5 Ways Drum and Bass Revolutionized Modern Music: Exploring the Pulse of a Genre
5 Ways Drum and Bass Revolutionized Modern Music: Exploring the Pulse of a Genre

5 Ways Drum and Bass Revolutionized Modern Music: Exploring the Pulse of a Genre

Unravel the beats and rhythms of Drum and Bass, a genre that shook the foundations of modern music.

Introduction: The Heartbeat of Drum and Bass

Drum and Bass: a heartbeat, a pulse, an unstoppable force in the world of music. Born from the underground electronic scene, it emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the United Kingdom. With its frenetic beats, intricate rhythms, and deep basslines, Drum and Bass has captivated audiences worldwide. Let’s embark on a journey to explore its definition, delve into its rich history and development, unravel the works of essential artists, and discover some of the genre’s most influential tracks. Along the way, we’ll also uncover its connections to related genres, forming a tapestry of sound that continues to shape the musical landscape.

Definition: The Beat Goes On

Drum and Bass, often abbreviated as DnB, is a genre of electronic music characterized by fast breakbeats, syncopated rhythms, and heavy basslines. At its core, Drum and Bass is defined by its tempo, typically ranging from 160 to 180 beats per minute (BPM), though it can vary widely within this range. The genre’s distinctive sound is achieved through the use of sampled drum breaks, synthesized basslines, and intricate percussion patterns, creating a high-energy atmosphere that is both relentless and infectious.

History and Development: From Jungle Roots to Global Phenomenon

The roots of Drum and Bass can be traced back to the early days of jungle music, a genre that emerged from the urban landscapes of London in the late 1980s. Jungle music was characterized by its use of breakbeats, dub reggae influences, and a strong emphasis on rhythm and bass. As the genre evolved, producers began experimenting with faster tempos, incorporating elements of techno, hip-hop, and dancehall to create a sound that was uniquely their own.

In the early 1990s, as jungle music continued to gain popularity, a new subgenre began to emerge: Drum and Bass. This new sound retained many of the elements of jungle music but placed a greater emphasis on the drum patterns and basslines, resulting in a faster, more intense style of music. Producers such as LTJ Bukem, Goldie, and Roni Size played a pivotal role in shaping the early sound of Drum and Bass, pushing the boundaries of what was possible with electronic music.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Drum and Bass continued to evolve and diversify, with artists exploring new sonic territories and pushing the genre in bold new directions. Subgenres such as liquid funk, neurofunk, and jump-up emerged, each bringing its own unique twist to the Drum and Bass sound. Today, Drum and Bass remains as vibrant and innovative as ever, with artists from around the world continuing to push the boundaries of electronic music.

What is a Breakbeat?

A breakbeat is a foundational element in electronic music, characterized by its rhythmic pattern derived from sampled drum breaks. It typically consists of a series of drum hits, often originating from funk, soul, or rock recordings, which are looped and rearranged to create a new rhythmic groove.

Breakbeats are known for their syncopated rhythms and emphasis on the off-beat, giving them a distinctive and energetic feel. This rhythmic pattern forms the backbone of many electronic music genres, including hip-hop, drum and bass, and breakbeat itself. Breakbeats are often manipulated and layered with other sounds and samples to create complex and dynamic tracks, making them a versatile tool for producers to express their creativity and shape the overall feel of a song.

Essential Artists: Pioneers of the Sound

No exploration of Drum and Bass would be complete without paying homage to the artists who helped shape the genre. From the early pioneers to the modern innovators, these artists have left an indelible mark on the world of music.

  1. LTJ Bukem: Known for his smooth, atmospheric tracks, LTJ Bukem is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of Drum and Bass. His seminal works, such as “Horizons” and “Atlantis,” helped define the genre in its early years and continue to inspire artists to this day.
  2. Goldie: A true icon of the Drum and Bass scene, Goldie’s contributions to the genre are immeasurable. His groundbreaking album “Timeless” remains a classic of the genre, blending elements of jungle, techno, and ambient music into a mesmerizing sonic journey.
  3. Roni Size: As the founder of the influential record label Full Cycle Records, Roni Size played a key role in popularizing Drum and Bass in the mainstream. His album “New Forms,” released in 1997, won the prestigious Mercury Prize and helped bring Drum and Bass to a wider audience.
  4. Andy C: Renowned for his technical prowess and high-energy DJ sets, Andy C is one of the most respected figures in the world of Drum and Bass. As the co-founder of RAM Records, he has released a string of classic tracks and helped launch the careers of numerous artists.
  5. Noisia: Hailing from the Netherlands, Noisia is known for their cutting-edge production techniques and innovative sound design. Their tracks, such as “Stigma” and “Split the Atom,” have become staples of the Drum and Bass scene and have earned them a legion of dedicated fans around the world.

