Drum and bass
2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Musical genres, styles, eras and events
|Drum and bass|
|Stylistic origins:||Breakbeat hardcore, Techno, Hip hop, Reggae/ Ragga, Dancehall/ Dub, Funk, Breakbeat, Jazz|
|Cultural origins:||early/mid-1990s, London, Bristol|
|Typical instruments:||Synthesizer - Drum machine - Sequencer - Keyboard - Sampler - Laptop|
|Mainstream popularity:||Small, largely based in UK at first, now global|
|Darkstep - Drumfunk - Hardstep - Intelligent drum and bass - Jazzstep - Jump-Up - Liquid funk - Neurofunk - Ragga jungle - Sambass - Techstep|
|Breakcore - Breakstep - Darkcore - Dubstep - Hipstep - Techbreaks - Raggacore|
|Drum and bass artists, Drum and bass record labels|
Drum and bass (commonly abbreviated to DnB or drum n bass) is a type of electronic dance music also known as jungle. Emerging in the early 1990s, the genre is characterised by fast tempo broken beat drums (generally between 160 & 180 beats per minute) with heavy, often intricate basslines. Today, drum and bass is still considered an underground musical style, but its currents of influence run throughout popular music and culture.
Drum and bass began as an offshoot of the United Kingdom breakbeat hardcore and rave scene of the late 1980s; and over the first decade of its existence there have been many permutations in its style, incorporating elements from dancehall, electro, funk, hiphop, house, jazz, metal, pop, reggae, rock, techno and trance.
For the history of drum and bass music, please refer to the history article which details the origins of this genre in UK rave culture alongside the origin of the name jungle, the appearance of junglist subculture, the change in name and musical evolution to drum and bass and its development through its short-lived mainstream popularity, subsequent crisis and post-millennial rebirth.
The late 1980's and early 1990's saw the development of a musical style and scene (referring to the social aspects around the music) known as acid house in the UK. The music of acid house combined regular beats alongside broken, syncopated, beats and strong basslines and fast tempos (faster than house music tempos). As time drew by, musical tracks containing only broken beats began to be known as "jungle" and began to constitute a separate and recognizable musical genre (circa 1991-1992) popular at raves and on pirate radio in urban Britain. These tracks often combined ragga vocal tracks, broken beats and basslines. By 1994 jungle began to gain mainstream popularity and junglists as fans of the music began calling themselves became a recognisable part of British youth subculture. At this time jungle began to be associated with criminal activity and perhaps as a reaction or perhaps independently of this, producers began to draw away from the ragga style and create what they labelled drum and bass. There is no clear point at which jungle became drum and bass, though most jungle producers continue nowadays to produce what they call drum and bass.
As the music style became more polished and sophisticated, it began to shift from pirate to commercial radio and gain widespread acceptance (circa 1995-1997). It also began to split into recognisable subgenres such as jump-up. As a lighter sound of drum and bass began to win over the musical mainstream, many producers continued to work on the other end of the spectrum, resulting in a series of releases which highlighted a dark, technical sound which drew more influence from techno music and the soundscapes of science fiction and anime films, this sub-genre became know as techstep (circa 1997-1998). Whilst evolving musically, drum and bass found itself suddenly upstarted by the garage/2step musical style, which drew part of its inspiration from drum and bass. This genre quickly eclipsed drum and bass in popularity and nearing the turn of the millennium, predictions and statement were being made that "drum and bass is dead". Drum and bass however survived this event and the turn of the millennium has seen a revival in its popularity and continuing development, i.e. the appearance of the liquid funk subgenre which draws its inspiration from house and disco alongside a new wave of artists, joining the "jungle" pioneers. It remains a fairly unknown musical style but makes frequent unrecognised appearance in the mainstream as well as being highly influential on other musical styles and some of its artists are widely known, perhaps none more so than Goldie. It remains most popular in its birthplace in the UK but has spread worldwide over the short period of its existence.
Musicology of drum and bass
There are many views of what constitutes "real" drum and bass as it has many scenes and styles within it, from heavy paranoid vocal free techstep beats to the relaxed singing vibes of liquid funk. It has been compared with jazz where the listener can get very different sounding music all coming under the same music genre, because like drum and bass, it is more of an approach, or a tradition, than a style. The sounds of drum and bass are extremely varied - and to a person unfamiliar to them, there may seem to be little connection between the subgenres.
