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Not to be confused with hardcore techno.

Hardcore punk (usually referred to simply as hardcore) is a punk rock music genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s. Hardcore punk is generally faster, heavier, and more abrasive than regular punk rock. The origin of the term "hardcore punk" is uncertain. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A. may have helped to popularize the term with the title of their 1981 album, Hardcore '81. Hardcore historian Steven Blush said that the term "hardcore" is also a reference to the sense of being "fed up" with the existing punk and new wave music. Blush also states that the term refers to "an extreme: the absolute most Punk." One definition of the genre is "a form of exceptionally harsh punk rock."

In the vein of earlier punk rock, most hardcore punk bands have followed the traditional singer/guitar/bass/drum format. The songwriting has more emphasis on rhythm rather than melody. Critic Steven Blush writes "The Sex Pistols were still rock'n' the craziest version of Chuck Berry. Hardcore was a radical departure from that. It wasn't verse-chorus rock. It dispelled any notion of what songwriting is supposed to be. It's its own form." According to, the overall blueprint for hardcore was playing louder, harder and faster. Hardcore vocalists often shout, scream or chant along with the music. Hardcore vocal lines are often based on minor scales. Hardcore songs may include shouted background vocals from the other band members.

Guitar parts in hardcore can be complex, technically versatile and rhythmically challenging. Guitar melody lines usually use the same minor scales used by vocalists (although some solos use pentatonic scales) Some hardcore punk guitarists play solos, octave leads and grooves, as well as tapping into the various feedback and harmonic noises available to them. The guitar sound is almost always distorted and amplified, creating what has been called a "buzzsaw" sound. Hardcore bassists use varied rhythms in their basslines, ranging from longer held notes (whole notes and half notes) to quarter notes, to rapid eighth note or sixteenth note runs. To play rapid bass lines that would be hard to play with the fingers, some bassists use a pick. Some bassists such as Mike Watt from the Minuteman emphasize a very technical style of bass playing. Some hardcore punk drummers play fast D beat one moment and then drop tempo into elaborate musical breakdowns the next. Drummers typically play eighth notes on the cymbals, because at the tempos used in hardcore it would be difficult to play a smaller subdivision of the beat.

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