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Breakbeat hardcore

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Breakbeat hardcore

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Breakbeat hardcore
Stylistic origins: Acid house, Breakbeat, Techno, Italo house, Reggae/Ragga
Cultural origins: 1990, United Kingdom
Typical instruments: Synthesizer, Drum machine, Sequencer, Keyboard, Sampler
Mainstream popularity: Large in the United Kingdom
Derivative forms: Jungle, Darkcore
Happy hardcore, 4-beat
Fusion genres
Other topics
Electronic musical instrument - Computer music

Breakbeat hardcore (popularly known as rave music, originally referred to as simply hardcore in the United Kingdom, with old school hardcore a common term in the 21st century) is a style of electronic music that primarily uses breakbeats for its rhythm lines. It was an early 1990s offshoot of the acid house scene of late 1980s Britain and was the precursor to various genres including jungle/drum and bass and UK hardcore.



Hardcore emerged as an irreverent response to the soothing, soulful direction that techno had taken in the early iterations of trance and deep house. In contrast with lushly produced house music, hardcore emphasized a cheap, harsh, aggressive sound that drew strongly from hip-hop and early acid house. It added a hip-hop influence with the addition of breakbeats and increased the tempo. A strong reggae and ragga influence emerged in 1991/92, with uplifting piano melody loops or Jamaican reggae samples used at normal speed layered on top of frenetic 150 to 170 bpm breakbeats. The music itself very much reflected the effects of the rave scene's drugs of choice, Ecstasy, LSD and amphetamines, with its bombastic beats, manic synths, sped-up vocal samples and rumbling bass-lines. Evoking the anarchist spirit of embattled underground parties, hardcore glorified quick production with minimal hardware, Made in 2 Minutes as the title of a track by Plastic Jam proclaimed. The music, although in retrospect poorly produced and amateur (part of its charm), was generally extrovert, uplifting, gritty and hypnotic.

The rave scene

Main article: Rave

The scene revolved around the M25 motorway (London's orbital motorway), and its audience was mainly urban teenagers and lower middle-class suburban teenagers with cars. The audience was very much multi-cultural, with black and white influences resulting in a unique sound. The scene expanded rapidly in 1991, with large raves of 30 to 50,000 people attending in open air venues around England, put on by Spiral Tribe and other free party soundsystems held at numerous locations up and down the length of England. This scene spawned the idea of holding huge parties rather than small clubs.

Effect and fragmentation

Between 1993 and 1994 the scene fragmented, and forked off into two distinct styles - Jungle (later known as Drum and Bass) and 4-beat (alternatively known as happy hardcore). Jungle's sound was more focused on basslines, whilst 4-beat retained the rave synths, the 4/4 kickdrum, and happier piano elements. By 1996, most 4-beat had dropped its breakbeats (in-part due to bouncy techno), whilst drum and bass had long dropped the techno style synth stabs, thus further separating the two styles.

21st century

Since the mid-2000s, several new record labels have appeared that are dedicated to the development of breakbeat hardcore, with the aim of recreating the sound and vibe of the early 1990s. Compositions stay faithful to the original sound by using a combination of old and new piano melodies, techno riffs and breaks, whilst taking advantage of technological advances in music productions of the 21st century.

Selected information


Acen, Altern-8, Automation, Brainstorm Crew, Ellis Dee, DJ Freshtrax, DJ Seduction, Genaside II, Kicksquad, Nebula 2, Luna-C, Nookie, Ray Keith, Release, Smart E, SL2, Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era, The Prodigy, Two Bad Mice, Urban Shakedown


Carl Cox, Fabio, DJ Rap, DJ Seduction, DJ SS, DJ Sy, DJ Hype, Dougal, Ellis Dee, Grooverider, Jumping Jack Frost, Micky Finn, Ratty, Slipmatt, Swan-e, Phantasy, LTJ Bukem, Top Buzz, Ratpack, Stu Allan, Krome & Time,

Record labels

786 Approved, Absolute 2, Awesome Records, Boogie Beat Records, Contagious, Full Effect Recordings, Great Asset, Kickin Records, Little Giant Music, Moving Shadow, Production House, Reinforced Records, Suburban Base, Triple Helix, Formation5, FFRR, XL Recordings


Amnesia House, Dance Planet, Dreamscape, Eclipse/Edge , Ektos, Fantazia, Helter Skelter, Interdance at Sterns Nightclub, Obsession, Pandemonium, Perception, Quest, Raindance, Technodrome, Vision, Shelleys Laserdome, Quest, Diehard,


  • The Scientist - The Exorcist (Kickin Records, KICK 001, 1990)
  • SL2 - DJ's Take Control (Awesome Records, SL002, 1991)
  • Acen - Trip To The Moon (Production House, PNT 42, 1992)
  • The Prodigy - Experience (XL Recordings, XLCD 110, 1992)


  • Simon Reynolds' Energy Flash: a Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (ISBN 0330350560)

External links

Home | Up | Breakcore | Break | Breakbeat hardcore | Brokenbeat | Drill 'n bass | Garage | Nu skool breaks | Trancestep

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

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