We’ve thought of all the need-to-know terms for your ultimate dubstep listening pleasure and defined them here.
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DUB: the “dub” part in dubstep comes from the influence of Jamaican dub music like that from King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry in the 1960s and 1970s, who with early electronic systems were able to take popular songs, isolate the drum and bass tracks and reassemble the sounds. To dub means to make a copy of something, but the word eventually came to mean “put an emphasis on the drums and bass.” Without the concept of a “dub” version, we wouldn’t have the remix, much less dubstep!
STEP: the “step” is from 2-Step garage music from the UK. This deviation from traditional, 4/4 rhythmic garage music makes use of irregular drum patterns. Kicks are on the first and third beat with a random, jarring sound in between.
BPM: stands for beats per minute. This is essentially the method of distinction between different electronic dance music genres with dubstep falling into anything between 138 to 150. A lot of dubstep sounds slower because of the bass rhythm, but having a BPM of around 140 is the standard for dance/aerobics tracks, too.
WOBBLE BASS: the “wub wub” that is often referenced in connection with dubstep is the main charactaristic that separates the genre from its close relatives of grime, eski and everything in between. A single bass note is isolated from the track and manipulated to be faster or slower by a low frequency oscillator which the producer wields as a magic wand.
THE DROP: Drops actually exist in a lot of different genres, electronic and not–and it is the point where the bassline and/or rhythm changes, usually into a lower and slower register. In dubstep, the drop comes after a build-up and is prefaced by either a short silence or a signifying sound such as a siren or synthetic vocals. After that, all mayhem breaks loose with the wobbliest of bass. Think of it as a REALLY good chorus that comes after a verse amps the crowd.