Gabber is a style of electronic music
Electronic music
Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments and electronic music technology in its production. In general a distinction can be made between sound produced using electromechanical means and that produced using electronic technology. Examples of electromechanical sound...

 and a subgenre of hardcore techno
Hardcore techno
Hardcore techno is a type of electronic music typified by the rhythmic use of distorted and atonal industrial-like beats and samples...

. "Gabber" is a slang word of Yiddish origin (cf. chaver) that means "mate
Mate (colloquialism)
Mate is a colloquialism used to refer to a friend and is commonly used in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It is or has been used interchangeably with many equivalent terms, such as buddy , pal or bro . It is sometimes abbreviated to M8..-Origin:Mate is a colloquialism...

", "buddy" or "friend".

The music got its name from an article in which the Amsterdam DJ K.C. the Funkaholic was asked how he felt about the harder Rotterdam house scene. He answered "They're just a bunch of gabbers having fun". DJ Paul Elstak
DJ Paul Elstak
DJ Paul Elstak is a Dutch hardcore/gabber and happy hardcore DJ and record producer...

 from Rotterdam read this article and on the first Euromasters record (released through Rotterdam Records), he engraved in the vinyl "Gabber zijn is geen schande!" translating as "it's not a sin to be a gabber!". The word gained popularity in the Rotterdam house scene and people started to call themselves 'gabbers'.

Although a house variant from Detroit reached Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 in the late 1980s, it was the producers and DJs from Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

 who evolved it into a harder house variant which is today known as "Gabber".

The specific sound of Rotterdam was also created as a reaction to the house scene of Amsterdam which was seen as "snobby and pretentious". Though house tracks from Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

'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 Gabber. The essence of the gabber sound is a distorted bass drum
Bass drum
Bass drums are percussion instruments that can vary in size and are used in several musical genres. Three major types of bass drums can be distinguished. The type usually seen or heard in orchestral, ensemble or concert band music is the orchestral, or concert bass drum . It is the largest drum of...

 sound, overdriven to the point where it becomes clipped into a distorted square wave
Square wave
A square wave is a kind of non-sinusoidal waveform, most typically encountered in electronics and signal processing. An ideal square wave alternates regularly and instantaneously between two levels...

 and makes a recognizably melodic tone.

Often the Roland Alpha Juno
Roland Juno-106
The Roland Juno-106 was a hybrid digital/analogue polyphonic synth manufactured by Roland Corporation in 1984. It featured Digitally controlled oscillators for tuning stability and digital envelope generation along with analog filters and signal path....

 or the kick from a Roland TR-909
Roland TR-909
The Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer is a partially analog, partially sample-based drum machine built by the Japanese Roland Corporation in 1983. The brainchild of Tadao Kikumoto, the engineer behind the Roland TB-303, it features a 16-step step sequencer and a drum kit that aimed for realism and...

 was used to create this sound. Gabber tracks typically include samples
Sampling (music)
In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song or piece. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music, who physically...

 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 shift
Pitch shift
Pitch shifting is a sound recording technique in which the original pitch of a sound is raised or lowered. Effects units that raise or lower pitch by a pre-designated musical interval are called "pitch shifters" or "pitch benders".-Pitch/time shifting:...

ed, or distorted.

Gabber is popular in many countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. It also has a newfound popularity in urban areas of Australia, particularly in Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 amongst the 'lad' subculture. In Germany, Gabber parties often take place in the Ruhr area, as well as Berlin, Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 and Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...


The origins of the gabber sound

The style was first conceived in the late 1980s, but some claim that it was diluted in 1995 by happy hardcore
Happy hardcore
Happy hardcore, also known as happycore, is a genre of music typified by a very fast tempo , often coupled with solo vocals and sentimental lyrics. Its characteristically 4/4 beat "happy" sound distinguishes it from most other forms of hardcore techno, which tend to be "darker". It is typically in...

 and, for hardcore fans, by commercialization which resulted in a younger crowd being attracted to the scene. The commercial organization ID&T
ID&T is a Dutch entertainment and medium enterprise that was founded in the early 1990s.ID&T stands for the initials of three founders of the company, Irfan, Duncan and Theo, all residents of Amsterdam...

 helped to make the music popular by organizing parties (most notable are the Thundredome 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
Industrial music
Industrial music is a style of experimental music that draws on transgressive and provocative themes. The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by the band Throbbing Gristle, and the creation of the slogan "industrial music for industrial people". In general, the...


