Dubstep is an exciting genre of heavy bass modern electronic music, largely defined by half-tempo rhythms, a 'drop' focussed arrangement, and huge sub-bass.
Inspired by a combination of classic reggae and dub, dubstep blends these grooves with the sound of modern electronic music and digital production techniques.
Dubstep tracks are typically produced at 140 bpm, although this can also be interpreted as 70 bpm. You can find some slight variation in the speed of dubstep, anywhere from 130 to 150 bpm.
Because dubstep is so commonly made at this tempo, the genre is also often called '140' by people in the community.
In this guide, you'll learn a bit about the history of dubstep, why it's 140 bpm, how to measure the speed of songs, and how to mix dubstep using DJ.Studio.
While you're reading, listen to this Dubstep Mix Created Entirely In DJ.Studio!
TL;DR - What is the BPM for Dubstep?#
Dubstep is usually made at 140 bpm, and is defined by heavy basses, drops, and swinging grooves.
Because dubstep tracks have a half-time feel, they can also be measured as 70 bpm.
DJ.Studio makes it fun and easy to mix dubstep with an enhanced level of expression.
What Is Dubstep? Defining Features and Facts#
Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in the late 1990s in London. This 'bass music' is known for its heavy, often distorted basslines, syncopated rhythms, and a focus on sub-bass frequencies.
Dubstep music typically features a half-tempo beat pattern, with a strong emphasis on the "drop," where the track undergoes a dramatic shift in sound, often marked by intense bass wobbles and intricate sound design. The arrangement revolves around a tense build-up to an exciting and impactful "chorus" of heavy bass.
As for the beat pattern, typically dubstep producers place the snare hit on the third beat in the bar. The hi-hats and lighter drums are often aligned in triplet percussion arrangements, which makes a unique swing to the groove.
The genre gained significant popularity and recognition during the early to mid-2000s, with artists like Skream, Benga, and Digital Mystikz playing pivotal roles in its development. Dubstep's sound and style have evolved over time, with various subgenres and influences from other electronic music genres, such as drum and bass, garage, and house, shaping its evolution.
These days, the modern dubstep scene revolves around a more aggressive sound, influenced by artists like Skrillex.
Dubstep has had a substantial impact on the broader electronic music landscape and has influenced the production and sound design of many other genres. It has also inspired a vibrant global community of producers, DJs, and fans.
What is the BPM For Dubstep#
Music in the dubstep genre typically revolves around 140 bpm.
However, it's important to note that dubstep often features complex rhythms, syncopations, and half-time patterns, which can give the impression of a slower tempo even though the BPM might be higher.
Additionally, there is a range of variations within the genre, and some dubstep tracks might have slightly faster or slower tempos. For example, some melodic dubstep comes closer to 135 bpm, while other dubstep rhythms come as fast as 150 bpm.
It's also worth noting that the speed of 140 can also be measured as 70 bpm. This doesn't mean that 70 bpm music is slower, it just means the beats are counted in a different place.
Say, at 140 bpm, the snare falls on the third beat of a bar. However you could look at the same song as 70 bpm, and instead, the snares would fall on the 2nd and 4th beats.
You should also know that the dubstep genre has evolved and incorporated influences from other electronic music styles, there can be variations in tempo and rhythm that go beyond the traditional 140 BPM.
Genre-Defining Dubstep Songs (and their BPM)#
Several songs are often cited as genre-defining or influential within the dubstep genre.
These tracks played a significant role in shaping the sound and popularity of dubstep. Here are a few notable examples:
Skream - "Midnight Request Line" (2005): Widely regarded as one of the foundational tracks of dubstep, "Midnight Request Line" by Skream helped establish the genre's distinct bass-heavy sound and contributed to dubstep's rise in popularity.
Benga & Coki - "Night" (2007): This dubstep song, often referred to as "Coki - 'SpongeBob'," is another pivotal piece that exemplifies the deep and gritty bass lines that became characteristic of dubstep. It's known for its unique wobbly bass sound.
Rusko - "Cockney Thug" (2008): "Cockney Thug" by Rusko is recognized for its energetic and playful approach to dubstep, featuring a catchy melody, heavy bass drops, and dynamic production techniques.
Skream - "Rutten" (2010): Another influential work by Skream, "Rutten" showcases the evolving sound of dubstep with its combination of heavy bass and intricate production elements.
Nero - "Innocence" (2010): This dubstep track by Nero incorporates dubstep elements into a larger electronic music context, blending melodic vocals with powerful bass drops, helping to popularize the genre even further.
Skrillex - "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" (2010): Skrillex's breakthrough track played a crucial role in bringing dubstep to a wider audience, featuring a more aggressive and intense sound while still adhering to dubstep's core elements.
Zeds Dead - "Adrenaline" (2011): Zeds Dead's "Adrenaline" is known for its innovative use of heavy bass, dynamic drops, and intricate rhythm patterns.
Knife Party - "Centipede" (2012): While incorporating elements of several electronic genres, "Centipede" by Knife Party contributed to the evolving sound of dubstep with its powerful drops and energetic production.
Skrillex - "Bangarang" (2012): Another hit by Skrillex, "Bangarang" features a blend of dubstep, electro, and other styles, showcasing the genre's ability to cross over into mainstream consciousness.
