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What's That Sound? A Comprehensive Beginners Guide to Genres and Sub-Genres

Editorial

The Comprehensive Beginners Guide to EDM Genres and Sub-Genres

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Dubstep

Sub-genres: Trap, Glitch-Hop

Notable Artists: Truth & Rusko (Dubstep); RL Grime & Baauer (Trap); Bassnectar & Bleep Bloop (Glitch-Hop); Bonobo & RJD2 (Trip-Hop)

BPM & Style Distinctions: 70 – 140 BPM; relies heavily on sub-bass; slower (sometimes); darker; “wubbly”; atmospheric sounds; dissonant harmonies; aggressive scattered rhythms

This genre is categorized by consistent, thumping bass. It’s meant to envelop listeners with overwhelming sub-bass. Dubstep evolved from UK Garage and 90s DnB, also drawing on elements of hip-hop and metal. Americanized dubstep (given the slang name “Brostep”) relies more on mid-range sounds, “robotic fluctuations,” and distorted bass riffs. In comparison, UK dubstep focuses more on sub-bass. The BPM can range depending on artistic style. This music is often something that could “break your neck” and give a dose of “bass to the face.”

Trap originated in the southern U.S. As the name insinuates, this sub-genre draws on rap and hip-hop.  It focuses on heavy bass and hard attitude similarly to dubstep. Trap is also characterized by 808 drums, snappy snares, loud kicks, brass, triangles, and trihats. Original pioneers in trap include rappers Waka Flocka Flame, Gucci Mayne, and Manny Fresh. The genre evolved to center more around electronic sounds by artists like RL Grime and Flosstradammus.

Glitch-hop sits at about 80 – 115 BPM. This sub-genre has a midtempo breakbeat, without the kicks that you see in trap. Its roots begin in 90s hip-hop and glitch music. Earlier glitch-hop was once based on glitchy sounds, heavily distorted and twisted hip-hop beats. Modern glitch-hop strays away from its hip-hop roots. It incorporates elements of dubstep and DnB, making it more aggressive than its earlier counterparts. The sub-genre can also include influences from other genres, such as jazz and future synth.

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Lastly, Trip-hop started in 90s England, with groups like Portishead and Massive Attack pioneering the sub-genre. While trip-hop is not a sub-genre, due to it’s stylistic similarities to dubstep and some of the other sub-genres it’s being grouped into the category. It incorporates elements of hip-hop, dubstep, and DnB, but is lyrical in contrast to rapping. Trip-hop is often moody and dark, relying on jazz samples and influences as well. It also has an aura of ambiance to match the downtempo beat.

Intro, House, Techno, Trance, Bass, Hard Dance

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