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Breakbeat hardcore

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Breakbeat hardcore (also referred to as hardcore rave, oldskool hardcore or simply hardcore) is a music genre that spawned from the UK rave scene during the early 1990s. It combines four-on-the-floor rhythms with breakbeats usually sampled from hip hop. In addition to the inclusion of breakbeats, the genre also features shuffled drum machine patterns, hoover, and other noises originating from new beat and Belgian techno, sounds from acid house and bleep techno, and often upbeat house piano riffs and vocals.[1]


Early 1990s: origins[edit]

Fantazia Summertime rave, May 1992

The rave scene expanded rapidly in the very early 1990s, both at clubs up and down the country including Labrynth, Shelley's Laserdome, The Eclipse, and Sanctuary Music Arena, and large raves in Warehouses and in the open air attracting 20–50,000 whether put on legally from promoters such as Fantazia and Raindance, or unlicensed by free party sound systems such as Spiral Tribe. Breakbeat hardcore drew its melting pot of sound from a vast array of influences – from new beat and Belgian techno that had for a short period been prominent in the UK rave scene, to house and acid house, and furthermore drawing on hip hop and reggae culture.[2] Amongst the influences from within the rave scene itself upon which this strain of hardcore drew were such acts as Manix, The Hypnotist, CJ Bolland with his "Ravesignal" series, and T99.[3] The huge increase in producers was also driven by the increasing availability of cheap home computer-based studio setups, particularly Cubase for the Atari ST.[4]

Mid-1990s: fragmentation[edit]

By late 1992, breakbeat hardcore started to fragment into a number of subsequent genres: darkcore (piano rolls giving way to dark-themed samples and stabs), hardcore jungle (where reggae basslines and samples became prominent), and happy hardcore (retaining piano rolls and more uplifting vocals).[5]

2000s: revival[edit]

In the 2000s, the style experienced a revival as part of the nu-rave scene.[citation needed]

Hardcore breaks is a style of breakbeat hardcore that appeared in early-to-mid 2000s as part of growing nu-rave scene. The style is inspired by the sound and characteristics of old school breakbeat, while being fused with modern production techniques that distinguish the genre from the classic hardcore breakbeat sound.[6] The music is composed of looped, edited and processed breakbeat samples, intense bassline sounds, melodic piano lines, staccato synthesizer riffs, and various vocal samples (mostly taken from old house records). The speed of this genre typically fell between the range of 145–155 bpm, while the speed may variate on live sets. Originally being produced by a small group of artists with the vision of carrying on where oldskool hardcore left off before the jungle and happy hardcore split using new production techniques and technology, its appeal has now expanded to include artists from the original breakbeat hardcore scene creating new productions.[7] By the late 2000s, hardcore breaks tend to be produced and played at a bit faster tempos, often between 160–180 bpm. Therefore, it is often played at UK hardcore, freeform hardcore and drum and bass events.

Notable releases[edit]

Notable releases include:[8]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Reynolds 2013, p. 96, "1990 also saw the genesis of a distinctively British rave sound, 'hard core', which decisively broke with the mould of Detroit and Chicago, and ended the dependency on American imports. By 1991 this underground sound – actually a confederacy of hybrid genres and regional styles – was assaulting the mainstream pop charts.".
  2. ^ Reynolds 2013, pp. 96–97, "Between 1990 and 1993, hardcore in Britain referred by turns to the Northern bleep-and-bass sound of Warp and Unique 3, to the hip-house and ragga-techno sounds of the Shut Up And Dance label, to the anthemic pop-rave of acts like N-Joi and Shades of Rhythm, to Belgian and German brutalist techno, and, finally to the breakbeat-driven furore of hardcore jungle...Influenced by reggae and hip hop, hardcore producers intensified the sub-bass frequencies, used looped breakbeats to funk up house's four-to-the-floor machine-beat, and embraced sampling with deranged glee. Following the lead of the bombastic Belgians and Germans, UK producers deployed riff-like 'stabs' and bursts of glaring noise.".
  3. ^ Reynolds 2013, p. 120, "On the outskirts of the Top Forty, tracks by Manix, T99, the Hypnotist, Quadrophonia, Ravesignal, A Split Second, Congress and UHF exacerbated the sense of a barbarian horde waiting to overrun the pop citadel. In terms of hit rate, this 'golden age of hardcore' compares with the punk/New Wave period of the late seventies.".
  4. ^ Reynolds 2013, p. 96.
  5. ^ Reynolds 2013, p. 266, "Back in 1993, when hardcore plunged into the 'darkside', a breakaway faction of DJ-producers like Seduction, Vibes and Slipmatt continued to make celebratory, upful tunes based around hectic breakbeats. By the end of 1994, happy hardcore had coalesced into a scene that operated in parallel with its estranged cousin, jungle.".
  6. ^ Hulyer 2016.
  7. ^ Rolt 2018.
  8. ^ Richard X 2012; Middleton & Pritchard 2012; Dummy Mag 2016; If-Only 2017; Greenwood 2018; McCallum 2018; McQuaid 2019; Warwick 2019.


  • Dummy Mag (2 June 2016). "The 10 best rave tracks, according to 2 Bad Mice". Dummy Mag.
  • Greenwood, Sam (10 May 2018). "The 50 greatest rave anthems of all time". Four Four.
  • Hulyer, Jake (20 July 2016). "Lone Resists the Rave Revivalist Title on "Levitate"". Bandcamp Daily. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  • If-Only (24 May 2017). "Adventurous Transmissions from the 12th Isle". If-Only UK. Archived from the original on 23 January 2021.
  • Larkin, Colin, ed. (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 333. ISBN 0-7535-0252-6.
  • McCallum, Rob (24 August 2018). "10 ultimate rave anthems chosen by acid house heroes Altern-8". DJMag.
  • McQuaid, Ian (23 May 2019). "10 great lost rave anthems". RBMA.
  • Middleton, Tom; Pritchard, Mark (March 2012). "Global Communication". Red Bull Music Academy. Fuschl: Red Bull GmbH.
  • Reynolds, Simon (2013). Energy Flash: A Journey through Rave Music and Dance Culture (Rev. ed.). London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 9780571289134.
  • Rolt, Stuart (24 October 2018). "Calling The Hardcore release first compilation". BN1 Magazine. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  • Warwick, Oli (20 August 2019). "Aphex Twin on the Rephlex years". Resident Advisor. London: RA Ltd.
  • Richard X (3 June 2012). "20 best: Hardcore records ever made". FACTmag.

Further reading[edit]