest in the drum and bass scene though there has been a few signings, most recently Pendulum's In Silico LP to Warner. Roni Size's Full Cycle Records, which played a big, if not the biggest, part in the creation of Drum and Bass, with their dark, baseline sounds. V.Recordings was also a massive part of the development of Drum and Bass. With Roni Size, Krust and Dj Die producing tracks which were considered to be the first mainstream Drum and Bass tracks.
In recent times, Andy C's label Ram Records (UK) is pushing the boundaries of drum and bass further into the mainstream with artists such as Chase and Status and Sub Focus releasing may tracks on RAM  Chase & Status as well as Pendulum are already hovering in the mainstream and singles like "DJ Marky and XRS – LK" have in the past topped the UK charts. A new movement has become apparent with ST Holdings and SRD supporting new UK Future Jungle Labels Run Tingz Recordings and Armageddon beats backed by the controversial international Advertising Guerrilla Media Group. Bringing back UK Jungle Music legends from LTJ Bukem's label Good Looking artists Bay B Kane Breakbeat Hardcore heavyweight Nebula II and Original Junglist Gappa G who had a big hit with Information Center after remix's from DJ Zinc and Ray Keith.
Formats and distribution
Drum and bass is mostly sold in 12-inch vinyl single format. With the emergence of drum and bass into mainstream music markets, more albums, compilations and DJ mixes are sold on CDs. Still, purchasing drum and bass music can involve searching for new releases in specialized record shops or using one of the many online vinyl, CD and MP3 retailers.
Drum and bass used to be purchased in the form of "tape packs", which are a collection of recordings recorded at a selected rave or party. Each tape contains the set by one DJ at that particular rave/party including the MCs.
Most tape packs contained 8 tapes with sets from different DJs. More recently tape packs have become available on CD as tape cassettes are being phased out and recordable CD media is more available, although the CD packs still retain their traditional name of "tape packs". Most of these packs contain 6 CDs.
The bulk of drum and bass vinyl records and CDs are distributed globally and regionally by a relatively small number of companies such as SRD (Southern Record Distributors), ST Holdings, & Nu Urban.
Despite its roots in the UK, which can still be treated as the "home" of drum and bass, the style has firmly established itself around the world. There are strong scenes in other English-speaking countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. It is popular throughout continental Europe, and in South America. São Paulo is sometimes called the drum and bass Ibiza. Brazilian drum and bass is sometimes referred to as "sambass", with its specific style and sound. In Venezuela and Mexico, artists have created their own forms of drum and bass combining it with experimental musical forms. Asia also has a drum and bass scene in countries and cities like Hong Kong, Japan, Shanghai and Singapore.
Drum and Bass is widely promoted throughout the world using different methods such as: video sharing services (YouTube, Dailymotion), blogs, radio and television, the latter being the most uncommon method. More recently the importance of the internet in promotion is increasing. Music networking websites such as SoundCloud and MixCloud have become powerful tools for artist recognition, providing a vast platform that enables quick responses to new tracks. The more market savvy record labels have adopted the use of Podcasts, these are an efficient way for the labels to keep their fan-base up to date with news on events and products. Audience participation in Podcasts can also develop a sense of community around the label itself, strengthening its following.
The two highest profile radio stations playing drum and bass shows are The Drum and Bass Show with Fabio and Grooverider on BBC Radio 1, simulcast in the US and Canada on Sirius XM, and DJ Hype on Kiss 100 in London. The BBC's "urban" station BBC 1Xtra also features the genre heavily, with DJs Bailey and Crissy Criss as its advocates. The network also organises a week-long tour of the UK each year called Xtra Bass. London pirate radio stations have been instrumental in the development of Drum and Bass, with stations such as Kool FM (which continues to broadcast today having done so since 1991), Don FM (the only Drum and Bass pirate to have gained a temporary legal license), Rude FM, Origin FM, Wax Fm and Eruption amongst the most influential.
Internet Radio stations, acting in same light as pirate stations, have also been an instrumental part in promoting drum and bass music; the majority of them funded by listener and artist donations. Sites such as Bassdrive (est. 1999), JungleTrain (est. 2001), DnbRadio (est. 2002) were among the first and currently the stations of the 21st century.
In North America, XM Satellite, 89.5 CIUT (Toronto), Album 88.5 (Atlanta) and C89.5fm (Seattle) have shows showcasing drum and bass. Seattle also has a long standing electronica show known as Expansions on 90.3 FM KEXP. The rotating DJ's include Kid Hops, whose shows are made up mostly of drum and bass. In Columbus, Ohio WCBE 90.5 has a two hour electronic only showcase, "All Mixed Up," Saturday nights at 10pm. At the same time WUFM 88.7 plays its "Electronic Playground." Also, Tulsa, Oklahoma's rock station, 104.5 The Edge, has a two hour show starting at 10:00PM Saturday nights called Edge Essential Mix mixed by DJ Demko showcasing electronic and drum and bass style. While the aforemention shows in Ohio rarely play drum and bass the latter plays the genre with some frequency. In Tucson, Arizona 91.3 FM KXCI has a two hour electronic show known as "Digital Empire", Friday nights at 10pm (MST). Resident DJ Trinidad showcases various styles of electronica, with the main focus being drum and bass, jungle & dubstep. Founded in 2002, Digital Empire features weekly guest DJs and producers, as well as an extensive online playlist and live webstream at KXCI's website.
