Drum and bass (also written as “drum ‘n’ bass” or “drum & bass”), is a genre and branch of electronic music which emerged from rave and jungle scenes in Britain during the early 1990s.

The style is often characterized by fast breakbeats (typically 160–180 beats per minute) with heavy bass and sub-bass lines, sampled sources, and synthesizers.

The popularity of drum and bass at its commercial peak ran parallel to several other homegrown dance styles in the UK including big beat and hard house.

Drum and bass incorporate a number of scenes and styles.

A major influence on jungle and drum and bass was the original Jamaican dub and reggae sound. Another feature of the style is the complex syncopation of the drum tracks’ breakbeat.

Drum and bass subgenres include breakcore, ragga jungle, hardstep, Darkstep, techstep, Neurofunk, ambient drum and bass, liquid funk, jump up, deep, Drumfunk, funkstep, sambass, dnbnoise, and drill ‘n’ bass.

From its roots in the UK, the style has established itself around the world. Drum and bass has influenced many other genres like hip hop, big beat, dubstep, house, trip-hop, ambient music, techno, jazz, rock, and pop.

It is dominated by a relatively small group of record labels. The major international music labels had shown very little interest in the drum and bass scene, until BMG Rights Management acquired RAM in February 2016.

Drum and bass remain most popular in the UK although it has developed scenes all around the world, in countries such as the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, Greece, Canada, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Australia.


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a growing nightclub and overnight outdoor event culture gave birth to a new electronic music style in the rave scene, which combined sampled syncopated beats or breakbeats, and other samples from a wide range of different musical genres and, occasionally, samples of music, dialogue and effects from films and television programmes.

A faster subgenre was known as “hardcore” but from as early as 1991, some musical tracks made up of these high-tempo breakbeats, with heavy basslines and samples of older Jamaican music, were referred to as “jungle techno“, a genre influenced by Jack Smooth and Basement Records, and later just “jungle“, which became recognised as a separate musical genre popular at raves and on pirate radio in Britain.

It is important to note when discussing the history of drum and bass that prior to jungle, the music was getting faster and more experimental. Professional DJ and producer C.K. states:

“There was a progression as far as the speed of music is concerned. Anyone buying vinyl every week from 1989 to 1992 noticed this.”

By 1994, jungle had begun to gain mainstream popularity and fans of the music (often referred to as junglists) became a more recognizable part of youth subculture.

The genre further developed, incorporating and fusing elements from a wide range of existing musical genres, including the raggamuffin sound, dancehall, MC chants, dub basslines, and increasingly complex, heavily edited breakbeat percussion.

Despite the affiliation with the ecstasy-fuelled rave scene, jungle also inherited some associations with violence and criminal activity, both from the gang culture that had affected the UK’s hip-hop scene and as a consequence of jungle’s often aggressive or menacing sound and themes of violence (usually reflected in the choice of samples).

However, this developed in tandem with the often positive reputation of the music as part of the wider rave scene and dancehall-based Jamaican music culture prevalent in London.

By 1995, whether as a reaction to, or independently of this cultural schism, some jungle producers began to move away from the ragga-influenced style and create what would become collectively labeled, for convenience, as drum and bass.

As the genre became generally more polished and sophisticated technically, it began to expand its reach from pirate radio to commercial stations and gain widespread acceptance (circa 1995–1997). It also began to split into recognizable subgenres such as jump-up and Hardstep.

As a lighter and often jazz-influenced style of drum and bass gained mainstream appeal, additional subgenres emerged including techstep (circa 1996–1997) which drew greater influence from techno music and the soundscapes of science fiction and anime films.

The popularity of drum and bass at its commercial peak ran parallel to several other homegrown dance styles in the UK including big beat and hard house.

But towards the turn of the millennium, its popularity was deemed to have dwindled as the UK garage style known as speed garage yielded several hit singles.

Speed garage shared high tempos and heavy basslines with drum and bass, but otherwise followed the established conventions of “house music“, with this and its freshness giving it an advantage commercially. London DJ/producer C.K. says:

“It is often forgotten by my students that a type of music called “garage house” existed in the late 1980s alongside hip house, acid house and other forms of house music.” He continues, “This new garage of the mid-90s was not a form of house or a progression of garage house. The beats and tempo that define house are entirely different. This did cause further confusion in the presence of new house music of the mid-1990s being played alongside what was now being called garage.”

Despite this, the emergence of further subgenres and related styles such as liquid funk brought a wave of new artists incorporating new ideas and techniques, supporting the continual evolution of the genre.

To this day drum and bass makes frequent appearances in mainstream media and popular culture including in television, as well as being a major reference point for subsequent genres such as grime and dubstep and successful artists including Chase & Status, Netsky, and Australia’s Pendulum.

Regional scenes

Despite its roots in the UK, which can still be treated as the “home” of drum and bass, the style has firmly established itself around the world.

There are strong scenes in other English-speaking countries including Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United States and, New Zealand.

It is popular throughout continental Europe and in South America. São Paulo is sometimes called the drum and bass Ibiza. Brazilian drum and bass is sometimes referred to as “sambass”, with its specific style and sound.

In Venezuela and Mexico, artists have created their own forms of drum and bass combining it with experimental musical forms.

In Colombia there is a large underground scene, The RE.set Label and Bogotá Project are two collectives that put on DnB events in the city, as well as a twice-yearly event called Radikal Styles, that brings together local talent and international big names.

Austria has a large emerging DnB scene with many artists such as Camo & Krooked, Mefjus, Fourward, Body & Soul, IllSkillz and mainly the Mainframe record label being all based in or around Vienna. Notable venues and events include The Hive and Beat It at Flex held almost every Thursday and Saturday, Vollkontakt at Fluc, Switch at Flex and the monthly Mainframe Recordings Label-Night hosted at Arena by label head Disaszt.

The Czech Republic currently hosts the largest drum and bass festival in the world, LET IT ROLL, with attendance of approximately 30,000.

The genre is also encountered Slovakia, and local producers in both countries like A-Cray, Rido, Forbidden Society, L Plus, B-Complex, Changing Faces, Lixx, Dephzac, Gabanna, etc. becoming well known worldwide.

There are several other drum and bass festivals being held each year in these countries, including Trident Festival, Exploration Festival or Hoofbeats Open Air in the summer, or one night events such as LET IT ROLL Winter, Imagination Festival, LET IT ROLL Winter Slovakia in the colder months.

During the club season, it goes without saying that promoters are racing between each other to organize better events, often resulting in 10 parties being held during one weekend with no more than 2-hour travel between them.


*This article was originally published at en.wikipedia.org.