Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in South London, England. It emerged in the late 1990s as a development within a lineage of related styles such as 2-step garage, broken beat, drum and bass, jungle, dub and reggae. In the UK, the origins of the genre can be traced back to the growth of the Jamaican sound system party scene in the early 1980s The music generally features syncopated drum and percussion patterns with bass lines that contain prominent sub bass frequencies, as well as shuffled or incorporating tuplets. The tempo is nearly always in the range of 140–150 beats per minute (however, there can be exceptions, such as Forever by Reach [130 bpm] , The Vale by Trivecta featuring Miyoki, in the last drop [100 bpm] ), with a clap or snare usually inserted every third beat in a bar, providing the characteristic half-time "feel", essentially halving the tempo of the drums only, inducing the sentiment that the songs are slower than they actually are.
One characteristic of certain strands of dubstep is the wobble bass, often referred to as the "wub", where an extended bass note is manipulated rhythmically. This style of bass is typically produced by using a low-frequency oscillator to manipulate certain parameters of a synthesiser such as volume, distortion or filter cutoff. The resulting sound is a timbre that is punctuated by rhythmic variations in volume, filter cutoff, or distortion. This style of bass is a driving factor in some variations of dubstep, particularly at the more club-friendly end of the spectrum.
Dubstep is associated with a purple/violet color on Monstercat. It is important to note that for labeling purposes, Monstercat also includes the following subgenres under the 'Dubstep' umbrella:
Commonly Referenced Subgenres:
- 2-Step: Features a 4/4 beat with 2-Step beat-skipping kick drums.
- Brostep: A subgenre of Dubstep commonly associated with “plain noise", using no real melody, screeches, growls, and "wubs" are commonly used in this subgenre. Short, hard kicks and a booming, heavy snare are used as well as heavy use of sub-bass, with a consistent bassline.
- Chillstep: (Not to be confused with Liquid Dubstep & Melodic Dubstep) A subgenre that uses very minimal sound design in its main lead and generally the whole song. It has become less popular in recent years, due to the Brostep and Riddim revolution. This subgenre is commonly identified by heavy basswork and a minimal snare sound with more melodic leads and synths.
- Deathstep: Usually begin with ominous-sounding guitar riffs, with lots of choir. The drums usually consist of a very solid and hard kick, and a very heavy ‘pan’ snare with a lot of riff. The basses are, contrary to popular belief, very different from the ‘normal’ dubstep basses. As opposed to the generic reese ‘wobbles’, Deathstep has machine gun basses, usually in triplets, along with more heavily distorted growls and screeches.
- Freeform Bass: a newly-formed microgenre of Dubstep and is usually experimental.
- Liquid Dubstep: (Not to be confused with Chillstep & Melodic Dubstep): Liquid Dubstep is a subgenre of Dubstep that uses a typical heavy dubstep snare and kick drum, but none of the screeches or growls associated with heavy Brostep or plain old Dubstep. Heavy bass and syncopated hat patterns are commonly used as well, usually synths are absent in this genre making the leads virtually nonexistent besides some commonly used plucks and bass noises.
- Melodic Dubstep: (Not to be confused with Chillstep & Liquid Dubstep): Melodic Dubstep is a very common subgenre of Dubstep, using euphoric lead sounds, a slappy snare, and a very hard kick. Use of excessive white noise is also used in this style, making for a more atmospheric song. Secondary percussion is usually very minimal in this style of Dubstep as well, rather than the heavy shakers commonly used in Dubstep. The lead sound can variate in how it sounds, but is usually something similar to a synth to create a melody in the song often using supersaws as a stuttery lead. The off drop is focused on as well, trying to sound inviting and uplifting in the song itself.
- Metalstep: As the name implies, this genre is a combination of Metal and Dubstep. This genre usually has a typical Metal song with Dubstep features in it.
- Neurostep: Neurostep is a self-explaining genre of Dubstep, using a buzzy neuro bass as its main source of a lead sound, short kicks, usually a very fast Drum and Bass esque hat pattern, and a heavy sub-bass pattern of low frequency to high frequency dependent on the pitch of the neuro bass used. The snare is carefully selected as well, needing to be a heavy snare focused on a punch of high sound.
- Riddim: A subgenre that became popular in late 2016, Dubstep’s Raggaeton essentially, characterized by the swing in the bassline, the triplet drum pattern, and the claps or slap snares layered to the kick on beat 3. It generally uses more wet wubs and and screeches as the leads, with heavy use of Trap styled hat patterns, generally between 140-150 bpm.
- Tearout: A genre that was extremely popular during the liquid dubstep/chillstep era between 2009-2013, as it was regular dubstep’s heavier response to chillstep, with violent screeches and growls that were almost designed to make the listener uncomfortable, however with the empty and simple percussion and synths liquid dubstep and chillstep were known for at the time.
- Vomitstep: featuring guttural bass gurgles, crushing 808s and synthesizers.