Drum & Bass: Everything You Need To Know


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So if you are really keen to know what exactly is Drum and Bass, then we have got it covered for you. Well, let’s just start with the basics.

What’s Drum & Bass?

Drum and Bass

Drum and Bass is a category of EDM or electronic dance music. Many critics say that drum and bass is a fusion of reggae music with fast techno breakbeats and described it to be ‘Avant – funk.’ The concept of Drum and Bass as a branch of EDM emerged in the early 1990s in the United Kingdom – especially London and Bristol where the ‘jungle and rave scenes’ were common – as a popular form of dance music worldwide. Drum and Bass essentially include, as the name suggests, music created by the use of electronic drums and bass guitar and other instruments.

Also known as Drum ‘n’ Bass, D&B and even D ‘n’ B, this genre of EDM of is a combination of many instruments such as a drum machine, synthesizer or musical keyboard, bass and electronic guitars, and other gadgets and computers which deal with digital audio. The locals also credit Drum and Bass in the creation of ‘grime music,’ ‘dubstep,’ and ‘the UK garage’ as other forms of EDM based on Drum and Bass. Other sub-genres of Drum and Bass include ‘Drill n bass,’ ‘Neurofunk,’ ‘Darkstep,’ ‘Liquid Funk,’ ‘Footwork,’ ‘Techstep,’ ‘Drumstep’ to name a few of them.

Overall, Drum and Bass have played in being a major influencer of other genres of music such as hip – hop, techno, house music, jazz, rock, trip-hop, pop, etc. Surprisingly, international music record labels have not shown much interest in this EDM genre of Drum and Bass which is why it is dominated mostly by a small group of music labels which have recognized its true value.

Drum and Bass continues to be a popular form of EDM in the United Kingdom. Plus, it has also acquired popularity in other countries such as the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Austria, Greece, Germany, etc.

Let’s take a look at its origin

Drum and Bass DJ

Drum and Bass DJ playing on CDJ’s during party.

The period of later the 1980s to early 1990s was a rewarding time for the EDM genre of music because this was the time when most of the experimentation with music was done. The nightclub and underground scene in the United Kingdom, popular for its rave and jungle themes, featured as the birthing ground of Drum and Bass as a new electronic music style. This music was created by mixing breakbeats with other varied variety of genres of music like reggae, blues, hip hop, etc and sometimes with dialogues or effects featuring on televisions, films, and radios.

While the late 1980s is recognized as the time when Drum and Bass were created, the late 1990s is known for introducing a more hardcore version or sub-genre/theme of Drum and Bass known as the ‘jungle techno.’ EDM fans say that this form of Drum and Bass was heavily influenced by Jamaican music and musicians like Jack Smooth who was a professional DJ and played an instrumental role in popularizing this form of music.

Historically speaking, Drum and Bass have had a colorful start. Many associates this form of EDM with extreme rave party scenes where drugs like ecstasy were taken as a form of enjoyment and gang-related violent crimes which explains why Drum and Bass can sometimes have aggressive undertones has and almost destructive themes. However, despite its ‘rocky’ beginning, critics Drum and Bass mostly had a positive and progressive impact on its listeners.

Impressed with its history? Well, let’s try to understand what it has to offer
It is difficult to exactly pinpoint the musical features of Drum and Bass but the basis can be found in the fusion of electronic and industrial techstep. The instruments of Drum and Bass are used in different variations depending on the themes and undertones of this type of EDM. Initially, it was associated only with the mixing of a certain selection of songs by the DJ but over the years, it progressed vastly to become what it is today.

As mentioned earlier, the jungle theme of the underground and outdoor rave scene of the United Kingdom was a great influence on Drum and Bass. The Drum and Bass in mid-90s was heavily based on undertones gotten from the Jamaican, Caribbean and basically African music and reggae musicians and artists like Buju Banton, King Tubby, Bob Marley, Lee Perry and many such more. Over the years this influence has obviously reduced but traces of it can still be heard in many EDM tracks.

Some of the ‘Drum’ components include Sampling which was basically popularized by an EDM track known as ‘Amen, Brother’ which was typically known as the ‘Amen Break’ because of the key role it played in providing a breakthrough in the ways in which Drum and Bass could be created and heard. Other elements include synthesis of different musical sounds with dialogues and other sounds and Rhythm composition, a very famous example being the EDM soundtrack of ‘Your Sound’ by J Majik.

Bass components mainly depend on the variations in the bass line of the instrument. A deeper sound can be used to convey a powerful message, and at the same time, a lower bass line or a subdued timber can be used to convey subtlety. Essentially the usage of the bass line mainly depends on the theme of the music.

Drum and Bass is a very progressive branch of EDM, which allows a musician great freedom in creating a musical piece. The tempo, the bass line, the way instruments are used, adding vocal elements or other melodies are decided basically as per the wishes of the artist making the music.

Worldwide Presence of Drum and Bass

The United Kingdom was at the center of the creation of Drum and Bass but over the years the influence of this EDM style of dance music has spread all over the globe. While the UK will always be the ‘home’ of Drum and Bass, many other countries like Canada, Australia, South Africa, United States, and other such English speaking countries have not only embraced Drum and Bass but also played a key role in its development. Present statistics show that Drum and Bass are quite famous and heavily promoted in Central Europe and South American countries as well.

Conclusion

Well, this should give you a well fair-share of knowledge about Drum and Bass music now. If you have any queries or anything else to add, we would like to know in the comment section just below.

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