The Advent of Break Music in DJ Sets
It was in the 1980s that Breakbeat became a must have feature of various genres of Break music. In that period, Break music was gradually growing in popularity and so was the concept of using Break beats to make the songs more upbeat. Genres such as Acid Breaks, Big Beat, Nu Breaks and Miami Bass all had major or minor break beat influences.
Break tracks became a mainstay in the sets of a number of world famous DJs in the world. It was easy to churn out these tracks since the tempo of break tracks can be conveniently mixed with a number of different genres.
Afrika Bambaataa, Whodini, Davy DMX, Deekline, Dynamix II, 2 Live Crew, Cybotron, Nubreed, Hybrid, Phil K, Dirty Harry, NAPT, DJ Icey, Stanton Warriors, FreQ Nasty, Krafty Kuts, Kid Kenobi, Freestylers, K-Swing, Soul Of Man, DJ Sharaz, Annie Nightingale and performance troupe Lucent Dossier Experience are just a few of the many DJs who had an affinity for Break music.
If you want to listen to Break beats, then grab a hold of hip hop, jungle or hardcore tracks. All of these contain Break beats in lesser or greater quantities. As mentioned before Break beats or Break music in general can be found in other more mainstream music as well. These would include the genres of pop, rock and alternative. Jingles in TV and radio commercials also showcase Break music. An example would be the background music in car and jean commercials that are played on the television and the radio as well. Break may not be as dominant as some of the other more well known genres of Electronic music, but their presence can certainly be felt almost everywhere.
Ease of Creating Break Music
Digital sampling and music editing are two gifts of modern day technology that have enabled us to create Break beats and Break music in general with much more ease than we had in the past. Not only is it easy to create Break music, but it is also a lot more convenient and economical to apply Break music in a number of different tracks and songs. There is no longer any need to cut and splice tape sections or frequently backspin two records simultaneously. All you need is a computer program, which will help you to cut, paste and loop breaks whenever you want, wherever you want and how much ever you want. You can also make use of digital effects such as filters, reverb, reversing, time stretching and pitch shifting in order to enhance the impact of the beat. These digital effects can be added to individual songs by themselves. A single musical instrument from within a break beat can be sampled and blended with others. This is an effortless way of creating a wide new range of break beat patterns.
Common Sampled Breaks
If you are in search of one of the most commonly used and sampled breaks among music using break beats, then refer to the Amen break, which is basically a drum break from the Winston’s song “Amen, Brother’. “King of Beats” by Matromonix is where this beat was first used. Ever since that, it has been used in uncountable songs. James Brown’s Funky Drummer (1970) and Give it Up or Turnit a Loose, The Incredible Bongo Band’s 1973 cover of The Shadows’ “Apache”, and Lyn Collins’ 1972 song “Think (About It)” are examples of other celebrated Breaks.
The arrival of digital audio samples coupled with the ever increasing popularity of Break music gave rise to certain legal complications. This is because the enterprising companies began retailing “Break beat packages” with the sole motive of allowing artists to formulate Break beats. A single Break beat kit CD would contain a number of Break beat samples derived from a vast number of songs and artists. This was often derived without the permission of the owner, or in simpler terms, it was a form of copyright infringement.
We can go back to the example of Amen Break, the song from the Winston’s. A company by the name of Zero-G released a “Jungle Construction kit” that was incorporated with literally hundreds of different audio samples. Among them, one was a ditto copy of Amen Break, which was unnoticeably sped up. Zero G at that time, claimed that they had the copyright to the track because a copyright trademark was imprinted on the packaging of the product. Once Zero-G realized that someone else may have the copyright claim on the audio sample in concern, they took it off the product. Zero-G received the product from a DJ known as Danny DeMierre. The DJ claimed that the audio sample was his intellectual property. At the end of the day, the copyright problems were not resolved and the Winston’s are yet to receive their due royalties for the third party use of their original work.
Contributions of Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim
In the 1990s, acts like the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim focused their efforts on reviving and repackaging the Break genre. Break beats became the foundation for their songs. They invested a lot of time and money into experimenting with it. Their experimentation eventually paid off with the release of some massive hits that redefined and revolutionized Break music.
In conclusion, we can say that Break music lives in the shadow of its fellow EDM genres. It had peaked in popularity back in the 1990s, but since then it has not recaptured its temporary glory. Given the legal complications and the lack of sound knowledge about the genre, the chances of Break music staging a comeback look quite bleak. Nonetheless, if there’s anything music history has taught us, it’s that you can never count out any genre.
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