In New Zealand, Aeon hosts a 4 hour Drum & Bass show called System Bypass on 105.4 BOPFM (Tauranga) every Sunday night from 7:00pm to 11:00pm, featuring some of New Zealand's, and the world's, latest Dnb tunes. Aeon also hosts a Dubstep show every Thursday on BOPFM.In Auckland, DJ Dub Panda and HT host a 3hr drum and bass and dubstep show called The Sunday Lax on 87.9FM from 1pm-4pm, featuring the very latest and greatest in global and NZ drum n bass and dubstep.
In Australia, Spikey Tee plays an hour long Drum and Bass show, every Saturday night at 2am on 97.7 fm Sbs Radio Alchemy(Sydney)
In the Philippines, 103.5 Max FM has "The Bass Hour" every Saturday at midnight that caters to nothing but bass music.
In Belgium, the national radio station "Studio Brussel" has a weekly show called "Jungle Fever" the radio show is hosted by Murdock, one of the famous Drum n Bass dj's in Belgium.
In Estonia, Radio 2 has two shows, which play DnB – "Tramm ja Buss" (hosted by dj/producer S.I.N & the legend in Estonian D'n'B sceen Raul Saaremets) and "Tjuun In" (hosted by Qba, To-Sha and L.Eazy).
The best known drum and bass publication was Kmag magazine(formerly called Knowledge Magazine) before it went completely online in August 2009. Other publications include the longest running drum and bass magazine worldwide ATM Magazine, and Austrian-based Resident. Toronto-based Rinse Magazine, dedicated to the North American drum and bass scene, and established in 2002 by publisher John Tan, ran for 28 issues, ending in 2007. The editor was Richard Yuzon. London based 'DJ' magazine has also been running a widely respected drum and bass reviews page since 1993, written by Alex Constantinides, which many followers refer to when seeking out new releases to investigate.
- A History of Rock Music, 1951–2000 by Piero Scaruffi (ISBN 978-0595295654), nonfiction in HTML form
- All Crews: Journeys Through Jungle / Drum and Bass Culture by Brian Belle-Fortune (ISBN 0-9548897-0-3), nonfiction
- "Roots 'n Future" in Energy Flash by Simon Reynolds, Picador (ISBN 0-330-35056-0), nonfiction (British edition)
- Generation Ecstasy : Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture by Simon Reynolds, Routledge. (ISBN 0415923735), nonfiction (American edition)
- Rumble in the Jungle: The Invisible History of Drum and Bass by Steven Quinn, in: Transformations, No 3 (2002), nonfiction (ISSN 1444-377) PDF file
- State of Bass: Jungle - The Story So Far by Martin James, Boxtree (ISBN 0-7522-2323-2), nonfiction
- The Rough Guide to Drum 'n' Bass by Peter Shapiro and Alexix Maryon (ISBN 1-85828-433-3), nonfiction
- King Rat by China Miéville (ISBN 0-330-37098-7), fiction
Drum and bass has a very strong, important and vocal online presence with many dedicated portals, forums, communities and internet radio stations – the internet has to much degree superseded the role of pirate radio stations in spreading and popularising the genre, as the stations have switched to newer genres. Internet sites are a source of the latest mixes (professional or amateur) and tracks by unsigned producers Drum and Bass for unsigned artists. The dominant and most popular websites are Dogs On Acid and Drum and Bass Arena. YouTube has played a major role for Drum and Bass on the internet with the appearance of Pandadnb in 2006, DnBrevolution in 2007 and later followed by Drum and Bass Arena, UKF and various other successful channels.
Certain drum and bass releases have found mainstream popularity in their own right, almost always material prominently featuring vocals.
Perhaps the earliest example was Goldie's Timeless album of 1995, along with Reprazent's Mercury Music Prize-winning New Forms in 1997, 4hero's Mercury nominated Two Pages in 1998, and Pendulum's Hold Your Colour in 2005 (the biggest selling Drum And Bass album of all time.) Tracks such as Shy FX and T-Power's "Shake UR Body" gained a UK Top 40 Chart placing in 2005.
Video games such as Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto series have contained drum and bass tracks. The MSX/MSX 98 radio station by DJ Timecode in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, played drum and bass exclusively.
The genre has some popularity in soundtracks, for instance Hive's "Ultrasonic Sound" was used in the Matrix's soundtrack and the E-Z Rollers' song "Walk This Land" appeared in the film "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels". Ganja Kru's "Super Sharp Shooter" is heard in the 2006 film Johnny Was.
The Channel 4 show Skins uses the genre in some episodes. Notably in Series 1 – Episode 3 (Jal) Shy-Fx and UK Apache – Original Nuttah is played in Fazers club.
Drum and bass often makes an appearance as background music, especially in Top Gear and television commercials thanks to its aggressive and energetic beats. Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block also employs it for television spots and show intros,like the relaunch of SCI FI Channel (1997) segue music by Jungle Sky label. However, due to the relative obscurity of the genre, most listeners would not recognize the music as drum and bass.
- History of drum and bass
- List of jungle and drum and bass artists
- List of jungle and dnb emcees
- Category:Drum and bass record labels
- List of electronic music genres
- Oldschool jungle
- Drum and Bass Arena
- Dogs On Acid
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- ^ "Tramm ja buss" description Raadio 2 (Estonian)
- ^ "Tjuun In" description Raadio 2 (Estonian)
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- ^ The Pop Life article, New York Times, September 17, 1997
- History of drum & bass, a BBC timeline on the history of drum & bass with track listings, quotes and samples
Drum and bass Other electronic music genres
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