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Break Music (Breakbeat)

electronic music genres

Break music (more commonly known as "breakbeat") covers types of music that focus on the heavy use of breaks and break beats (Note: "Breakbeat" is a genre, while a breakbeat is a syncopated drum sample, the key element of break music). This genre can best be described by defining the word "break." In music, a break can vary, depending on what style of music it's used in.

The "SOUND" section of this page will go into further detail regarding the different types of breaks, when they're used, and in what genre they're used in. This should provide a better understanding of break music and its related sub-genres.

sound of electronic music

With respect to DJs, a break will usually be a small frame of time where everything except the percussion is cut out. This shouldn't be confused with a breakdown, where the entire song is essentially "broken down". In this effect, the song's rhythm and effects are greatly reduced or muddled, giving the stage to the vocalist, if one is present. And even if a one isn't, a breakdown can still be used to great effect.

In electronica music, a break will consist of a "cut" and "drop". The "cut", where most of the sound is removed (sometimes, for a better effect, everything is cut, leaving only silence), and the "drop", where the percussion, rhythm and other effects will come back into play. Sometimes, for a greater effect still, more or different instruments or effects will be added or removed on the "drop".

In jazz, a break can be used to introduce a solo. This is done by toning down, or even cutting instrumentation entirely for a very short time. This gives the soloist the spotlight for a few seconds (you know, like when it gets quiet, and the guy in front bends backwards, unleashing a flurry of notes with his saxophone). The soloist will continue to play after that short time, but with the accompaniment of the other instruments.

In pop, a break is generally used as a "break" from the overall tone of the song, and will likely be purely instrumental. Sometimes it's simply the absence of singing, where other times it could introduce an entirely new melody or rhythm sequence.

history of electronic music

Breakbeats (while not being the genre, but the form of drum syncopation) could be found being used nearly 100 years ago in the 1920s. In jazz music, specifically. Break beats, and how they were used, would become more modern with the advent of the turn tables.

One of the most popular ways of using these turn tables for breakbeat, is to have two of the same records, with one on each side. This allowed the DJ to repeat parts of the music, while further manipulating the individual records, to get the music's desired sound and length.

The term "break music" or "breakbeat "arose in the 1980s, in the United Kingdom. It was here that the breakbeat genre was born, formed and developed. During the late 1990s, breakbeat would find some mainstream success in the United Kingdom, as well as the United States.

General Break Specifications

Average Beats Per Minute: 110-140

Where It Originated: United Kingdom

Stylistically Similar To: Jazz, Funk, Hip-Hop

Year Developed: Late 1980s

Below is an incomplete list of the many sub-genres that make up break (in alphabetical order). You are on the "General Break" page right now, clicking it will return you here.


General Break - Back to the overview of break.

Acid Breaks - By combining the styles of breakbeat and acid, a new genre is born.

Baltimore Club - Influenced by hip-hop and breakbeat, join the club!

Big Beat - Characterized by its unusually big and powerful presence.

Broken Beat - If it's not broken, don't fix it... Oh, wait...

Nu Skool Breaks - Harder. Darker. Heavier. This is the new school.

You are at break music.

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