· By Jay Bhalala
Unveiling the Key Components of Jungle Music
Jungle music has experienced a significant resurgence in recent years, reclaiming its distinct place in the realm of Drum and Bass. While it may have taken a back seat to other evolving forms of the genre, the unique elements of jungle music continue to captivate listeners. Exploring the roots of jungle reveals a sound quite distinct from its contemporary counterparts, yet its recognizable characteristics make it easily distinguishable. With the advent of sample packs, live samples, and synthesizers, producers can seamlessly blend various elements, resulting in a sound that is both diverse and unique.
Jungle music, though not strictly formulaic, has defining features that set it apart. One of these defining characteristics is the manipulation of breaks throughout the track, breaking up the flow and contributing to the dynamic pace. While jungle music has evolved, certain breaks, have maintained their prominence for over 25 years, preserving the authentic jungle feel. This article delves into the essential elements that categorize the distinctive sound of jungle music.
Breaks: The heart of jungle music lies in its breaks. Originating from The Winstons, this 5.2-second drum break has been sampled extensively, providing a foundation for many jungle tracks. While often chopped and rearranged, the unmistakable sound of the Amen break remains a constant presence. The Apache break also contributes to the classic jungle sound, showcasing the genre's reliance on historical samples rather than programmed drum patterns.
Bass: Bass is integral to jungle music, with the iconic 808 bass playing a pivotal role in shaping the genre. Initially designed by the Roland TR-808, this bass delivers a powerful, chest-thumping sound that became synonymous with jungle. As jungle producers explored the versatility of the 808 kick, it evolved into polyrhythmic patterns, sometimes standing alone accompanied only by breaks and sound effects. The evolution of bass in jungle music includes the distinctive Reese bassline, characterized by its rising and falling pattern, embodying the mid to late sound of the genre.
Vocals: Reggae and ragga vocals add variety to jungle music, reflecting the heavy Jamaican influence on its early development. The incorporation of dancehall elements, including reggae guitar riffs and lyrics focused on cannabis, contributes to the unique character of jungle. The prominence of MC-focused vocals distinguishes jungle tracks, often featuring reggae-style vocals or samples from old reggae songs.
Melody: Jungle music exhibits a melodic quality, influenced by reggae and dancehall sounds. While other forms of Drum and Bass, such as liquid, also embrace melody, jungle's distinctive groove sets it apart. The slower tempo of jungle music necessitates a greater emphasis on melody, with even basslines contributing to the overall melodic structure.
Jungle Music Is A Vibe: Beyond its individual components, jungle music is a vibe that transcends strict categorization. Fluid and dynamic, jungle can be defined by any combination of its core elements. Contrary to the notion that vocals are a prerequisite for a jungle track, the essence of jungle lies in its ability to evoke a distinct vibe that compels people to dance. As producers continue to recreate and develop the style, the timeless vibe of jungle music persists into the modern era.