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4-beat (AKA happy hardcore)
Stylistic origins: Breakbeat hardcore, Italo house
Cultural origins: 1993, England
Typical instruments: Synthesizer Drum machine Sequencer Keyboard Sampler
Mainstream popularity: Small
Derivative forms: Happy hardcore (1995),
UK Hardcore (1999)
Fusion genres
Bouncy techno (1995-96)
Other topics
Electronic musical instrument Computer music

4-beat (also known as hardcore or happy hardcore) is a breakbeat style of music circa 1993, that evolved from breakbeat hardcore emanating from the United Kingdom rave scene. Due to the sheer scale of the United Kingdom rave scene, this particular music was largelly self contained in England where it was almost entirely produced and played.

Breakbeat hardcore was originally referred to a simply hardcore by ravers in England. As such, this evolved style was also alternatively known as hardcore or happy hardcore the latter meaning a happier variant of this aforementioned breakbeat styled hardcore, thus happy hardcore (i.e. happy breakbeat). Darkcore was the short lived counter movement to happy that occurred at the same time.

The name happy hardcore should not be confused with other things that are also referred to as happy hardcore, as that term is much shared (and overused) across the world to describe different sounding things that have their own development.

Also in this article, 4-beat is not a musical term commonly used to describe a drum beat time signature found in most types of modern music, but is rather a specific name used to describe a breakbeat music style.



United Dance - 4-beat At Its Best (4-Beat Records, FBR CD221) Commercial CD release, 1995 United Dance - 4-beat At Its Best (4-Beat Records, FBR CD221) Commercial CD release, 1995

For an alias, individual nicknames of DJs rather than recording under a band name would be common. These same artists would be widely found DJing on the English rave circuit. These individual artists would also collaborate with other individuals under joint releases with & or versus designations.

Much like its hardcore predecessor, there was a number of uncredited white labels released, created by unknown producers.

Typical characteristics for 4-beat are for compositions to be around a tempo of 150 to 170 BPM (beats per minute). At the core of these compositions would be a fast looped, sometimes complex rolling sampled breakbeat, along with a combined bass drum every four beats to the bar - hence the name of 4-beat.

These rolling chopped breakbeats were not too dissimilar to those found in jungle music. A deep sub bassline could also be found to work with the breakbeats, though not as prominent as found in jungle. Both 4-beat and jungle styles would be common under one roof at raves during the early-to-mid-1990s.

Tracks would have a somewhat basic keyed happy sounding chord before bursting into an Italo house inspired catchy piano melody. This would be the hook of the record, where rave crowds would respond by making noise by blowing whistles or air horns. This could be accompanied by weeping and uplifting strings.

If any vocals were used, they would certainly be female and likely be just short several second parts sampled from other records. In most cases these would not be performed by a vocalist paid to perform many lyrics.

High pitched samples due to the fast tempo of tracks could be found in this music but not in every release. It's deemed more of a stereotype associated to this style.

Due to other influences - largelly to the bouncy techno style - its inherent breakbeats and sub basslines would later become surplus to requirements by 1996.



A Recognised Form of 4-beatLogo as designated on vinyl artwork A Recognised Form of 4-beat
Logo as designated on vinyl artwork


Whilst ambiguous as a term, 4-beat only indicated that this style - unlike jungle music and its earlier breakbeat hardcore predecessor - used a common if somewhat insignificant four beats to the bar bass drum complementing the obligatory breakbeats. 4-beat does not mean it was void of breakbeats - a common error assumed by most.

Artists at the forefront of this style refused to call the style as happy hardcore, rather they used the 4-beat term. DJ Seduction - a leading English producer since 1991 - said that, "House led to hardcore, which led to Drum N Bass and 4-beat (I hate calling it Happy Hardcore)" in a 1995 interview. [1]

Several record labels including Impact, Techstep Records (London) and United Dance Recordings, displayed the 4-beat logo on their artwork alongside the "recognised form of 4-beat" slogan. This logo may also have been used on records to easily distinguish this and jungle music in record shops.

Happy hardcore

In England, hardcore was the terminology used to describe their breakbeat driven rave music style of the early 1990s, with happy being used to distinguish the happier variant of this breakbeat hardcore music, thus happy hardcore (i.e. happy breakbeat). This term was however less favoured by producers creating this music who instead used 4-beat or even just plain hardcore. Darkcore was the short lived counter movement to happy that occurred at the same time.

DJ Sy - another artist at the forefront of this movement - said, ""happy" hardcore (what a f***ing stupid name - always makes me think of "nappy" hardcore) of '94 onwards..." [2]

Even though this likely is the first ever case of happy hardcore being used to describe any style of music, the term happy hardcore has been much overused across the world in the 21st century to describe many different sounding things that in all likelihood have nothing to do with the original definition as described in this article.

These two terms have all more or less since become deprecated to describe this music due to the style and its large rave scene following being no more. Oldskool hardcore has since become a favoured term in the 21st century to describe this style, though both the original terms are still used by purists.

Selected 4-beat information


Brisk, DJ Fade, DJ Pooch, DJ Seduction, DJ Sy, Dougal, Eruption, Happy Tunes, Question Mark, Ramos, Supreme & Sunset Regime, Slipmatt, Vibes, Wishdokta


DJ Seduction, DJ Sy, Dougal, Mixmatt, Ramos, Slipmatt, Vibes, Vinylgroover


Amnesia House, Dreamscape, ESP, Helter Skelter, Hysteria

Record labels

Impact, Just Another Label, Knitebreed, Kniteforce, Man From Uncle Records, Pure Dance Recordings, Techstep Records (London), Question Mark, Quosh, United Dance Recordings, Universal Records


SMD - #1 (SMD, SD01, 1993)
Dougal & Vibes - Feel Free (Dougal & Vibes, DAV1, 1994)
Seduction & Dougal - It's Not Over (Impact, IMP 028, 1994)

See also

External links

Acid - Detroit - 4-beat - Gabber - Ghettotech - Hardcore - Happy hardcore - Minimal - Nortec - Rave - Schranz - Tech house
Other electronic music genres
Ambient | Breakbeat | Drum and bass | Electronica | Electronic art music | Hard dance | House | Techno | Trance | Industrial | Synthpop

Home | Up | Happy hardcore | Hardcore techno | 4-beat | Acid techno | Breakbeat hardcore | Detroit techno | Digital hardcore | Freetekno | Ghettotech | Minimal techno | Nortec | Rave music | Schranz | Terrorcore | Wonky techno

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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