A history of drum'n'bass music. Includes free downloads

The history of Drum’n’bass music is one of great interest to all electronic musicians. Often abbreviated as D’n’B, is a genre that emerged in the early 1990s within the UK’s electronic dance music scene. Characterised by its high-tempo breakbeats, heavy bass and sub-bass lines, the history of drum’n’bass has evolved from rave and jungle scenes showcasing a distinctive amalgamation of breakbeat hardcore, techno, and a variety of influences ranging from funk to Jamaican reggae. Its rapid emergence is attributed to its ability to assimilate and adapt different musical styles into its core sound, making it dynamic and constantly evolving.

A crowded underground club pulses with the energy of electronic beats. Dancers move to the fast-paced rhythm as the DJ mixes and scratches vinyl records, creating the distinctive sound of drum'n'bass music

The evolution of drum’n’bass has been marked by its experimentation and innovation, with artists, DJs, and producers continuously pushing the boundaries of the genre. As it progressed, sub-genres such as liquid funk, neurofunk, and jump-up emerged, each with their unique stylistic traits. This spectrum of styles within the genre reflects not just the diversity of its sound, but also the diversity of its audience. Drum’n’bass has left a lasting cultural impact, influencing various art forms and being a significant part of the UK’s music legacy, resonating with audiences worldwide.

Key Takeaways

  • Drum’n’bass originated within the UK rave scene, blending breakbeats with a myriad of influences.
  • The genre is notable for its fast tempo, heavy basslines, and innovative sub-genres.
  • Its cultural influence extends beyond music into broader artistic expressions globally.

Origins and Evolution

In tracing the lineage of drum and bass, it is essential to recognise how jungle, breakbeat, and the rave scene primed the genre for its distinct emergence. The 1990s were pivotal in shaping drum and bass, marking its transition from underground raves to a genre with international acclaim and a host of subgenres.

Emergence of Drum and Bass

From the bustling clubs of London, drum and bass first announced its arrival on the music scene in the early 1990s. Originating from the UK hardcore and rave scenes, it was a direct evolution of jungle with a speedier tempo and a focus on breakbeat rhythms, most notably the Amen break, a drum solo that has become synonymous with the genre.

Influence of Other Genres

Drum and bass is deeply rooted in a variety of genres, notably including reggae, dub, hip-hop, and acid house. The fusion of these styles, coupled with rare groove and black music from the United States, helped to forge the distinctive high-energy tempo and bass-heavy sound that defines drum and bass.

Regional Growth

Taking root primarily in London and Bristol, the genre quickly spread throughout the United Kingdom. Cities like Manchester and Birmingham also became hotspots. In parallel, drum and bass began to permeate through the Netherlands and Germany, indicating the genre’s potential for international reach.

The 1990s: Formative Years

The 1990s were instrumental for the genre, as it evolved from jungle and UK hardcore scenes of the mid-90s. Originating in raves and underground clubs, it became a staple in the evolving EDM landscape. The Amen break played a critical role in shaping the breakbeat patterns that are characteristic of drum and bass.

Subgenres and Expansion

As drum and bass matured, it branched out into various subgenres, each with unique characteristics. Darkcore, techstep, jump up, and liquid funk are some of the styles that emerged. Neurofunk and liquid displayed the genre’s versatility, blending elements from jazz, funk, and soul.

International Influence and Fusion in the History of Drum’n’Bass Music

The influence of drum and bass extended globally, impacting a wide range of music styles. In the UK, has played a particularly influential role in the development of dubstep, grime, and UK garage. Therefore, on an international level, it has been fused with various local music scenes, demonstrating the genre’s adaptability and how it resonates beyond its United Kingdom origins.

Key Artists and Labels

The scene depicts a timeline of key artists and labels in the history of drum'n'bass music, showcasing the evolution and impact of the genre

The history of drum’n’bass is rich with influential artists and record labels that have shaped the genre. From the underground clubs to mainstream recognition, these entities have also contributed to the ever-evolving drum’n’bass soundscape.

Pioneers of Drum and Bass

LTJ Bukem and Goldie stand as monumental figures in the evolution of drum’n’bass, both introducing a distinctive sound that infused elements of jazz, atmospheric synths, and intricate breakbeats. With tracks like “Demon’s Theme” and “Inner City Life,” they set the stage for future generations of producers.

MCs and Live Performances

Live performances in drum’n’bass are often energised by the presence of MCs, with entities such as The Ragga Twins and MC Det pioneering the contribution of reggae and ragga vocals over the fast-paced rhythms of drum’n’bass tracks. Their unique style bridged genres, influencing an array of artists that followed.

Iconic Record Labels

Movement within the drum’n’bass genre was significantly influenced by seminal record labels like Moving Shadow and Metalheadz. Both labels not only released genre-defining tracks but also nurtured a culture that supported the growth of the scene. Moving Shadow’s catalogue showcased the diversity within the genre, featuring artists like DJ Zinc and 2 Bad Mice.

The History of Drum’n’Bass Music in The Metalheadz Era

Founded by Goldie, Kemistry, and Storm, the Metalheadz label emerged as a driving force behind the darker, more experimental sounds of drum’n’bass. Artists such as Doc Scott and Krust, alongside label co-founder Goldie, released tracks that would become classics, encapsulating the edgy, urban flair synonymous with the Metalheadz name.