Drum and bass could at one time been defined as a strictly electronic musical genre with the only 'live' element being the DJ's selection and mixing of records during a set. However, the appearance and development of live acts using acoustic and electrically amplified instruments - in particular those employing live drumming by a drummer - pushes the genre outside of the sometimes narrow definition of electronic music.
For the already mentioned reasons, the musicology of drum and bass is difficult to precisely define; however, the following key characteristics may be observed:
Importance of drum and bassline elements
The name "drum and bass" should not lead to the assumption that tracks are constructed solely from these elements. Nevertheless, they are by far and away the most critical features, and usually dominate the mix of a track. Despite the apparent simplicity of drum and bass productions to the untrained ear, an inordinate amount of time is spent on preparing tracks by the more experienced producers.
The genre places great importance on deep sub-bass which is felt physically as much as it is heard, the "bassline". There has also been considerable exploration of different timbres in the bassline region, particularly within techstep. Basslines exist in many forms, but most notably they originate from sampled sources or synthesizers. Live played basslines are rare. Sampled basslines are often taken from double bass recordings or from publicly available loops. Synthesized basslines are however just as common.
In drum and bass productions, the basslines are subjected to many and varied sound effects, including standard techniques such as echo, flanger, chorus, over-drive, equalization, etc. and drum and bass specific techniques such as the "Reese Bass", in fact not a technique per se, but the degrees of processing, distortion and filtering placed upon a widely-used sample of Kevin Saunderson's most infamous 'Reese' bassline sample - from 1988's classic "Just Another Chance". Of equal importance is the infamous 808 bass, actually an elongated kick drum derived from Roland's classic TR-808 drum machine, a sound which has been subject to an enormous amount of experimentation over the years. These techniques are fully appreciated in a club or rave environment as only high grade bass speakers can fully reproduce the sounds of the eponymous bassline, whose frequencies are sometimes lower than audible (they can however be felt on the body). This has led to the creation of very large and intensely loud soundsystems by producers wishing to show off their tracks in a true high fidelity environment, such as Dillinja's Valve Sound System. This however does not mean that the music cannot be appreciated on personal equipment.
The drum element, that is the syncopated breakbeat, is another that producers spend a very large amount of time on. A drum fragment lasting seconds may often take a day or more to prepare, depending on the dedication of the producer. The Amen break is generally acknowledged to have been the most-used (and often considered the most powerful) break in drum and bass.
It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that drum and bass (at least in its early days) was a style built around a single broken beat element which was a single sample, the Amen, but other samples have had a significant impact, including the Apache break, the Funky Drummer, and others. The Funky Drummer has perhaps superseded the Amen in modern productions but the Amen is accepted to continue to be an extremely powerful (in a musical sense) break.
A commonly used break is the Tramen, a combined beat that is perhaps the ultimate statement on the fusion of musical styles in drum and bass as it combines the Amen, a James Brown funk breakbeat ("Tighten Up" or "Samurai" break) and an Alex Reece drum and bass breakbeat.
The very fast (objectively) drum beat forms a canvas on which a producer can create tracks to appeal to almost any taste and often will form only a background to the other elements of the music. However, without a fast & broken beat, a drum and bass track would not be a drum and bass track but could be classified as a gabber, techno, breaks or house music track.
Stone cold sober, how can I? I can't go to work today. Lord oh Lord what have I done? I wanna dance to the beat of a different drum. - London Elektricity "Different Drum" (Hospital) 2003
Drum and bass is usually between 160-180 BPM, in contrast to other forms of breakbeat such as nu skool breaks which maintain a slower pace at around 130-140 BPM. A general upward trend in tempo has been observed during the evolution of drum and bass. The earliest old skool rave was around 125 / 135 bpm in 1989 / 1991, early (late 1992 - 1993) jungle / breakbeat hardcore was around 155-165 BPM. Since around 1996, drum'n'bass tempos have predominantly stayed in the 173 to 180 range. Recently some producers have started to once again produce tracks with slower tempos (i.e. in the 150's and 160's), but the mid-170 tempo is still the hallmark of the drum and bass sound.
A track combining the same elements (broken beat, bass, production techniques) as a drum and bass track, but with a slower beat (say 140 BPM), would not be drum and bass but a drum and bass influenced breakbeat track.
The speed of drum and bass is not however only characterised by that of the broken beat. Drum and bass has a bassline, which will typically play at half the speed of the drums, bringing its speed down to that of, for instance, a laid back hip-hop track. A listener or dancer can concentrate on this element rather than the faster drums.
