Stylistic origins Hip-hop, Funk, Jazz, Electro, Electronic dance
Cultural origins Late 1980s, United States and United Kingdom
Typical instruments Sampler - Sequencer - Synthesizer - Drum machine - Personal computer - Keyboard
Mainstream popularity Early-1990s; United Kingdom in rave music scene, later late-1990s; with in Big beat scene and Some mainstream success in late 1990s United Kingdom as well as United States and Australia
Derivative forms Drum and bass - 2-step garage - 4-beat
Acid breaks - Big beat - Breakcore - Broken beat - Funky breaks - Hardcore breaks - Nu skool breaks - Progressive breaks
(complete list)
Fusion genres
Breakstep - breakbeat hardcore

Breakbeat (sometimes breakbeats or breaks) is a term used to describe a collection of sub-genres of electronic music, usually characterized by the use of a non-straightened 4/4 drum pattern (as opposed to the steady beat of house). These rhythms may be characterised by their intensive use of syncopation and polyrhythms. Traditionally, a 'break' is considered to be the part of a funk or jazz song during which the melody "breaks" to let the rhythm section, or soloist, play unaccompanied. Breakbeat (or funky breakbeat or broken beat) may also refer to the music of bands who play funk and soul music with an emphasis on the elements that became popular in hip-hop and later breaks-based music. This sound is characterized by slower tempos (80-110 bpm) and organic, "human" rhythms. It is sometimes differentiated by the term "broken beat".



In the mid 1970s Kraftwerk, released several songs [1] that would later become the blueprint for breakbeats. A few of those tracks were then used later to define the genre. Fast forward to the the late 1970s and early 1980s, hip-hop turntablists, such as Kool DJ Herc, began using several breaks in a row to form the rhythmic base for hip-hop songs. Kool DJ Herc's breakbeat style was to play the same record on two turntables and play the break repeatedly by alternating between the two records. This style was copied and improved upon by early hip hop DJs Afrika Bambaataa and Grand Wizard Theodore.[2][dubious ] This style was extremely popular in clubs and dance halls because the extended breakbeat provided breakdancers with more opportunities to showcase their skills.

In the early 1990s, acid house artists and producers started using breakbeat samples in their music to create breakbeat hardcore, also known as rave music.[chronology citation needed] The hardcore scene then diverged into sub-genres like jungle and drum and bass, which generally had a darker sound and focused more on complex sampled drum patterns. An example of this is Goldie's album Timeless.

In 1992, a new style called "jungalistic hardcore"[by whom?] emerged, and for many ravers it was too funky to dance to.[dubious ] Josh Lawford of Ravescene prophesied that the breakbeat was "the death-knell of rave"[3] because the ever changing drumbeat patterns of breakbeat music didn't allow for the same zoned out, trance-like state that the standard, steady 4/4 beats of house enabled.


In recent times,[when?] the term breakbeat has become synonymous with the many genres of breaks music which have become popular within the global dance music scene, including big beat, nu skool breaks and progressive breaks. DJs from a variety of genres, including house and techno, work breaks tracks into their sets. This may occur because the tempo of breaks tracks (ranging from 110 to 150 beats per minute) means they can be readily mixed with these genres, whereas the comparatively fast speed of jungle and drum and bass (160-180 bpm) may have restricted the utility of these subgenres to DJs playing slower-tempo music. Some artists well known for breakbeat include NAPT, DJ Icey, DJ Marmik, Stanton Warriors, Beat Assassins, Pendulum, Krafty Kuts, The Freestylers, DJ Loopy & Dj G3NjUiCe, K-Swing, Soul Of Man, Deekline And Wizard, The Breakfastaz, Ctrl Z, DJ Sharaz, Freq Nasty, Annie Nightingale, Plump DJ's and avant-garde performance troupe Lucent Dossier Experience.

Breakbeats are used in many hip hop, rap, jungle, and hardcore songs, and can also be heard in other music, from popular music to background music in car and jean commercials on the radio or TV. One of the largest Breaks nights north of London is Milton Keynes lead Beatcheck, set up in 2006.[4]

Sampled breakbeats

With the advent of digital sampling and music editing on the computer, breakbeats have become much easier to create and use. Now, instead of cutting and splicing tape sections or constantly backspinning 2 records at the same time, a computer program can be used to cut, paste, and loop breakbeats endlessly. Digital effects like filters, reverb, reversing, time stretching, and pitch shifting can be added to the beat, and even to individual sounds by themselves. Individual instruments from within a breakbeat can be sampled and combined with others, thereby creating wholly new breakbeat patterns.

