I am currently in the process of researching Breakbeat music in more depth. So, in the meantime, I have just copied the summary section of Breakbeat music from Wikipedia. Keep checking back for the finished product and don’t forget to look at all the related blog entries!

Stylistic origins: rave, techno, hip-hop, dancehall
Cultural origins: early 1970s New York City, mid-1990s, London, Brighton, Bristol
Typical instruments: synthesizer, drum machine, sequencer, keyboard, sampler, laptop
Mainstream popularity: small, largely in late 1990s United Kingdom as well as United States, Australia and Europe.
Derivative forms: big beat
Subgenres: funky breaks, 2Step, hardcore, breakcore, broken beat, drill’n’ bass, drum’n’bass, grime, jungle, nu skool breaks, techstep

Breakbeat (sometimes breakbeats or breaks) is a term used to describe a collection of sub-genres of electronic music, usually characterized by the use of a non-straightened 4/4 drum pattern (as opposed to the steady beat of house or trance). These rhythms may be characterised by their intensive use of syncopation and polyrhythms, which are prominent in all music of African origin, including African American music although the actual instruments used in breakbeat music makes it more closely related to techno and other forms of electronic music than African or African-American genres.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, hip-hop DJs (starting with DJ Kool Herc) began using several breaks (the part of a funk or jazz song in which the music “breaks” to let the rhythm section play unaccompanied) in a row to use as the rhythmic basis for hip-hop songs. One of the most commonly-used breaks was the Amen Break, which has appeared in many songs from many different genres.

In the early 1990s, acid house artists and producers started using breakbeat samples in their music to create breakbeat hardcore, aka rave music. The hardcore scene then diverged into sub-genres like Jungle and Drum and Bass, which generally had a darker sound and focused more on complex sampled drum patterns. A good example of this is Goldie’s album ‘Timeless’.

In recent times, the term breakbeat has become synonymous with the many genres of breaks music which have become popular within the global dance music scene, including big beat, nu skool breaks and progressive breaks. DJs from a variety of genres, including house and techno, work breaks tracks into their sets. This may occur because the tempo of breaks tracks (ranging from 115 to 150 beats per minute) means they can be readily mixed with these genres, whereas the comparatively fast speed of jungle and drum and bass (165-180 bpm) may have restricted the utility of these subgenres to DJs playing slower-tempo music.

Breakbeat (or funky breakbeat) may also refer to the music of bands such as Breakestra, who play funk and soul music with an emphasis on the elements that became popular in hip-hop and later breaks-based music. This sound is characterized by slower tempos (80-110 bpm) and organic, “human” rhythms. It is sometimes differentiated by the term “broken beat”.


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3 Responses to “Breakbeat”

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i am also researching the history and development of breakbeat.

i am doing this for my BTEC at college, and i was wondering if you have any good websites, books and other resources that i could use?

thank you

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Break beat music must go back to it’s roots since it lost it’s uniqeness.
original Breakbeat is now criated only by a few original artists like Druma Vebassa – ENJOY GREAT MUSIC ALWAYS!

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