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Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in South London, England. It emerged in the late 1990s as a development within a lineage of related styles such as 2-step garage, broken beat, drum and bass, jungle, dub and . In the UK, the origins of the genre can be traced back to the growth of the Jamaican sound system party scene in the early 1980s. The music generally features syncopated drum and percussion patterns with bass lines that contain prominent sub bass frequencies.
The music website Allmusic has described its overall sound as "tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals." According to Simon Reynolds, Dubstep's constituents originally came from "different points in the 1989—99 UK lineage: bleep 'n' bass, jungle, techstep, Photek-style neurofunk, speed garage, [and] 2 step."Reynolds comments that the traces of pre-existing styles "worked through their intrinsic sonic effects but also as signifiers, tokenings-back addressed to those who know".
Dubstep's early roots are in the more experimental releases of UK garage producers, seeking to incorporate elements of drum and bass into the South London-based 2-step garage sound. These experiments often ended up on the B-side of a white label or commercial garage release. Dubstep is generally instrumental. Similar to a vocal garage hybrid – grime – the genre's feel is commonly dark; tracks frequently use a minor key and can feature dissonant harmonies such as the tritone interval within a riff. Other distinguishing features often found are the use of samples, a propulsive, sparse rhythm, and an almost omnipresent sub-bass. Some dubstep artists have also incorporated a variety of outside influences, from dub-influenced techno such as Basic Channel to classical music or metal.
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