What Is Drum And Bass?

A look at how drun and bass is becoming part of our culture without us even realizing it.

Many musical genres have long since taken their baby steps before the general public tends to notice them. Rock and roll was already coming into it's own before Alan Freed dubbed the famous moniker. Rap was long the voice of the street in New York before the Sugar Hill Gang took the Chic bass line from "˜Good Times' and gave us "˜Rapper's Delight.' So long before David Bowie became entranced with drum and bass, it was the new hip music playing in the clubs in New York and London.

Drum and Bass is a form of dance music in which the name is taken from the part of the song where the music breaks down to just the drums and the bass. It is a relatively new genre of dance music. It is really fast, usually around 140-170 beats per minute. The oddity here, though, is that a lot of the singing and music in a drum and bass track plays at half of this speed, so usually only the drums are moving this fast. This gives almost a Coltrane-type of feeling to this genre, a sense of chaos and freedom that before was not felt in the confines of electronic music.

Though started in the London club scene in the early 90s by Fabio and Grooverider, it has spread rather quickly. It is not uncommon to hear drum and bass in Volkswagen commercials and during movies. In the last couple of years, soundtracks to Senseless, Pi, The Jackal, The Saint and Lost Highway have all contained tracks that could be considered drum and bass. David Bowie completed an entire electronic album in 1997, Earthling, which included quite a bit of drum and bass. That same year, Roni Size's first major label album, New Forms, won the Brit Award for Album of the Year. It is a very encompassing genre, because just as easily as it can be fierce and manic it can be lush and soothing. Drum and Bass is one of the most creative, innovative, and flexible genres of music today.

It's good for people to be exposed to something before they know what it is. It helps to ease it into their minds. Drum and Bass is strange enough at times that many people would not even give it a chance had they not already been exposed. At times, it is almost like the science fiction of musical genres, like something we enjoy seeing but turn our heads at the most graphic point. It is not for everyone, but if interested in exploring a bit more, here is a list of wonderful drum and bass albums to get you started:

-Roni Size/Reprazent""New Forms

-Alex Reece""So Far


-Various artists""This Is Jungle Sky,vol. 2

-Various artists""Logical Progression, vol. 3

-Various artists""Jungle: Sound of the Underground

-David Bowie""Earthling

If this peeks your interest a little more and you want to find some more examples, here are some good places to go and look:

-Spin, Urb, Mixmag, and Revolution magazines

This should be enough to send anyone on a drum and bass journey, but if not, then you can always ask your local record store clerk or look in small, independent record stores. These tend to always have more of a broad range of music and most actually now have a drum and bass section.

Have fun!!!

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