Essential Tracks: Beats That Defined a Generation

From underground anthems to festival bangers, Drum and Bass has produced a wealth of timeless tracks that have become synonymous with the genre. Here are just a few essential tracks that have helped shape the sound of Drum and Bass:

  1. LTJ Bukem – “Horizons”: A masterpiece of atmospheric Drum and Bass, “Horizons” is a hauntingly beautiful track that showcases LTJ Bukem’s signature style.
  2. Goldie – “Inner City Life”: With its soulful vocals and intricate drum patterns, “Inner City Life” is a classic of the genre that has stood the test of time.
  3. Roni Size / Reprazent – “Brown Paper Bag”: A true anthem of the Drum and Bass scene, “Brown Paper Bag” is a high-energy track that never fails to get the crowd moving.
  4. Andy C & Shimon – “Body Rock”: Featuring a relentless bassline and adrenaline-fueled energy, “Body Rock” is a certified dancefloor destroyer.
  5. Noisia – “Diplodocus”: Dark, menacing, and utterly relentless, “Diplodocus” is a prime example of Noisia’s unparalleled production skills.

Related Genres: Exploring the Musical Landscape

While Drum and Bass stands tall as a genre in its own right, it is also deeply interconnected with a number of related genres, each bringing its own unique flavor to the musical landscape.

  1. Dubstep: Originating from the underground electronic scene in the UK, dubstep is characterized by its heavy basslines, sparse rhythms, and syncopated beats. Artists such as Skream, Benga, and Burial have helped popularize the genre, pushing it into the mainstream.
  2. Jungle: The precursor to Drum and Bass, jungle music emerged from the urban landscapes of London in the early 1990s. Known for its frenetic breakbeats and dub reggae influences, jungle laid the groundwork for the emergence of Drum and Bass as a distinct genre.
  3. Breakbeat: A broad genre encompassing a wide range of styles, breakbeat is characterized by its use of broken, syncopated rhythms and sampled drum breaks. From hip-hop to electronic dance music, breakbeat has had a profound influence on a diverse array of musical genres.
  4. Neurofunk: A subgenre of Drum and Bass characterized by its dark, aggressive sound, neurofunk pushes the boundaries of electronic music with its complex rhythms, distorted basslines, and futuristic atmosphere. Artists such as Ed Rush & Optical, Noisia, and Black Sun Empire are renowned for their contributions to the genre, crafting tracks that are both technically impressive and emotionally evocative.
  5. Liquid Funk: On the opposite end of the spectrum from neurofunk, liquid funk is characterized by its smooth, melodic sound and soulful atmospheres. Artists such as Calibre, High Contrast, and Logistics are known for their lush production styles, blending elements of jazz, soul, and funk to create music that is both uplifting and emotionally resonant.

Drum and Bass

Drum and Bass has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the underground rave scene of the early 1990s. From its roots in jungle music to its current status as a global phenomenon, the genre has continued to evolve and innovate, pushing the boundaries of what is possible with electronic music. With its fast-paced beats, intricate rhythms, and deep basslines, Drum and Bass remains a driving force in the world of music, inspiring artists and audiences alike to dance to the rhythm of a genre that shows no signs of slowing down. So, next time you find yourself lost in the music, let the beats of Drum and Bass carry you away on a journey through sound and rhythm, and experience the pulse of a genre that has revolutionized modern music.


  • For further exploration of Drum and Bass, check out resources such as Resident Advisor, Mixmag, and Fact Magazine.
  • To dive deeper into the history and evolution of Drum and Bass, consider exploring books such as “All Crews: Journeys Through Jungle / Drum & Bass Culture” by Brian Belle-Fortune and “State of Bass: Jungle – The Story So Far” by Martin James.
  • For a more immersive experience, attend Drum and Bass events, festivals, and club nights, where you can witness firsthand the energy and excitement of the genre in its natural habitat.