Glitch hop is an electronic music subgenre that incorporates elements of both electronic dance music (EDM) and hip-hop, with additional elements of “glitch” music. Common production methods used to create sounds in this genre include malfunctioning responses or “glitches” from electronic and digital recording devices. Instead of the polished sound of most EDM music, a more “human,” hand-crafted sound defines this genre. Therefore, this subgenre has a relationship with the lo-fi hip-hop style. The latter incorporates sound elements such as vinyl crackling to create a feeling of nostalgia in tracks.
Glitch hop’s origins trace back to the late 1990s and early 2000s. Machinedrum, Prefuse 73, and Push Button Objects were among the artists and producers that began fusing “glitchy” components with instrumental hip-hop rhythms. By the early 2000s, the genre’s community had grown. By then, it would include famous musicians such as Flying Lotus, the Los Angeles-based rapper.
As the genre’s popularity grew, the focus of the genre shifted from hip-hop to electronic dance music. GRiZ, KOAN Sound, and The Glitch Mob contributed to the transition into the bass-driven sounds of dubstep and electro house. Tipper, a glitch hop musician, might be regarded as the godfather of the genre. As a producer, DJ, and co-founder of Fuel Records, his sound is a continually evolving mix of broken rhythms, weird basslines, and varied tempos. One of the notable releases of this artist is his EP Trilogy of glitch-hop. The series includes the legendary glitch-hop song “Ton Of Brix”. Likewise, The Glitch Mob’s music, because of their White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” remix, is possibly the most widely-heard glitch hop.
The sound of glitch hop
Several aspects contribute to the distinct sound of glitch hop. Mid-tempo rhythms underpin the genre, which typically ranges between 80 and 130 beats per minute (or BPM). With the inclusion of dubstep and electro, its average pace has increased to around 110 to 115 BPM. The rhythm section, usually drums and bass, has a dynamic swing and a modern sound.
As mentioned, the cornerstone of glitch hop are chopped-up, digitally modified sounds that emulate sonic imperfections. Skipping and repeating sounds and phrases, distorted voices and effects, sound quality decrease through bitcrushing, and even the electrical hum of hardware and software have all found their way into the sound of this genre. The genre is very dynamic and blends seamlessly with a wide range of other musical forms. These range from lo-fi, indie, hip-hop, and trap to dubstep and the ambient groove of downtempo.