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, Breakbeat, 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] , "Dream In Color", by HALIENE [132 BPM], "PLAY" by Tokyo Machine [128 BPM - in a transition], "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 filter modulated 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:
- Brostep: a subgenre of Dubstep pioneered / brought to popularity by the likes of Skrillex, Zomboy, Getter, Kill The Noise and Eptic; it features intricate, modulated basslines consisting of interlaced bass chains produced with characteristic, diverse, gritty, heavily processed (multiband compression being the order of the day - granting a widely known compressor of this type - "OTT" - (Over-the-top - originating from an Ableton Live compressor preset, turned into a standalone third party plugin by Xfer Records) - "meme" status) "growl"-styled synths, possessing formant quality (a vocal-styled timbre - hence the nickname "growl") , created with active filtering motion; this subgenre took off in the American scene and is still popular to this day; Heavy emphasis is placed on a deep sub bass; Heavy, sharp transient / attack, halftime (one snare per bar) drums establish a steady rhythm; the drum pattern can deviate from the standard "Kick on beat one, snare on beat 3" and can feature varying amounts of syncopation; the snares are usually designed with relatively long white noise / reverb tails, and sidechain ducking is an important factor in maintaining space for the drums and as a stylistical effect, to reinforce the aggression-factor of the subgenre; it transitioned from a 140-bpm dominant period into a 150 bpm one, speeding up in the process; simple triad supersaw chords can be used as fills, while off beat chants, accompanied by off beat chords (mainly supersaws, organs or guitars) could often be heard; the subgenre has also been heavily influenced by dub reggae at its beginnings, borrowing "ragga"-styled vocals; acoustic instruments can be heard, such as the guitar, piano and violin; another influence the subgenre took from is video game music / chiptune; iconic elements such the Reso bass, formant basses and high pitched, screechy Crookers / Pressure Cooker FM-styled synths were often heard; ample drop atmospheres are created with crowd chanting noises and background arps, designed to fill space. "Pre-drop" instigating vocal shouts are common.
- Zomboy - "Like A Bitch"
- Skrillex & Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley - "Make It Bun Dem"
- Skrillex - "Ruffneck Bass"
- Virtual Riot - "Preset Junkies"
- Chime - "Experience Points"
- Barely Alive - "CA$H"
- Slippy - "Metaphysical"
- Slippy - "Haunted" (Original Mix)
- Carnival (Dubstep): a relatively small (in terms of popularity and frequency of production) micro variation of Dubstep which features a steady, full-time four-on-the-floor kick pattern, like in House music, at Dubstep tempo. This style mostly gets applied to Brostep, and is often accompanied by the subgenre, in the same track.
- Pegboard Nerds - "Purple People Eater"
- Grabbitz - "Turn Around" (2:43 - 2:54)
- Dirty Audio & Slippy - "Quake" (3:00 - 3:10)
- Deathstep: the main characteristic of this genre are its very dark, ominous, evil, impending doom atmospheres which are established through very heavy distortion / saturation and significant amounts of compression; this goal is also accomplished through the use of ample choral sections, off beat minor choral chords, wide, dark orchestral sections accompanied by frightful vocal samples; a renowned feature of this genre are triplet, heavily percussive basslines that are usually not as intricate or diverse as in Brostep, supported by dissonant melodies; very heavy drums are sometimes layered to confer them a metallic / odd harmonic resonance; heavily processed growl fills are used, together with dark background elements; this subgenre is produced exclusively with a minor key in mind.
- D-Jahsta & Code: Pandorum - "Blasphemy"
- Evilwave - "Wakanda"
- Evilwave & Antima - "Tinnitus"
- Code: Pandorum - "Cthulhu" (God Complex VIP)
- Liquid Dubstep: the polar opposite of brostep, a lot more relaxed, calming, in its atmosphere, features liberal use of reverb and reverb fills; the subgenre takes a more minimalistic approach to its structures and places heavy emphasis on a deep sub bass layer, supported by wide, ethereal plucks and ample pads. This subgenre is envisioned as very atmospheric. Cinematic pulsing rhythms can be supported by orchestral, choral, vocal and acoustic layers to create a vast, euphoric soundscape. Filtered reese-styled basses can also be, occasionally, heard.
- Rameses B & Laura Brehm - Transformations
- Mr FijiWiji & Openwater - "Growing Up"
- Xilent - "To Dust"
- Virtual Riot - "Minimalist" (except for the Glitch Hop transitional sections)
- Rezonate & Bijou - "Lonely"
- Early Dubstep / "UK" Dubstep / Deep Dubstep: as a descendant of 2-Step Garage and Dub Reggae, this genre features less of an emphasis on abrasiveness and aggressiveness than the Brostep of today, instead focusing on very deep atmospheres. This subgenre can feature more off-kilter, syncopated rhythms. Intricate, varied bass chains are not the focus of this subgenre.
