Dubstep is an electronic dance music genre born in South London in the early 2000s. Sparse, syncopated rhythmic patterns and powerful sub-bass frequencies distinguish it. The genre arose as an outgrowth of the UK garage. This means it relied upon a lineage of related styles including two-step, dub reggae, jungle, broken beat, and grime. The genre’s origins trace back to the rise of the Jamaican sound system party scene in the early 1980s.

Dubstep derives from the word “dub”. The word refers to a type of music with a slow drum rhythm and powerful bass. The term “step” comes from the phrase “two-step garage.”

This style and other types of garage music were shown and promoted at London’s nightclub Plastic People, in 2001, during the “Forward” night. It was also broadcast on the pirate radio station Rinse FM. This station went on to have a significant influence on the consolidation of the genre.

Around 2002, labels such as Big Apple, Ammunition, and Tempa began to use the name “dubstep” in reference to a music genre. At this point, stylistic patterns used in remixes became more evident and different from two-step and grime. When dubstep began to spread beyond small local scenes in late 2005 and early 2006, many devoted websites appeared on the Internet and aided the growth of the scene. Examples include “dubstepforum”, the download site Barefiles, and blogs such as “gutter breaks”.

Derivations and structure of dubstep

The genre became increasingly popular in the UK during the end of the 2000s and into the early 2010s. Music journalists and reviewers have also observed dubstep influence in the work of some pop singers. Around the same time, producers began combining aspects of the original dubstep sound with other influences. This resulted in fusion genres such as future garage and the slower and more experimental post-dubstep. The harsher electro-house and heavy metal-influenced variant brostep, led by American producers such as Skrillex, greatly contributed to the popularity of dubstep in the United States.

Initially, dubstep releases shared structural elements with other genres such as drum and bass and UK garage. These would typically consist of an intro, the main section, a middle part, a second main section similar to the first, and an outro. Many early dubstep recordings have one or more “bass drops,” a drum and bass-inspired feature. Typically, the percussion will pause, bringing the music to a stop, and then begin with more intensity, accompanied by prominent sub-bass.