Mainstream hardcore

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A Hardcore track (here, US by Johan Jello and Peligro Extremo). Notice the distorted kick at 0:24 which is a particularity of the genre.

Hardcore or Gabber, is a style of electronic music

The essence of Hardcore sound is a distorted bass drum sound, overdriven to the point where it becomes clipped into a distorted square wave and makes a recognizably melodic tone.

Often the Roland Alpha Juno or the kick from a Roland TR-909 was used to create this sound. Gabber tracks typically include samples and synthesized melodies with the typical tempo ranging from 150 to 180 bpm. Violence, drugs and profanity are common themes in mainstream hardcore, perceptible through its samples and lyrics, often screamed, pitch shifted, or distorted.

Hardcore is popular in many countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy. It also has a newfound popularity in Australia and Brazil. In Germany, Mainstream hardcore parties often take place in the Ruhr area, as well as Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt.


"Gabber" (/ˈɡæbər/; Dutch: [ˈɣɑbər]) is an Amsterdam Bargoens slang (derived from Yiddish chaver) that means "mate", "buddy", "pal" or "friend". The music got its name from an article in which Amsterdam DJ K.C. the Funkaholic was asked how he felt about the harder Rotterdam house music scene. He's supposed to have answered "They're just a bunch of gabbers having fun". DJ Paul Elstak from Rotterdam read this article and on the first Euromasters record (released through Rotterdam Records), he engraved in the vinyl "Gabber zijn is geen schande!" translating as "it's not a disgrace to be a gabber!". The word gained popularity in the Rotterdam house scene and people started to call themselves 'gabbers'.[1]

The Hardcore sound derives from the early hardcore (still called gabber at the time). In the late 1990s, the early hardcore became less popular than the Hardstyle. After surviving underground for a number of years, in 2002 the gabber regained some popularity in the Netherlands, although the sound is more mature, darker, and industrial. Some producers started embracing a slower style characterized by a deeper, harder bass drum that typically had a longer envelope than was possible in the traditional, faster style. In this aspect, this new form of gabber obviously cannot be considered less powerful than its precursor. This newer sound was referred to as "New Style" or "Mainstream" and as the tempo got slower and slower it began to become similar to hard house. Many hardcore enthusiasts hated hard house and the club scene it typified, and frequently DJs would be booed by one group of fans and cheered for by another at the same party, depending on the tempo and style of music they were playing. This is similar to the rivalry and mutual dislike that surfaced earlier between fans of "regular" hardcore and happy hardcore. Eventually the two styles met in the middle, and most gabber today is produced in a range of 160-180 bpm. This style is typically a bit slower than the Rotterdam style of the mid-1990s.


Angerfist, one of the most famous DJs of Hardcore.

Hardcore is characterized by its bass drum sound. Essentially, it comes from taking a normal synthesized bass drum and over-driving it heavily. The approximately sinusoidal sample starts to clip into a square wave with a falling pitch. This results in a number of effects: the frequency spectrum spreads out, thus achieving a louder, more aggressive sound. It also changes the amplitude envelope of the sound by increasing the sustain. Due to the distortion, the drum also develops a melodic tone. It is not uncommon for the bass drum pattern to change pitch throughout the song to follow the bass line. Lots of tracks rely on a clean, detuned supersaw lead, similar to uplifting trance.

Recent developments[edit]

In the 2000s, some producers produced neither Nu Style or oldschool gabber. They focused again on speed, with tracks normally go over 200 bpm.[1] Subgenres have developed where scenes exhibit certain musical traits and are mainly defined by their kick drum sound. These subgenres include:

  • Frenchcore - A fast style from 180 to 240 bpm, it is the main subgenres. In the old school version it had a style based on tekno/industrial rhythm, while since 2010 it evolves in something closer to Mainstyle, with melodies and aggressive bassdrums. The main producers are: Prototype Hardcore, Dam, Radium, Micropoint, Adrenokrome, Bit Reactors.
  • Terrorcore uses same highly distorted kick drum as gabber. Tracks are normally minimalistic and non-melodic, and the themes are normally highly aggressive. Artists include DJ Plague, Nordcore GMBH, The Destroyer, SRB, Akira, Noisekick, and Dj Smurf.
  • Hardcore Techno removes the distortion from the kick drum, in favor of a more natural heavy reverb sound, which is usually affected by a filter. There's usually influence from breakcore, which uses distorted breaks over the 4/4 kick, and a lot of tracks have ambient sounds and a progressive feel. Artists include Hellfish, DJ Producer, Bryan Fury, Deathmachine, Teknoist, and Scott Brown. Occasionally, UK Hardcore producers try their hand at producing Hardcore Techno, such as Gammer and Brisk & Vagabond. Some UK Hardcore producers also like to put small sections of gabber within their tracks. Fans of this include Hixxy and Re-Con. Other Hardcore Techno artists such as the 'Gabba Surgeons' draw from a whole myriad of genres including drum & bass, electro and house. There is also a cult following of Japanese hardcore techno, also known as j-core, where the general themes include sound samples from anime and videogames, arranges of Touhou Project soundtracks, and a greater emphasis on melody than its Western counterpart.
  • Speedcore - A faster type of gabber usually 300 bpm or faster. The term "splittercore" is usually used for speedcore tracks of 500-900 bpm. The term "extratone" is used for tracks of over 1000 bpm; though the usefulness of this distinction is debatable due to the capacity of human ears to detect the differences in such high beats per minute.

Notable record labels[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music (4th ed.). Backbeat Books. pp. x. ISBN 978-0879306281. 

External links[edit]