2-step garage, or simply 2-step, is a typically British style of modern electronic dance music, and a relatively popular subgenre of UK Garage.
One of the primary characteristics of the 2-step sound - the term being coined to describe "a general rubric for all kinds of jittery, irregular rhythms that don't conform to garage's traditional 4-to-the-floor pulse" - is that the rhythm lacks the kick drum pattern found in many other styles of electronic music with a regular four-to-the-floor beat. A typical 2-step drum pattern features a kick on the first and third beat, with a shuffled rhythm or the use of triplets applied to other elements of the percussion, creating a "lurching, falter-funk feel", and resulting in a beat distinctly different from that present in other house or techno. Although tracks with only two kick drum beats to a bar are perceived as being slower than the traditional four-to-the-floor beat, the listener's interest is maintained by the introduction of unusual snare placements and accents in the drum patterns, or scattered rimshots and woodblocks, as well as syncopated basslines and the percussive use of other instruments such as pads and strings.
Instrumentation usually includes keyboards, synthesizers, and drum machines. Other instruments added to expand the musical palette include guitar, piano and horns; these additions are almost always sampled. The primarily synth-based basslines used in 2-step are similar to those in the style's progenitors such as UK garage and before that, drum and bass and jungle, but influences from funk and soul music can also be heard. Vocals in 2-step garage are usually female, and similar to the style prevalent in house music or contemporary R&B. Some 2-step producers also process and cut up elements of an a cappella vocal and use it as an element of the track. Much like other genres derived from UK garage, MCs are often featured, particularly in a live context, with a vocal style reminiscent of oldschool jungle.
Influence from hip hop and drum and bass, particularly the hardstep and techstep subgenres have also been noted by critics. The fact that the scene had a significantly different atmosphere to those that surrounded precursors with less aggression at live events was also noted by some critics.
2-step rose to prominence as a genre on jungle- and garage-based pirate radio stations in London as an evolution of, and perhaps reaction to developments in contemporary genres such as speed garage, with early 2-step shows often airing at "mellow moments in the weekend" such as Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. DJs would mix UK garage productions with those of American house and US garage producers such as Masters at Work and Todd Edwards, pitching up the imports to around 130bpm to aid beatmatching. DJs favoured the instrumental (or 'dub') versions of these tracks, because it was possible to play these versions faster without the vocal element of the track sounding odd. Soon, UK producers began to emulate the sound of these pitched-up, imported records in their own tracks.
As the popularity of the sound spread, nights dedicated to it began to crop up, especially in London. Label owner and dubstep musician Steve Goodman commented on the Hyperdub website on the debut of Forward>>, a highly influential nightclub in 2-step and later derivatives of the "UK hardcore continuum" - a phrase coined by Goodman to sum up the constant evolution in the hardcore/jungle/garage sound, and later adopted by other writers documenting the scene, such as Martin Clark;
"The first set on the first night of Forward, the new depository of the darkstep vibe, sees Sheffield's 2-step pioneer Oris Jay (a.k.a Darqwan) rinsing his unique version of the underground garage sound. 'As We Enta' down the stairs of the Velvet Rooms, the soul of Erykah Badu's 'On and On' is being surgically removed and grafted onto a beat pattern as tightly strung as 70's jazz drummer Billy Cobham on DMT, weighted by a bassline bouncing so heavy that you can't believe that it is only 8:30."
Artful Dodger feat. Craig David
- Rewind (2000)
Excerpt from "Rewind" by Artful Dodger featuring Craig David, a huge crossover hit which fused the 2-step rhythm with R&B vocals.
This excerpt also demonstrates the prevalent use of samples, such as glass breaking and a backspin in this example.
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In 1999 and 2000, 2-step reached the peak of the genre's commercial success. Some critics noted that party organisers favoured 2-step events over nights themed around jungle, drum and bass or other musical precursors because the 2-step nights invited a larger female attendance, and a less aggressive crowd. Much like drum and bass before it, 2-step started to garner crossover appeal, with a collaboration between 2-step producers Artful Dodger and R&B vocalist Craig David reaching #2 in the UK singles chart in 2000.
From 2000 onwards, 2-step as a genre experienced a decline in popularity, but the more experimental releases in the genre from artists such as Horsepower Productions, Zed Bias, Wookie, and Steve Gurley stripped away much of the R&B influence of the genre. This style took on a number of names including 'dark 2-step', 'nu dark swing', and the more general term 'dark garage'. This style became a major influence on later styles of UK garage influenced music, such as grime, as well as becoming a direct precursor to dubstep, which took the emphasis on bass and the instrumental nature of later 2-step compositions to their logical conclusion. In 2006, this latter, more experimental style experienced a resurgence in interest, due to the release of the "Roots of Dubstep" compilation on Tempa, and producers wishing to revisit the roots of the dubstep sound.
* List of UK garage artists
1. ^ a b c d e f Reynolds, Simon. "Adult hardcore". The Wire (182). www.thewire.co.uk. A transcription of this article is available here as a PDF file.
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5. ^ Goodman, Steve (Originally published: 2000, Archived copy: 3 January 2007). "Hardcore Garage: We bring you the future, the future...". Hyperdub 2Step Garage archive (2000-2005). www.hyperdub.com. Retrieved 23 October 2008. An archived copy of this article may be found here
6. ^ a b Clark, Martin (23 August 2006). "The Month In: Grime/Dubstep". Pitchfork Media. www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/38063/the-month-in-grime-dubstep. Retrieved 11 December 2008.
7. ^ Goodman, Steve (January 2007). "21st Century Skank: The haunting of UK Garage". Deuce magazine. www.hyperdub.net. A transcription of this article is available here..
8. ^ a b "The Primer: Dubstep". The Wire (279). www.thewire.co.uk/current/index.php.
9. ^ Eshun, Kodwo (Originally published: 2000, Archived copy: 3 January 2007). "Wookie: Civilization and its Discos - Part 1". Hyperdub 2Step Garage archive (2000-2005). www.hyperdub.com. Retrieved 19 October 2008. An archived copy of this article may be found here
10. ^ a b Clark, Martin (12 April 2006). "The Month In: Grime/Dubstep". Pitchfork Media. www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/31249/Column_Column_The_Month_in_Grime_Dubstep. Retrieved 11 December 2008.
11. ^ de Wilde, Gervase (2006-10-14). "Put a bit of dub in your step: a new form of dance music from Croydon is ready to conquer the world". The Daily Telegraph. www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml.
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