Mainstream hardcore

There was a somewhat decisive split in the hardcore scene starting in the late 1990s. Some producers started embracing a slower style characterized by a deeper, harder bass drum that typically had a longer envelope than was possible in the traditional, faster style. This newer sound was referred to as "Mainstream" and "New Style" and as the tempo got slower and slower it began to become similar to hard house. Many hardcore enthusiasts hated hard house and the club
A nightclub is an entertainment venue which usually operates late into the night...

 scene it typified, and frequently DJs would be booed by one group of fans and cheered for by another at the same party, depending on the tempo and style of music they were playing. This is similar to the rivalry and mutual dislike that surfaced earlier between fans of "regular" hardcore and happy hardcore. Eventually the two styles met in the middle, and most gabber today is produced in a range of 160-180 bpm. This style is typically a bit slower than the Rotterdam style of the mid-1990s.


Gabber is characterized by its bass drum sound. Essentially, it comes from taking a normal synthesized bass drum and over-driving 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
Hoover sound
Hoover sound refers to a particular synthesizer sound in electronic music, commonly used in Hard House music and other styles. Originally called the "Mentasm" or "Dominator", the name that stuck was the one likening the sound to that of a vacuum cleaner.-The sound:The Hoover is a complex waveform...

", a patch of the Roland Alpha Juno
Roland Alpha Juno
The Roland Alpha Juno series of keyboards were analog polyphonic synthesizers with digitally controlled oscillators manufactured by Roland Corporation in 1985....

 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 gabber tracks often apply extremely fast hoover-patterns. The use of the hoover has evolved over the years, and in Nu Style Gabber, most tracks rely on a cleaner, detuned supersaw lead, similar to trance.

The aforementioned two sub-genres of gabber differ in essentially one thing: the tempo.
  • Old school 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.
  • Mainstream hardcore, formally known as Nu style gabber, slows the speed down, but extends the length of the bass drum so the bass-frequency resonance keeps on longer. In this aspect, this new form of gabber obviously cannot be considered less powerful than its precursor. Often melodic, the beats are divided into triplets and synth notes are played in a short, staccato
    Staccato is a form of musical articulation. In modern notation it signifies a note of shortened duration and separated from the note that may follow by silence...

    -like fashion, giving the song a march-like feel.
  • Industrial hardcore influenced by industrial music, characterized by harsh beats. This style is closely related to Mainstream hardcore.

Recent developments

In the 2000s, some producers produced neither Nu Style or oldschool gabber. They focused again on speed, with tracks normally go over 200 bpm. Subgenres have developed where scenes exhibit certain musical traits and are mainly defined by their kick drum sound. These subgenres include:
  • Terrorcore uses same highly distorted kick drum as gabber. Tracks are normally minimalistic and non-melodic, and the themes are normally highly aggressive. Artists include DJ Plague, Noisekick, m1dy, DJ Chucky, Dj Smurf, Superius and Paperboyz & Psybermind.

  • UK Gabber removes the distortion from the kick drum, in favour of a more natural heavy reverb sound, which is usually affected by a filter. There's usually influence from breakcore
    Breakcore is a style of electronic music largely influenced by hardcore techno, drum and bass and Intelligent dance music. Its sound is largely characterized by a high-tempo, well-timed mingling of distorted kick drums , break beats arranged from samples of the Amen break, and audio samples from a...

    , which uses distorted breaks over the 4/4 kick, and a lot of tracks have ambient sounds and a progressive feel. Artists include Hellfish, DJ Producer, Bryan Fury, Deathmachine, Teknoist, and Scott Brown
    Scott Brown (DJ)
    Scott Alexander Brown is a Glasgow-born Scottish DJ and music producer, now living in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Brown produces and plays a variety of genres commonly called rave. Although he is most associated with bouncy techno, his music ranges from happy hardcore, through hard trance, to...