- Direct - "Parallax"
- Skream - "Rutten"
- Benga & Coki - "Night"
- Benga - "I Will Never Change"
- Melodic Dubstep: as the name would imply, the subgenre heavily places emphasis and relies on melodic structures, such as wide layered chords, to create ample, euphoric atmospheres, "Sync" (from the "Sync" warp mode in Xfer Serum - gradually increasing in pitch then descending, through the use of an LFO) or otherwise styled leads, which can be the driving force of a Melodic Dubstep track and vocal chops, which can be commonly heard; the subgenre can borrow sound design from Brostep. Tracks in this genre can evoke many emotions, featuring a wide variety of styles, such as dramatic and uplifting.
- Virtual Riot - "Throwback"
- Astronaut - "Quantum" (Virtual Riot Remix)
- Virtual Riot & Danyka Nadeau - "Time Stops"
- Trivecta, AMIDY & RØRY - "Riptide"
- Jason Ross & Melanie Fontana - "Shelter"
- Seven Lions & Crystal Skies - "Soujourn" (First drop)
- Seven Lions & Kerli - "Worlds Apart"
- Seven Lions, Wooli & Trivecta feat. Nevve - "The Island" (Au5 Remix)
- Seven Lions - "Without You My Love" (Trivecta Remix) (except for the Future Bass segments)
- Seven Lions & Jason Ross feat. Paul Meany - "Higher Love" (second drop)
- Seven Lions & Illenium & Said The Sky & HALIENE - "Rush Over Me"
- Metalstep: As the name implies, this genre is a fusion of Metal and the varying styles of Dubstep (such as Brostep and Riddim).
- Sullivan King - "Don't Care"
- Dirtyphonics & Sullivan King - "Hammer"
- Sullivan King - "I'll Fight Back"
- Dirtyphonics & Sullivan King - "Navigator"
- Neurostep: originated from the fusion of Neurofunk Drum and Bass and Dubstep; crunchy, distorted reeses (derived directly from Neurofunk), intensely filtered, "sine compression" basses are often employed; the atmospheres are often cold, robust, mechanical and dark in a different sense from Deathstep, featuring science-fiction influenced soundscapes and very deep sound design; cymbal patterns, which can be hectic, accompany the heavy drums which are occasionally very syncopated; every element closely interacts with each other, reverb and delay are used in a psychedelic manner and granular synthesis can play an important role in this subgenre. What can set Neurostep apart from Halftime could possibly be the amount of syncopation and swing in the drum region, Halftime being more influenced by Hip Hop.
- Xilent - "Particles" (first drop)
- Frequent - "The Search"
- Evoke & Bijou - "Bittersweet" (Frequent Remix)
- Rawtekk - "Here's To Them" (debatable - blurs genre lines)
- Rawtekk & Audeka - "Solar Grace"
- Audeka - "Oracle"
- Frequent & Clockvice - "Memory Den"
- Clockvice - "Disgrace"
- Clockvice - "Hideous"
- Riddim: a more minimalistic subgenre founded on simple, repetitive, two-sided "seesaw" / "swing" rhythms (although the patterns can become more varied) formed from usually wide, sometimes percussive, detuned, metallic-styled basses, designed with the use of "reverb" filters, phasers / phaser filters, flanger filters and comb filters; in the drum pattern region, it's very common for the snares on beat 3 to be replaced with a kick layered with a clap; with time, modern riddim has developed to intake influences from brostep, blurring the lines between the previously named genres and the fusion; the drum patterns are usually straight and feature little syncopation; it can feature a wide use of reverb, triplet bass patterns and off beat chants. The Riddim-Brostep hybrid has been nicknamed "Briddim" in the scene (coined by Wooli).
- Virtual Riot - "Dragons"
- Virtual Riot - "Purple Dragons" (Dragons VIP)
- Virtual Riot - "One Two" (more experimental)
- Subfiltronik - "Level Up" ("classic" Riddim)
- TroyBoi & Skrillex - "WARLORDZ"
- Subfiltronik - "Take That" ("classic" Riddim)
- Wooli & Kompany - "Thicc Boi" (hybrid between Brostep and Riddim nicknamed "Briddim")
- Wooli & Mastadon & Travis Richter - "Elephant March" (hybrid between Brostep and Riddim nicknamed "Briddim")
- PhaseOne & YOOKiE - "State Of Emergency"
- Oolacile - "Defense System"
- Oolacile - "Weapon System" (more "conventional" Riddim)
- INFEKT - "Score"
- Delta Heavy & Dirty Audio & HOLLY - "Stay" (PhaseOne Remix) (hybrid between Brostep and Riddim nicknamed "Briddim", with melodic segments)
- Tearout: a dark, early, more bare / rudimentary, less intricate subgenre of dubstep; its main features are more simplistic / minimalistic, very distorted basses (similar to industrial) created from basic waveforms (such as the sawtooth, triangle, square or sine wave) through processes such as FM (Frequency Modulation) synthesis; it is structured similarly to brostep within its rhythm sections and bass chains. The subgenre can be very violent / aggressive, placing high emphasis on rather harsh distortion used a stylistic effect, aiming to push "traditional" norms / boundaries.