It should be noted that the speed of music is subjective. A aggressively produced track with a complicated beat and synthesizer sounds may 'sound faster' than one with a sampled double bass bassline, guitar riffs and simpler beat, however the second track may be in strict BPM terms faster. Radio friendly tracks like Shy FX's "Shake Ur Body" often have higher BPMs than ominous techstep productions which might eject the unitiated very quickly from a dancefloor.
It is interesting to note that the faster a track is in BPM terms, the less complex its drum patterns can be because at higher step the elements cease to be heard separately, turning them into a wall of sound. A faster drum and bass track will therefore generally have a less complex drum pattern than a slower one.
Live performances of drum and bass music on electric and acoustic instruments will often entail a drop in relative BPM (though not necessarily), unsurprising in light of the complexity of drum patterns and the high exertion required of a drummer.
For the most part, drum and bass is a form of dance music, mostly designed to be heard in clubs. It exhibits a full frequency response and physicality which often simply cannot be fully appreciated on home listening equipment. As befits its name, the bass element of the music is particularly pronounced, with the comparatively sparse arrangements of drum and bass tracks allowing room for basslines that are deeper than most other forms of dance music. Consequently, drum and bass parties are often advertised as featuring uncommonly loud and bass-heavy sound systems.
There are however many albums specifically designed for personal listening. The mix CD is a particularly popular form of release, with a big name dj/producer mixing live, or on a computer, a variety of tracks for personal listening. Additionally, there are many albums containing unmixed tracks, suited for home or car listening.
Importance of the DJ and MC
Drum and bass is often heard via a DJ. Because most tracks are designed to be mixed by a DJ, their structure typically reflects this, with intro and outro sections designed for a DJ to use while beat-matching, rather than being designed to be heard in entirety by the listener. The DJ typically mixes between records so as not to lose the continuous beat. In addition, the DJ may employ hip hop style " scratching", "double-drops" (where two tracks are synchronized such that both tracks drop at the same time), and "rewinds."
Many mixing points begin or end with the " drop". The drop is the point in a track where a switch of rhythm or bassline occurs and usually follows a recognisable build section and " breakdown". Sometimes the drop is used to switch between tracks, layering components of different tracks, though as the two records may be simply ambient breakdowns at this point, this could be considered lazier than blending the music where breakbeats play together. Some drops are so popular that the DJ will "rewind" or "reload" by spinning the record back and restarting it at the build. This is a technique which can easily be overused as it breaks the continuity of a set. "The drop" is often a key point from the point of view of the dancefloor, since the drumbreaks often fade out to leave an ambient intro playing. When the beats re-commence they are often more complex and accompanied by a heavier bassline, encouraging the crowd to dance. "Jump up" initially referred to the urge for those seated to dance at this point, though it came later to refer more specifically to a style of the music.
Dj support (that is playing a track) in a club atmosphere or on radio is critical in track success, even if the track producer is well known. To this end, djs will receive dubplates a long time before a general release of a track, sometimes many months before, in order to spark interest in it as well as benefit the dj (exclusive and early access to tracks is a hallmark of dj success, i.e. the case of Andy C). Sometimes a DJ will receive versions of tracks that are not planned for general release, these are so-called VIP mixes.
DJs are often accompanied by one or more MCs, drawing on the genre's roots in hip hop and reggae/ ragga.
The role of MCs in the music cannot be underestimated but they do not generally receive the same level of recognition as producer/djs. There are relatively few well-know drum and bass MC's, with Dynamite MC, MC Fats and Stevie Hyper D (deceased) as examples.