Virtual Riot - "Energy Drink" (2013): This track by Virtual Riot is celebrated for its intricate sound design, showcasing the more experimental and complex side of dubstep production.
These tracks represent just a snapshot of dubstep's evolution and influence. The genre has continued to evolve and diversify since its inception, with many more artists and songs contributing to its rich history.
BPM Speeds Of Different Genres#
This list shows the common BPMs of other musical genres. You can also find out more details about EDM BPM Speeds in our other guide.
Drum and Bass
Around 140 BPM (but with complex rhythms)
How To Mix Dubstep in DJ.Studio - Dubstep Mixing Tips#
DJ.Studio makes it super easy to start mixing dubstep tracks, even if you have no DJing experience. This section explains how you can start making perfect dubstep mixes instantly.
Build a library of music - in this case, you'll be wanting to collect a bunch of different dubstep tracks to mix in a set. Some of the examples above are a great place to start. Or check out this dubstep playlist
Create a new set - In DJ.Studio you can either create local file mixes or online sets. If you have a lot of downloaded music, then choose the Local File mode, if you want to mix tracks from YouTube, choose the Online mode.
Build a playlist - Next, you need to select a bunch of tracks that you want to mix together. You could use a certain style of dubstep, or just mix whatever type you fancy.
If you made a YouTube project, you can enter the playlist mentioned above in the add tracks wizard to get the tracks immediately added to their mix, so you can get started immediately.
Automix - Click the automix button and let DJ.Studio work its magic. It automatically assesses the key and bpm of your tracks and works out the best order based on the analysis, you can choose a preference for either harmonic mixing or beat matching. Now, DJ.Studio will beat-match, and create automatic transitions for your set, instantly creating a fairly smooth mix.
Tweak your mix - Next, you should spend a bit of time fine-tuning the mix, This could involve changing the order of tracks, changing the placements of start and end points, and adding expressive automation.
Refine Transitions - DJ.Studio automatically applies a smooth volume crossfade as a transition between each of your tracks. Obviously, you might want to pick something different. Start off by looking through the preset transitions, - often instant types like bass swaps and hard cuts work well for dubstep, but it's up to you. After this, you might consider making some manual transitions, where you can draw in the automation parameters with incredible detail on the automation line.
Check your mix - Before you export, you should listen through your set to make sure you are happy with it! I try to make sure that there are no clashing bass lines, and that transitions feel smooth and flowing.
Record and export - The last stage is recording and exporting your mix. You can export sets to a wide range of locations from DJ.Studio - including youtube videos, or Ableton multi-track.
You can see how quick and easy DJ.Studio makes the mix creation process. You no longer need to worry about working out the best order, analyzing keys and tempos, beat matching - and the fiddly and risky recording process.
You don't need to worry about making a mistake and having to rerecord your mix (or release it with the mistakes in). You can very quickly create super professional-sounding mixes that work as the perfect online promotion tool.
Even more exciting is the fact that DJ.Studio can create audio-reactive visuals! This is the perfect hypnotic accompaniment to your dubstep mixes, which you can upload to youtube and grow your audience! This DJ trick can make a huge difference to the success of your online DJ sets.
How to Work Out the BPM of a Song#
Sometimes, the BPM of a dubstep track might not be 140 BPM. This section explains how you can work out the BPM of a track.
There are a couple of different methods and tools for working out the BPM of a track. Here are a few approaches you can use:
Manual Tapping: (hard)
Listen to the song and tap your foot or finger in time with the beat.
Count the number of taps in a 15-second interval.
Multiply the count by 4 to get the BPM. This works because there are 60 seconds in a minute, and 4 sets of 15 seconds make a minute.
Online BPM Counters: (medium)
There are various online tools and websites where you can upload or input an audio file, and the tool will analyze the BPM for you. Online BPM Counter.
BPM Detection Software: (easy)
There are software applications designed specifically to detect the BPM of audio tracks. These programs often provide more accurate results than manual tapping. For example, DJ.Studio automatically analyses all the tracks you import into the library and accurately displays the tempo.
Remember that BPM detection tools might not always be 100% accurate, especially for songs with complex rhythms or tempo changes. It's a good idea to use multiple methods to cross-check and ensure the accuracy of your BPM determination.
Additionally, if you're a musician or producer working with a song, most digital audio workstations, and music software have BPM analysis and adjustment features, which can help you align your own musical elements with the song's tempo. Check out our full guide on How To Find Song BPMs for more info.
Dubstep is a fun genre to mix, so now that you know the bpm - you should start making some dubstep mixes of your own - or start prepping a set for your next club or beach bar gig.
You can start using DJ.Studio for free today, to access a powerful and revolutionary mixing interface which is a powerful tool for mixing dubstep.
A really handy feature is the ability to mix with music from YouTube, so it combines the discovery and mix creation processes into one piece of software. You can find new dubstep beats to experiment with and test them out in a set from YouTube before you buy them.
FAQs About Dubstep BPM
- Is dubstep 140 or 70 bpm?
- Why is dubstep 140 and not 70 bpm?
- What BPM is EDM?
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Transitions are vital to keep your audience in the groove and let the beats flow naturally. Blending can be hard to master, but this article will explain it.