A Look at Drum and Bass

Drum and Bass (often Drum ‘n’ bass or just DnB) is a genre of music that hit the height of its popularity in the 1990’s. Today other genres that have been adapted from this style have stepped in to become the more prominent sound, namely dubstep. Drum and Bass however was significantly different back in its prime as it grew out of the rave culture and became its own animal.

Though to many from the outset it may sound like just two instruments, drum and bass can be increasingly complex. From layering high tempo drums over one another to inserting mad rhythmic bass lines, there is no doubt that this style comes with a high energy feel. The drums used here are typically breakbeats which are often sampled pitched and sometimes filtered. Though this may make for a repetitive structure for those who love drums, it further proves that the drum is the driving force behind the momentum of music. On the other hand the bass here is what really defines one artist from another, using electronic bass pulses to live bass sounds there is a real variety used in drum and bass for the pounding semi-melodic sounds that sync perfectly with the drum patterns. What makes the bass so different here is the common use of sub-bass which are sounds played so low that they are often barely audible. In fact, many say that the best songs have bass ‘you can feel’ but not hear.

This brings an entirely new element to the music of drum and bass, a 3rd dimension if you will that allows you to experience music on a level you may not have before. In order to get the most out of this however you will need a Soundsystem capable of playing this low level of bass, many consumer audio devices don’t have this ability, which means hearing drum and bass at a live venue is often essential to get the best out of the genre. This matches up with why the movement started and continues to be popular in clubs as crowds gather to enjoy the best quality versions of their favourite tracks. Live Drum and bass can vary though. Depending on the artist you may be in for a night with a DJ behind the decks, spinning and mixing tracks while filtering out the high end sound for bone shaking bass only. There are also fully live bands that can take to stage for authentically live drum and bass such as Roni Size and Reprazent and Pendulum. Whichever style of band you see live, the speakers at a venue will be far more capable of delivering quality drum and bass to your ears than your headphones or home stereo. Today Drum and Bass is still going, though it is nowhere near as prominent as it was 30 years ago. With big names like Goldie delivering old school sounds, Squarepusher creating odd electronic spins on the genre and more contemporary artists like Actress bringing in a more minimal sound, it isn’t staying static. It makes sense that a match made in heaven like rapid drums and low bass will continue for generations to come.