"You and me - me and you! We haffi brock a smile and don go ta school. This one dedicated to all junglist crew, we haffi get lively inna de venue! We bawl ... Where's the noise? I want you jump up and swing, and move your body with no delay. Hyper on the microphone, I've nuff to say, nuff to say, nuff to say." - Congo Natty "Stevie Hyper D Tribute" (Congo Natty) 2005
Recently, smaller scenes within the drum and bass community have developed and the scene as a whole has become much more fractured into specific sub-genres. The generally accepted and major sub-genres of drum and bass include:
- Darkstep (or "Darkside" or "Dark")
- Drumfunk (or "Choppage", "Edits")
- Intelligent drum and bass (or "Atmospheric" or "Ambient")
- Jazzstep (or "Jazz and Bass")
- Liquid funk
- Sambass (or "Brazilian Drum and Bass")
The following are to a lesser and great degree, arguable subgenres, they would generally be described as separate genres by their proponents:
- Breakcore (arguably a different genre, not a subgenre with many differences)
- Darkcore (both a precursor and a descendant of drum and bass since modern darkcore productions share much with darkstep)
- Raggacore (arguably a different genre, not a subgenre with many differences)
- Ragga jungle (arguably a different genre, not a subgenre - a modern sound which shares most if not all characteristics with early jungle music - difficult to differentiate - perhaps through frequent mention of Haile Selassie and rastafarian themes)
- Techmospheric (arguably not a recognized subgenre)
As with all attempts to classify and categorize music, the above should not be treated as definitive. Many producers release albums and tracks which touch into many of the above styles and there are significant arguments as to the classification of tracks as well as the basic defining characteristics of subgenres. The list of arguable subgenres in particular should not be treated as definitive.
The modern distinctive ragga jungle style (arguably subgenre or even separate genre) is a direct throwback to the 1994-1995 style of drum and bass production. However, many modern drum and bass mainstream productions contain ragga, dancehall and regga elements, they are just not as dominant as previously.
Clownstep is a derisory term for varieties of drum and bass not appreciated by certain listeners (in particular the jump-up variety) and is prevalent on the internet, whilst not being a subgenre as such. Most producers would feel insulted by the labelling of their music as "clownstep".
"Dubwise" is more of a stylistic approach than subgenre.
Jungle vs. drum and bass
Nowadays the difference between jungle (or oldschool jungle) and drum and bass is a common debate within the "junglist" community. There is no universally accepted semantic distinction between the terms "jungle" and "drum and bass". Some associate "jungle" with older material from the first half of the 1990s (sometimes referred to as "jungle techno"), and see drum and bass as essentially succeeding jungle. Others use jungle as a shorthand for ragga jungle, a specific sub-genre within the broader realm of drum and bass. In the U.S., the combined term "jungle drum and bass" (JDB) has some popularity, but is not widespread elsewhere. Probably the widest held viewpoint is that the terms are simply synonymous and interchangeable: drum and bass is jungle, and jungle is drum and bass.
"At the end of the day I am an ambassador for Drum and Bass the world over and have been playing for 16 years under the name Hype... To most of you out there Drum and Bass will be an important part of your lives, but for me Drum and Bass/Jungle is my life and always has been... We all have a part to play and believe me when I say I am no fucking bandwagon jumper, just a hard working Hackney man doing this thing called Drum and Bass/Jungle." DJ Hype
Influences on drum and bass
Drum and bass music, born in samplers, has been and is heavily influenced by other music genres, though this influence has perhaps been lessened in the shift from jungle to drum and bass and the intelligent drum and bass and techstep revolution. It still remains a fusion music style.
It could be stated that Miles Davis is one the most important influences. Blues artists like Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Muddy Waters & B.B King have also been cited by producers as inspirations.
As a musical style built around a funk or rock & roll beat (syncopated) Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Temptations, Jackson 5, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, the Supremes, the Commodores, George Clinton, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Herbie Hancock, James Brownand even Michael Jackson, are funky influences on the music.
A very obvious and strong influence on jungle and drum and bass is the original dub and reggae sound out of Jamaica, with pioneers like King Tubby, Pete Tosh, Sly & Robbie, Bill Laswell, Lee Perry, Mad Professor, Roots Radics, Bob Marley and Buju Banton heavily influencing the music. This influence has lessened with time but is still evident with many tracks containing ragga vocals.
Early hip-hop is an extremely important influence on drum and bass, with the genres sharing the same broken beat. Drum and bass shares many musically characteristics with hip-hop though it is nowadays mostly stripped of lyrics. Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaata, De La Soul, 2 Live Crew, Jungle Brothers, Kool Keith, Run DMC, Public Enemy, Schooly D, NWA, Wu-Tang Clan, Dr Dre, Mos Def, Beastie Boys and the Pharcyde are very often directly sampled, regardless of their general influence.
Even modern avant-garde composers such as Henryk Gorecki have influenced drum and bass.
