Jungle music

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Jungle is a genre of electronic music derived from old school hardcore that developed in England in the early 1990s as part of rave scenes. The style is characterized by rapid tempos (150 to 200 bpm)[2] and breakbeats, as well as dub reggae-derived basslines, heavily syncopated percussive loops, samples and synthesized effects. Long pitch-shifted snare rolls are common in oldschool jungle. The terms "jungle" and "drum and bass" are often used interchangeably by the layman but this should not be the case. Jungle originated out of oldschool and in the late 1990s the term "drum and bass" was used in association with music that did not have the same emphasis on breakbeats and complex production.

Producers create the drum patterns, which are sometimes completely off-beat, by cutting apart breakbeats (most notably the Amen break). Jungle producers incorporated classic Jamaican/Caribbean sound-system culture production-methods. The slow, deep basslines and simple melodies (reminiscent of those found in dub, reggae and dancehall) accentuated the overall production, giving jungle its "rolling" quality.


The term jungle[edit]

Producers and DJs of the early 1990s, including MC 5ive '0, Groove Connection and Kingsley Roast place the origin of the word in the scene with pioneers like Moose, Soundman and Johnny Jungle.[3] According to MC Navigator of Kool FM, 'jungle' stems from the term 'junglist', which refers to people from Arnett Gardens, an area of Kingston. Navigator states it was Rebel MC who popularised the term in the UK, after sampling the phrase 'alla the junglists' from a tape of a sound-system party in Kingston.[4]

Sociocultural context[edit]

In Simon Reynolds' view, jungle was a form of cultural expression for London's lower class urban youth. The post-Thatcherite United Kingdom of the early 1990s had left many urbanites (especially young urbanites) disenfranchised and disillusioned with a seemingly crumbling societal structure. In Simon Reynolds' view, jungle reflected these feelings; it was a notably more dark, less euphoric style of music than many of the other styles popular at raves.[5]

Jungle was a racially mixed scene, but was much more popular with black British youths than other rave styles, such as techno.[6]

Jungle's rhythm-as-melody style overturned the dominance of melody-over-rhythm in the hierarchy of Western music, adding to its radical nature.[7]

The emergence of the jungle sound[edit]

In the summer of 1992, a Thursday night club in London called Rage was changing format in response to the commercialisation of the rave scene. Resident DJs Fabio and Grooverider, amongst others, began to take the hardcore sound to a new level. The speed of the music increased from 120 bpm to 150 bpm, while more ragga and dancehall elements were brought in and techno, disco and house influences were decreased.

Giorgio Moroder's rhythmic simplification in the form of Eurodisco was reversed by the development of jungle. The safety of the trance-like state produced by disco and house was replaced with the edginess and danger of disruptive beats.[8] When breakbeat hardcore lost the four-on-the-floor beat and created percussive elements solely from "chopped up" breakbeats, people began to use the terms 'jungle', 'junglist' and 'junglism' to describe the music itself. This was reflected in track titles of the era, typically from late 1992 and early 1993.

Rage shut its doors in 1993, but the new legion of jungle had evolved, changing dancing styles for the faster music, enjoying the off-beat rhythms and with less reliance on the chemical stimulation of the rave era.

One of the most widely used and distinctive breakbeats in the genre of jungle music is the "Amen break". The snare-and-cymbal sequence first appeared in The Winstons's 1969 single "Amen, Brother", and has since been chopped up, recycled, and remixed into countless drumbeats underlying most of the genre.[9]

Similarities with hip hop[edit]

Jungle shares a number of similarities with hip hop. Both genres of music are produced using the same types of equipment: samplers, drum machines, microphones and sequencers. Furthermore, both types of music contain the same primary components, including "rhythmic complexity, repetition with subtle variations, the significance of the drum, melodic interest in bass frequencies and breaks in pitch and time.".[3]

Breakbeat science[edit]

The maturation of Jungle coincided with an increasing ease of computer-based music production, allowing beats to be chopped, processed, and resequenced into higher and higher levels of complexity. Producers began meticulously building breakbeats from scratch with extreme precision, sequencing together individual single shot samples. The percussion took on an eerie chromatic quality through digital effects like time-stretching/compression, pitch shifting, ghosting, and psychedelia style reverse. The resultant polyrhythms of jungle's "rhythmic psychedelia" triggered a physical as well as mental disorientation in the listener/dancer. The melodic, textural bass differentiated Jungle from the metronomic, pulsating sound of mainstream dance music. This new "dangerbass" was physically experienced and multi-layered.[10]


Jungle reached the peak of its popularity between 1994 and 1995, when at this stage the genre was spawning a number of UK Top 40 hits, had a dedicated Lovemobile at technoparades, and spawned a series of CD compilations. It was towards the end of this period that the genre was being tainted by the majors (commercial) and the Jungle music went underground. This is when 'drum and bass' started to emerge as the European producers became intimidated by the stir Jungle had caused, and then incorporated new sounds and rhythms into their music.

