What Is Dubstep?

The topic of today’s entry is not dubstep. It is, as the title claims, “what is dubstep?” I write here not to explain dubstep to you, but to ask you to explain to me what dubstep is all about. It seems to be such a mysterious — and widely regarded as troll — entity that I feel it only appropriate to bring it up on the April Fools week.

The first time I heard of dubstep was when a person I vaguely know began talking about it and linking it with music theory in some obscure way that I didn’t bother reading more. And from then on, it seemed dubstep emerged as a topic all over the place. People mentioned its existence in songs, and I “heard” dubstep for the first time in Lindsey Stirling, though I admit I didn’t hear a thing that could be regarded as dubstep, or even worthy of mention.

It seems to me, in my uneducated ear, that dubstep comprises of some drum beat pattern that has the power to irritate a select group of people. Maybe Japanese music lacks dubstep, or maybe Japanese music has too many beats similar to dubstep. Either way, it sounded so normal and essential in every tune to me that I don’t see why people want to define it this way.

But it may just be that I was listening to the wrong thing at the time. It may simply be that the drum was indeed different, but I was too wrapped up in the violin chord or the guitar riff or something. Knowing me, it is quite likely. I may have musical instincts, but they seem very much focused on vocals. I can detect nuances in vocals, but when you ask me about identifying instruments, I produce sub-par results. I took a few months to find out the difference between an acoustic and an electric guitar, and never do notice when instruments appear or disappear in a song.

So maybe dubstep is a thing of musicians. But let me tell you a little history of dubstep. It originated in the south of London in the late 1990’s. Nowadays dubstep isn’t pure dubstep anymore, but it’s fused with other elements to produce results such as future garage, a slower and more experimental post-dubstep and brostep, which was influenced by electro-house and heavy metal. Brostep greatly influenced dubstep’s popularity in the USA too. Goodness, genres and I do not get along. Electro-house would, I suppose, be a mixture of electronica and house, but what is house, and why do all these genres blend together so often anyway? But this is a perennial question which no answer can satisfy me.

For fans of dubstep out there, some of you may know of prominent dubstep musicians like Skream and Skrillex, or ones that I don’t know of at all, such as The Gaslamp Killer and Horsepower Productions. Most of the listed musicians aren’t commercial stars, so dubstep can’t be all that popular, and therefore I’m not so much behind the times not knowing about it.

That said, I would always appreciate new knowledge in this field, as long as I don’t need to be forced to listen to too much electronica or metal.


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