Many tracks belonging to other genres are 'remixed' into drum and bass versions. The quality of these remixes varies from the simple and primitive adding of broken beats to a vocal track or to complete reworkings that may exceed the original in quality and effort put into them. Original artists will often ask for drum and bass remixes of their tracks to be made in order to spark further interest in their tracks (i.e. Aphrodite's remix of Jungle Brothers' "Jungle Brother"). On the other hand, some tracks are (illegally) remixed and released on white label (technically bootleg), often to acclaim (i.e. Dj Zinc's remix of the Fugees "Ready Or Not", eventually legally released). White labels along with dubplates play an important part in drum and bass musical culture.
In mentioning drum&bass influences, special mention needs to be given to a few scenes and individuals.
The first is the US breakbeat scene which emerged in the 1980s, the most famous artist being NYC's Frankie Bones whose infamous 'Bones Breaks' series from the late '80's onwards helped push the house-tempoed breakbeat sound (especially in the UK) and can be said to be a direct precursor to the UK breakbeat / hardcore scene.
The second is Kevin Saunderson, who released a series of bass-heavy, minimal techno cuts as Reese / The Reese Project in the late '80s which were hugely influential in drum and bass terms. One of his more infamous basslines was indeed sampled on Renegade's 'Terrorist' and countless others since, being known simply as the 'Reese' bassline. He followed these up with equally influential (and bassline heavy) tracks in the UK hardcore style as Tronik House in 1991 / 1992. Another Detroit artist who was important for the scene is Carl Craig. The sampled up jazz break on Carl Craig's "Bug in the Bassbin" was also influential on the newly emerging sound, DJs at the Rage club used to play it pitched up (increased speed) as far as their Technics record decks would go.
The third precursor worth mentioning here is the Miami, USA Booty Bass / Miami Bass scene, first popularised by 2 Live Crew in the mid to late '80's. There are clear sonic parallels with drum bass here in the use of uptempo synths and drum machines in producing bass-heavy party music. However, this movement had absolutely no connection with either the US house scene or the UK acid house / rave scene, and to that extent is not classifiable as 'rave' music in the same way as the above examples possibly are.
Drum and bass tracks often contain many direct samples from other tracks, some examples are listed below:
- Afrika Bambaataa's eponymous "Planet Rock" - the beat is sampled in Hypnotist's "Pioneers Of The Warped Groove" (Rising High)
- A-Ha's pop megahit "Take On Me" - the synths are sampled in Yolk's "Bish Bosh" (Ruffbeat)
- Beastie Boys's highly influential "The New Style" - the word "drop" is sampled in Lemon D's "Break It Down" (Reinforced)
- Cypress Hill's searing "I Wanna Get High" - the horn loop beat is sampled in Shy FX Feat. UK Apachi's "Original Nuttah" (Sound Of Underground Recordings)
- De La Soul's "The Game Show" - the vocal "now, here's what we'll do" is sampled in DJ Krust's "Guess" (V)
Drum and bass also samples other media, including film and television:
- Apocalypse Now - The phrase "And for my sins they gave me one" is sampled in Hyper On Experience's "Ouiji Awakening" (Moving Shadow)
- Blade Runner - The phrase "Angels fell" is sampled in Dillinja's "Angels Fell" (Metalheadz)
- Goodfellas - The intro "One day the neighbourhood kids..." is sampled in Shy Fx Feat. UK Apachi's "Original Nuttah" (Sound Of Underground Recordings)
- Robocop - The phrase "You're gonna be a bad muthafucker" in A Guy Called Gerald's "Cyber Jazz"
- Scarface - The phrase "All I have in this world are my balls and my word... and I break them for nobody" in Dj Hype's "True Playaz Anthem" (Parousia)
Influenced by drum and bass
Jungle/drum and bass has and continues to influence many other musical genres, thanks to its variety, experimentation and producer (borderline obsessive) professionalism.
Speed garage and 2step in the UK were born at the height of the popularity of jungle, copying the bass-lines, fast tempo (though much slowed down), ragga vocals (with frequent MC accompaniment) and production techniques. They may be referred to as descendants of drum and bass and at one time drove drum and bass into relative obscurity. It is perhaps ironic, that grime and dubstep, their descendants have driven these genres underground whilst drum and bass has survived and evolved. Dubstep combines sounds of 2step with the deep basslines and reggae vibe of early jungle.