The Amen Break

The Amen Break, a drum break from The Winstons' song "Amen, Brother" is widely regarded as one of the most widely-used and sampled breaks among music using breakbeats.[5] This break was first used on "King of the Beats" by Mantronix, and has since been used in thousands of songs.[citation needed] Other popular breaks are from James Brown's "Funky Drummer" and "Give it Up or Turnit a Loose", The Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache", and Lyn Collins' "Think (About It)".[2]

Legal issues

With the rise in popularity of breakbeat music and the advent of digital audio samplers, enterprising companies started selling "breakbeat packages" for the express purpose of helping artists create breakbeats. A breakbeat kit CD would contain many breakbeat samples from different songs and artists, often without the artist's permission or even knowledge.[dubious ] One example of this is the Amen Break, from a song by The Winstons, who hold the copyright. However, a company named Zero G released a "jungle construction kit" containing an exact copy of the Amen break, slightly sped up, to which Zero G claims copyright. The Winstons have not received royalties for third-party use of samples of the break recorded on their original music release.[according to whom?]

Related genres

Acid Breaks

In electronic music, acid breaks is a fusion between breakbeat, acid, acid techno and other forms of electronic dance music (EDM).[example needed] Its drum line usually mimics most breakbeat music, lacking the distinctive kick drum of other forms of EDM. One of the earliest synthesizers to be employed in acid music was the Roland TB-303, which makes use of resonance cutoff filters to emphasize the harmonics of the sound. The first acid breaks track is credited to Zak Baney in 1987 for his track "Acid Break".[1]

See also


  1. ^ Two early examples are Tanzmusik from 1973s Ralf & Florian album and Radioactivity from the 1975 album of the same name.
  2. ^ a b Modulations: A History of Electronic Music, Peter Shapiro, ed. New York: Caipirnha Productions Inc., 2000, p. 152
  3. ^ Generation Ecstasy, Simon Reynolds, New York: Routledge, 1999, p. 253
  4. ^ "Nate Harrison". 
  5. ^ "10 Most Sampled Breakbeats". 

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  • Breakbeat — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El breakbeat (también denominado breakbeats o breaks) es una técnica de creación musical que se compone de un break, una porción de canción escogida por sus características rítmicas expresivas, que se combina… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Breakbeat —   [englisch, breɪkbiːt], 1992 aufgekommene Techno Variante (Techno), der ähnlich wie beim Breakdance die instrumentalen Überleitungspassagen bereits veröffentlichter (in der Regel Disco )Titel zugrunde liegen, die gesampelt (Sampling) und geloopt …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Breakbeat — Le breakbeat désigne un courant de musique électronique caractérisé par la présence de rythmes binaires très syncopés et l utilisation intense de polyrythmes (en anglais breakbeat signifie littéralement « rythme cassé »). Le breakbeat s …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Breakbeat — Ein Breakbeat ist ein Rhythmus, der in der elektronischen Musik verwendet wird. Dabei werden Ausschnitte echter Schlagzeugrhythmen (Samples), die meist aus Breaks von Funkliedern stammen, als Loop abgespielt. Oft werden dabei auch mehrere… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Breakbeat — El breakbeat es básicamente el ritmo de percusión representado en el hip hop. Sus origenes datan del rock de los 60 s y 70 s, un ejemplo es el tema Amen Brother de The Winstons y fue popularizado por James Brown en el tema “Funky Drummer”.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • breakbeat — UK [ˈbreɪkˌbiːt] / US [ˈbreɪkˌbɪt] noun [countable] Word forms breakbeat : singular breakbeat plural breakbeats music a) a short section of drum beat that is sampled (= recorded from an existing piece of music), looped (= repeated without a… …   English dictionary

  • breakbeat — {{#}}{{LM B43337}}{{〓}} {{[}}breakbeat{{]}} {{■}}(ing.){{□}} {{《}}▍ s.m.{{》}} Estilo de música electrónica con ritmos sincopados. {{★}}{{\}}PRONUNCIACIÓN:{{/}} [brekbít]. {{★}}{{\}}ORTOGRAFÍA:{{/}} Por ser un extranjerismo debe escribirse con… …   Diccionario de uso del español actual con sinónimos y antónimos

  • Breakbeat — …   Википедия

  • breakbeat — noun a form of syncopated rhythm prominent in much African music …   Wiktionary

  • Breakbeat — type of dance music evolving out of hip hop, but with more complex beat patterns …   Dictionary of Australian slang

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