||Gabber (IPA pronunciation: English /gæ.bə/, Dutch /xɑbər/), also spelt gabba , is a style of electronic music and a subgenre of hardcore techno. "Gabber" is a Dutch word that literally means "buddy" or "friend". Although in the late 1980s a house variant from Detroit first reached Amsterdam (the Netherlands), it was the producers and DJs from Rotterdam who evolved it into a harder house variant which we today know as "Gabber" style. The specific sound of Rotterdam was also created as a reaction to the house scene of Amsterdam which was seen as more "snobby and pretentious". Though house productions from Frankfurt's Marc Acardipane were quite similar to the Rotterdam style, it was the popularity of this music in the Netherlands which made Rotterdam the cradle of Hardcore Gabber. The essence of the gabber sound is a distorted kick sound, overdriven to the point where it becomes clipped into a distorted square wave and makes a recognizably melodic tone. Often the Roland Alpha Juno or the kick from a Roland TR-909 was used to create this sound. Gabber tracks typically include samples and synthesised melodies with the typical tempo ranging from 150 to 220 bpm. Violence, drugs and profanity are common themes in gabber, perceptible through its samples and lyrics, often screamed, pitch shifted, or distorted. By now Gabber is spread over several countries. Key locations include the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. In Germany, Gabberpartys often take place in the Ruhr area, as well as Berlin, Hamburg, and Frankfurt.
The origins of the gabber sound
In general the track "We Have Arrived" (1990) by Mescalinum United is considered to be the first gabber track. Hardcore/gabber music is a fusion of techno and industrial with a dark, aggressive atmosphere. In the early to mid nineties a clear gabber fashion took form. Between 1993 and 1998 loads of gabber fans dressed in (multiple, layered) tracksuits, Nike Air Max sport shoes (with punctured air chambers), bomber jackets or leather jackets, and the majority of the male gabbers had shaven heads. Female fans often shaved the sides and back of their head and wore their hair in a pony tail.
The style began in the late 1980s, but some claim that it was diluted in 1995 by happy hardcore and, for hardcore fans, by commercialisation which resulted in a younger crowd being attracted to the scene. The commercial organisation ID&T helped a lot in making the music popular by organising parties (most notable are the Thunderdome parties) and selling merchandise. The name gabber is used somewhat less these days to describe this music style, especially due to this stigma created in the mid 1990s. After surviving underground for a number of years, in 2002 the style regained some popularity in the Netherlands, although the sound is more mature, darker and industrial. Around the world, it never lost its original grip, and music was evolving and creating new subgenres and approaches, from Digital Hardcore to Breakcore, from Noisecore to Speedcore.
Gabber is characterised by its bass drum sound. Essentially, it comes from taking a normal synthesized bass drum and overdriving it heavily. The approximately sinusoidal sample starts to clip into a square wave with a falling pitch. This results in a number of effects: the frequency spectrum spreads out, thus achieving a louder, more aggressive sound. It also changes the amplitude envelope of the sound by increasing the sustain. Due to the distortion, the drum also develops a melodic tone. It is not uncommon for the bass drum pattern to change pitch throughout the song to follow the bass line.
The second frequently used component of gabber tracks is the "hoover", a patch of the Roland Alpha Juno synthesizer. A "hoover" is typically a distorted, grainy, sweeping sound which, when played on a low key, can create a dark and brooding bass line. Alternatively, when played at higher pitches, the hoover becomes an aggressive, shrieking lead. Faster gabba tracks often apply extremely fast hoover-patterns. The use of the hoover has evolved over the years, and in the nuskool genre, most tracks rely on a cleaner, detuned supersaw lead, similar to trance.
The aforementioned two subgenres of gabber differ in essentially one thing: the tempo.
* Oldskool gabber, staying true to its mentality, defines "hardness" in speed; tracks rarely go under 180 BPM, and bass drum rolls often go up to a speed where the beats themselves are hardly distinguishable from each other.
* Nuskool gabber, however, slows the speed down to 160 BPM, but extends the length of the bass drum so the bass-frequency resonance keeps on longer. (In this aspect, "nugabber" obviously cannot be considered less powerful than its precursor, although slower hardcore is often less energetic. A typical style is one made best known by Rotterdam Terror Corps: the beats are divided into triplets and all hoover notes are played in a short, staccato-like fashion, giving the song a march-like feel.