Born at the end of the millennium, breakcore shares many of the elements of drum and bass and to the unitiated, tracks from the extreme end of drum and bass, may sound identical to breakcore thanks to speed, complexity, impact and maximum sonic density combined with musical experimentation. Raggacore resembles a faster version of the ragga influenced jungle music of the 1990's, similar to breakcore but with more friendly dancehall beats (dancehall itself being a very important influence on drum and bass). Darkcore a direct influence on drum and bass, is itself heavily influenced by drum and bass, especially darkstep. There is considerable crossover from the extreme edges of drum and bass, breakcore, darkcore and raggacore with fluid boundaries.
Drill and bass, a sub-genre of intelligent dance music (also known as "IDM"), popularized by Aphex Twin, features many of the same types of rhythms used in drum and bass and is generally focused on complexity in programming and instrumentation. Its main proponents include Squarepusher and Venetian Snares, amongst others. IDM itself has been heavily influenced by drum and bass.
Despite never gaining the mainstream popularity of speed garage and 2step, drum and bass' impact in musical terms has been very significant and the genre has influenced many other genres like jazz, metal, hiphop, big beat, house music, trip hop, ambient music, techno, hardcore and pop, with artists such as Bill Laswell, Slipknot, Timbaland, Missy Elliot, Pharell, Fat Boy Slim, Lamb, Underworld, The Streets, The Freestylers, Nine Inch Nails and David Bowie (the last two both using elements of Goldie's "Timeless") and others quoting drum and bass and using drum and bass techniques and elements. This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of impact and influence.
Drum and bass globally
Despite its roots in the UK, which can still be treated as the "home" of drum and bass, drum and bass has firmly established itself around the world. There are strong scenes in other English-speaking countries including the Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the already mentioned United States. It is popular in Europe, in countries ranging from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and the Netherlands. It is also popular in South America. São Paulo is sometimes called the drum and bass Ibiza. Brazilian drum and bass is sometimes referred to as "sambass", with its specific style and sound. In Venezuela, artists have created their own forms of drum and bass combining it with experimental musical forms. Asia also has a drum and bass scene in countries and cities like Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Shanghai and Singapore.
Appearances in the mainstream
"I'll keep you in safety, for ever protect you. I'll hide you away from, the world you rejected. I'll hide you, I’ll hide you." - Kosheen "Hide U" (Moksha) 1999
"Shotter, hitter, serial killer! Go a your funeral and all drink out your liquor, when you are bury, we stand next to the vicar. Fling on some dirt and make your bury a little quicker, shouldn't test the youths, them in the Tommy Hilfiger." - Pendulum & Fresh & Tenor Fly "Tarantula" (Breakbeat Kaos) 2005
Certain drum and bass releases have found mainstream popularity in their own right, almost always material prominently featuring vocals.
Perhaps the earliest example was Goldie's " Timeless" album of 1995, along with Reprazent's " New Forms" in 1997 and Pendulum's " Hold Your Colour" in 2005. Tracks such as Shy FX and T-Power's "Shake UR Body" gained a UK Top 40 Chart placing in 2005. Hive's "Ultrasonic Sound" was also used in The Matrix soundtrack.
More recently, video game tracks, specifically Rockstar Games releases, have contained many drum and bass tracks, i.e. the MSX/ MSX 98 radio station in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.
Drum and bass often makes an appearance as background music, especially in Top Gear and television commercials thanks its aggressive and energetic beats. Due to drum and bass' relative obscurity, most listeners would not recognise the music as drum and bass.
Drum and bass is dominated by a few large drum and bass specific record labels (run by veteran drum and bass producers and djs, i.e. Dillinja's Valve label) but there exist many tiny record labels often run from bedrooms. Drum and bass labels are generally run for pleasure and profit by its artists.
The major international music labels such as Sony Music, Universal and such are generally not interested in drum and bass artists due to their relatively low sales figures.
Accessing drum and bass
Drum and bass is mostly sold in 12-inch vinyl single format, although some albums, compilations and dj mixes are sold on cds. Purchasing drum and bass can involve searching specialized record shops or using one of many online vinyl, CD and mp3 retailers.
Drum and bass can also be purchased in the form of "tape packs".
These are a collection of recordings recorded at a selected rave or party. Each tape contains the set by one DJ at that particular rave/party including the MC's.
Most tape packs contain 8 tapes with sets from different DJ's. More recently tape packs have become available on CD as tape cassettes are being phased out and recordable CD media is more available, although the CD packs still retain their traditional name of “tape packs”. Most of these packs contain 6 CDs.
The bulk of drum and bass vinyl records and CDs are distributed globally and regionally by a relatively small number of companies.