Further evolution[edit]

1996 and 1997 saw a less reggae influenced sound and a darker, grittier, and more sinister soundscape. Hip hop and jazz influenced tracks dominated the clubs in this period. Dillinja, Roni Size, Die, Hype, Zinc and Krust were instrumental in the transition of the jungle sound to drum and bass. By the end of 1998, the genre's sound had changed forms significantly from that heard earlier in the decade.

Jungle today[edit]

The term "jungle" is often used as a synonym for drum and bass, particularly in the United States. More commonly jungle is viewed as the jumping off point for drum and bass, with the progressive changes brought by artists in the late 90's serving as the point of diversion (some examples being Reprazent, Ed Rush, LTJ Bukem, Potential Bad Boy, Photek, Jack Smooth, Digital, Total Science, Goldie and Optical).

There is certainly a thriving underground movement producing and developing tracks in the style of two decades ago and some original (though currently mainstream drum & bass) jungle producers have noticed this new enthusiasm for the original sound. The North American ragga-jungle revival in 2001 saw many new names emerge to carry the torch. Krinjah, RCola, and Chopstick Dubplate pushed things forward with junglized remixes of classic reggae tunes often produced with re-voicing done by the original singers.

In the United Kingdom the jungle scene, though underground, is still thriving with club nights specifically tributed to the Oldskool Jungle sound as well as more modern Drum and Bass and Dubstep. Many notable DJs from the original scene, such as Ray Keith, Goldie, LTJ Bukem, Bay B Kane, Congo Natty, Dillinja, Dom & Roland, Remarc, Kenny Ken, Doc Scott and Slipmatt still perform internationally, playing Jungle strictly produced between 1993 and 1999.

Shy FX, creator of "Original Nuttah" with UK Apache, has launched the Digital Soundboy label. Canadian imprint JungleXpeditions features songs with the structure and production values of modern drum & bass mixed with ragga vocals, including reggae and oldskool elements from an international roster of nu-skool producers. Ragga vocals and oldskool elements have consistently emerged present in the works of drum & bass producers and labels, particularly True Playaz and the last three years has seen a resurgence of vocalized productions.

There has also been an Eastern European, jungle oriented, underground movement with clothing fashions similar to the UK's '90s rave scene. Most notably countries such as Bulgaria are beginning an oldschool jungle revival.

The group Rudimental, who have reached #1 on the UK Singles Charts on two occasions, use elements of jungle and breakbeat in their music. Example's album Live Life Living, released in 2014, contains elements of jungle and other 90s dance and rave genres.


Subgenres of jungle include:

Initially known as Hardcore Jungle from its origins in 1992, this is instrumental jungle with a "dark", minimal focus (1993-1994).[11]
Intelligent jungle
Features an ambient sound that focuses on mood, synthesis and production methods (1993–present).
Ragga Jungle
Influenced by Jamaican reggae (from 1990 onwards) and often features an MC who recites dancehall-style lyrics.[11]

Notable artists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dancecult", Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture, Vol 1, No 1, (2009)
  2. ^ Noys, Benjamin. Into the Jungle, Popular Music, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Oct., 1995), pp. 321
  3. ^ a b See All Crews: Journeys Through Jungle / Drum and Bass Culture by Brian Belle-Fortune ISBN 0-9548897-0-3
  4. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2013). Energy Flash. p. 304. 
  5. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2012). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Soft Skull Press. pp. 239–240. 
  6. ^ Reynolds, Simon. Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. 
  7. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2012). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Soft Skull Press. p. 242. 
  8. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2012). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Soft Skull Press. p. 241. 
  9. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2012). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Soft Skull Press. p. 240. 
  10. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2012). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Soft Skull Press. pp. 241–243. 
  11. ^ a b Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music

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