Stab (music)

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In music, a stab is a single staccato note or chord that adds dramatic punctuation to a composition. Stabs are usually provided by horns (real or synthesized), thus the term horn stab, or an orchestral sample and usually occur on a 1-beat. Stabs are used in a wide variety of music genres including jazz, rock, classical, funk, freestyle, trap, EDM, metal and ska. See orchestra hit for audio samples. There is no standardized notation symbol to specifically indicate a stab. They are most commonly notated as a short note value with a staccato dot, sometimes with the verbal marking "stab".

There's a rule of thumb in funk music that says short sounds are better than long: thus the drier the guitar hit, the tighter the horn stab, the slappier the bass, the more clipped the clavinet etc, the better. It's the bits of silence in-between these short events that builds anticipation for the next one - the tension/release principle in rhythmic form.

Stabs are also used in electronic music in the form of very short snippets of a song used as rhythmic accents in a new composition.[2] Early breakbeat hardcore, such as Prodigy's "Fire", and hip hop in general made use of stabs.[3][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lodder, Steve (2005). Stevie Wonder: A Musical Guide to the Classic Albums. Backbeat. p. 106. ISBN 0879308214.
  2. ^ Weinel, Jonathan (2018). Inner Sound: Altered States of Consciousness in Electronic Music and Audio-visual Media. Oxford University Press. pp. 86–87. ISBN 0190671181.
  3. ^ David M. (3 December 2013). "History of UK hardcore rave music". Toucan Music. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  4. ^ Marshall, Wayne (2002). Producing the Real: Hip-hop Music and Authenticity. University of Wisconsin–Madison. pp. 50–51. OCLC 608820774.