One of the fastest growing types of music in the world, dubstep is a new form of electronic music that combines heavy bass with samples, synthesizer, keyboard, turntables and hard-hitting drum tracks. Dubstep originated in South London, but has quickly spread to other areas of Western Europe and North America after initially getting some publicity on BBC Radio… and is fast-becoming a mainstream form of dance music around the world.
According to AllMusic, dubstep is described as:
“tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals.”
More accurately, dubstep is simply dub music set to a two-step beat. The usage of samples laid over low-frequency (and typically oscillating) basslines is really what defines this type of music. While historically, dubstep has been described as dark & deep… there are now many forms of dubstep that have elements of trance music, electronica, hip-hop and even pop. Pretty much every track on the Billboard 100 has been remixed by independent artists as “dubstep.” This is pretty easy to imagine when you consider that dubstep is sample-driven music, typically ripped apart and mixed with copious amounts of bass that is sure to blow out your speakers.
All About Wobble Bass
The most common characteristic of dubstep is what is referred to as “wobble bass.” Wobble bass is a new creation of electronic music where bass notes are extended and manipulated digitally with a low-frequency oscillator and other filters. This type of bass drives the music and is a big reason that the music is so club-friendly (“bro-step” is now a known sub-class of dubstep that adds a bit more of the typical techno-club element to dubstep). When you hear someone remark about that “wub wub wub” sound that has made dubstep famous, they are referring to the wobble bass that is on a majority of dubstep tracks.
Listen to a sample of some dirty Wobble Bass:
Other Characteristics of Dubstep
Naturally, dubstep is a lot more than just wobble bass… although that has certainly grown to be the identifying characteristic. One of the most notable characteristics is the structure of the songs. As in classic UK garage music, dubstep historically has been comprised of a few sections: 1) the intro; 2) the bass drop; 3) the main riff (or mid-section); 4) outro. The second section… the bass drop… is what made dubstep just so popular in the first place, and it is when wobble bass is most prevalent.
Typically in a bass drop, the percussion will freeze or the existing intro track will start to fade into the background. After a brief pause, all hell breaks loose and overwhelming bass invades the track that is essentially carried throughout the rest of the tune.
Another technique used by dubstep DJs is the “rewind.” Also known as the “reload,” it is a simple turntable technique where the DJ will spin back the record without lifting the stylus… which will create a scratch and will play back the previous clip. This is especially effective in live entertainment.
Some of the most popular current dubstep DJs include:
- Digital Mystikz
There are a lot of different elements that go into dubstep, with more being created all the time. We also have a piece on the history of dubstep here at uDubstep that you should definitely check out for more information about the evolution of this form of music. Be sure to check out our Top Fifty or Top Hundred track listings to get a feel for this music!
-JRWhat is Dubstep?,