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4-beat is a sub-genre of hardcore that is closely related to several other sub-genres of hardcore music, such as happy hardcore (the happier variant of breakbeat hardcore), breakbeat hardcore (the genre that 4 beat evolved from) and darkcore (the counter-movement to happy hardcore) and grabs a few influences from bouncy techno as well.
Some specifications of this music include its fast tempo, typically ranging from 150 beats per minute to 170 beats per minute, which is quite fast for an individual genre, but still one of the slower genres to fall under hardcore. While this music is typically instrumental, if there is a vocalist present, it will typically be a female voice (but usually just samples from other sources, not an actual singer for the artist).
The term "4 beat" only indicates that there are four beats to the bar, or that it's in common 4/4 time. This is a typical mistake that many people make when referring to this genre of music. Many think that this music won't have breakbeats because of this, and that isn't the case, because this music will typically feature breakbeats in several portions of the song.
And while breakbeats will be found within this music, a bass drum hitting on the fourth notes will be the structure of most of the song, with breakbeats throughout the music to compliment the backing percussion construction (nice). However, later in this genre's life, the breakbeats had subsided a bit becuase of bouncy techno's influence (focusing on a steady beat, dropping a lot of the breakbeats). Melodic hooks will usually be played with a piano and sometimes soft strings in a style that will sound "happy," in a sense.
During the early to mid-1990s, this genre came into being from the earlier genre breakbeat hardcore (which at the time, covered most types of hardcore, if not all types), it's from this that it evolved into 4 beat. It originated from the United Kingdom, and because of the magnitude of the rave scene there, this music was almost exclusively created and sold in England.
Happy hardcore is the term used to describe the happier variants of this music, while just the term "hardcore" is used in England to describe this type of music (all types of 4 beat, not just the happier variants), with its breakbeat heavy, fast paced and sometimes melodic and vocalized sound.
Darkcore was a weak and short-lived attack on happy hardcore, focusing on, well, being the opposite of happy, featuring horror-type sounds (like people screaming, alarms, sirens, etc... Similar to dark ambient in this regard) or low, sinister sounding basslines.
Average Beats Per Minute: 150-170
Where It Originated: England, United Kingdom
Stylistically Similar To: Breakbeat Hardcore, Happy Hardcore, Bouncy Techno
Year Developed: Mid-1990s
General Hardcore - Back to the overview of hardcore.
4-Beat - Yes, it has four beats to the bar, along with other specifics.
Bouncy Techno - Deriving from gabber, while dawing influences from techno as well.
Breakbeat Hardcore - Hardcore breakbeats, influenced by techno and house music.
Darkcore - You won't be finding any happiness here.
Digital Hardcore - Fast, aggressive and full of attitude, these guys mean business.
Gabber - Be a Gabber for life and the Gabbers will welcome you with open beats.
Happy Hardcore - You won't be finding any darkness here.
Speedcore - It's fast, aggressive and angry. Perfectly fits into the hardcore puzzle.
UK Hardcore - Can you guess where this music comes from?
You are at 4-beat.