Musical Characteristics Throughout the History of Drum’n’Bass Music

A pulsating bassline reverberates through a dimly lit underground club, as syncopated rhythms and intricate breakbeats fill the air. The crowd moves in unison to the infectious energy of the drum'n'bass music

The history of Drum’n’bass music is renowned for its intricate production techniques, the evolution of its signature breakbeats, and also the heavy emphasis on bass and sub-bass elements.

Production Techniques

When creating drum’n’bass tracks, producers often use a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), which allows for the intricate manipulation of sound. The staples of production in drum’n’bass include sampled breakbeats and synthesised basslines, all crafted in the DAW environment. Layers of sounds are intricately woven together—each with processed effects such as reverb, delay, and modulation to create a rich tapestry of audio.

How Has the History of Drum’n’Bass Music Influenced the Breakbeat Evolution?

The term ‘breakbeat’ refers to the drum patterns that break away from the standard four-on-the-floor of house music. Therefore, elements such as the Amen Break, a six-second drum sample from the song “Amen, Brother” by The Winstons, is the most widely used breakbeat in drum’n’bass. Throughout the evolution of the genre, breakbeats have also been sped up, layered, and chopped to create complex rhythmic structures, which lie at the heart of drum’n’bass.

What is The Role of Bass and Sub-Bass in the History of Drum’n’Bass Music

In drum’n’bass, the bassline—often a deep and powerful sound—is a central feature that determines the energy and mood of the track. Sub-bass frequencies provide a physical sensation that is just as important as the audible component of the music. These bass lines are carefully sculpted using various synthesis techniques to create sounds that can range from smooth and rolling to distorted and aggressive, giving drum’n’bass its distinct, visceral feel.

Cultural Impact

The crowded dance floor pulses with energy as the DJ mixes intricate drum patterns and deep bass lines, capturing the essence of drum'n'bass music's cultural impact

The cultural impact of the history of drum’n’bass music is evident in its permeation through mainstream media. Therefore, the endurance of rave culture and festivals have provided influence on various other music genres. Its distinct sound and energetic beats have marked a significant footprint within the music industry and also in pop culture.

The History of Drum’n’Bass Music in Mainstream Media

Drum’n’bass has also carved out a place for itself in mainstream media, with tracks featuring in commercials, films, and even video games, underpinning intense action sequences with its rapid breakbeats. The genre’s exposure has elevated drum’n’bass from underground clubs to a broader pop culture audience. Therefore, television soundtracks often utilise the high-energy rhythms of drum’n’bass to amplify the excitement or tension within a scene.

Rave Culture and Festivals

The rave scene remains integral to the drum’n’bass movement, with festivals dedicated solely to this genre, serving as a gathering for junglists—ardent fans of drum’n’bass. These events not only celebrate the music but also the communal spirit and the unique, freewheeling lifestyle that raves encapsulate. Festivals and raves are pivotal in not just maintaining but also propelling the genre’s vitality and continued relevance.

How Has Drum’n’Bass Music Influenced Other Genres

Drum’n’bass has significantly influenced other music genres, such as dubstep, grime, and UK garage. Often, it shares the sub-bass element with these genres, adding depth and a characteristic sound that is further moulded to fit the specific style. The influence extends to electronic dance music (EDM) and various forms of electro, blending and bending the sonic boundaries between them.

Frequently Asked Questions About the History of Drum’n’Bass Music

A timeline of key events in the history of drum'n'bass music, from its origins in the UK rave scene to its global impact today

This section delves into common queries about the drum and bass genre, from its origins to its most influential artists.

Who are some pioneering artists in the history of drum’n’bass music?

Pioneering artists in drum and bass include Goldie, Roni Size, and also Andy C. These individuals are particularly known to have played a pivotal role in shaping the genre’s sound and delivering its global recognition.

What were the defining characteristics of drum and bass music in the 1990s?

The defining characteristics of drum and bass in the 1990s were fast breakbeats. These are typically between 160–180 bpm. They also include heavy bass and sub-bass lines, and the use of samples. This combination gave the genre a distinct, energetic vibe.

Which genres are considered the precursors to drum and bass?

Genres such as reggae, hip-hop, and rave are considered the precursors to drum and bass. These former genres also provide a foundation in rhythm and experimentation that influenced the genre’s beginning.

What was the first ever drum and bass track and who produced it?

The distinction of the first drum and bass track is often debated. However, “Valley of the Shadows” by Origin Unknown is frequently cited as an early, formative track of the genre.

In which countries is the history of drum’n’bass music most prevalent?

Drum and bass is most prevalent in the UK, its birthplace. However, it has also gained significant followings in countries such as New Zealand, Brazil, and the Czech Republic.

Can you describe the various subgenres within drum and bass?

The drum and bass genre includes several subgenres lsuch as liquid funk, characterised by its melody and harmonies. There is also neurofunk. As well as its technical precision and complex production. it is jump-up, which has a more playful and energetic sound.

Download Some of Our Drum’n’Bass Tracks Free

As it’s Friday today, we wouldn’t let the day go without giving you some kind of freebie. Therefore, Everhald has been busy in the studio, making you some drum’n’bass tracks to go with this post. This work is yet to be released on Distrokid. However, you can download it by clicking the images below and following the prompts.