    . Occasionally, UK Hardcore
    UK hardcore
    UK Hardcore is a broad term to describe the evolved sound of Happy Hardcore Rave music which emerged around the end of the 1990s and grew in strength during the 21st century...

     producers try their hand at producing UK Gabber, such as Gammer
    Gammer is a UK hardcore and Hard Dance producer and DJ.Gammer made his first appearance in the Hardcore scene during 2002 and since he has gone on to be a very successful and prolific producer, being best known for his extensive discography on the revamped Essential Platinum label...

     and Brisk & Vagabond. Some UK Hardcore producers also like to put small sections of gabber within their tracks. Fans of this include Hixxy
    Hixxy or DJ Hixxy, born Ian Hicks, is a British UK Hardcore and previously happy hardcore DJ and musician from Portsmouth, England....

     and Re-Con. Other UK Gabber artists such as the 'Gabba Surgeons' draw from a whole myriad of genres including drum & bass, electro and house.

  • Speedcore
    Speedcore is a form of hardcore techno that is characterized by a high rate of beats per minute and aggressive themes. The name originates from the high BPM rate, which rarely drops below 300 BPM. Earlier Speedcore tracks averaged at about 250 BPM, whereas more recent tracks sometimes exceed 1000 BPM...

    - A faster type of gabber usually 300 bpm or faster. The term "splittercore" is usually used for speedcore tracks of 500-900 bpm. The term "extratone" is used for tracks of over 1000 bpm; though the usefulness of this distinction is debatable due to the capacity of human ears to detect the differences in such high beats per minute.

  • Cybergrind is a mixture of Gabber and Grindcore
    Grindcore is an extreme genre of music that started in the early- to mid-1980s. It draws inspiration from some of the most abrasive music genres – including death metal, industrial music, noise and the more extreme varieties of hardcore punk....

    , performed by The Berzerker
    The Berzerker
    The Berzerker was an extreme metal band from Melbourne, Australia and was formed in 1995. The band's music, heavily influenced by older death metal and grindcore, can be characterized as a fusion of these with speedcore, and gabber...



In the early 1990s, gabber gained a following in the neo-fascist
Neo-fascism is a post–World War II ideology that includes significant elements of fascism. The term neo-fascist may apply to groups that express a specific admiration for Benito Mussolini and Italian Fascism or any other fascist leader/state...

 rave scenes of Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and the American Midwest
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

. However, most gabber fans do not belong to the aforementioned groups, and many producers have released tracks that vocally speak out against racism. In addition, many prominent gabber DJs and producers are not white; examples include The Viper, Nexes, Bass-D, Loftgroover, DJ Gizmo, The Darkraver, Bass Technician and HMS.

Record labels

  • Deathchant Records
  • Enzyme Records
    Enzyme Records
    Enzyme Records is a Netherlands-based hardcore record label. Founded in 2001 by Patrick van Kerckhoven as a continuation of Kerckhoven's previous labels, Gangsta Audiovisuals and Supreme Intelligence Records, to 'restart' his labels and continue in a new style of hardcore without being drowned in...

  • ID&T
    ID&T is a Dutch entertainment and medium enterprise that was founded in the early 1990s.ID&T stands for the initials of three founders of the company, Irfan, Duncan and Theo, all residents of Amsterdam...

  • Masters of Hardcore
    Masters of Hardcore
    Masters of Hardcore is currently the biggest and best-known independent gabber music record label.Founded in 1995 in Zaandam, Netherlands, MOH was set out to revive the then stagnating gabber scene, which was considered watered down and blending into other "non-purist" genres like happy hardcore...

  • Motormouth Recordz
  • Mokum Records
    Mokum Records
    Mokum Records is a Dutch independent record label specialising in gabber and hardcore techno releases. They have released about 100 single and EP vinyl records between 1993 and 1999...

  • Neophyte Records
  • Psychic Genocide
  • Rebelscum
  • Rotterdam Records
    Rotterdam Records
    Rotterdam records is a Dutch record label.After almost 10 years of dedication and hard work Paul Elstak decided to quit at Mid-Town Records to start his own label Offensive Records at Rige Entertainment....

  • Horror Decibel
  • Strike Records
  • The Third Movement
  • Traxtorm Records
  • Canadian Speedcore Resistance
  • K.N.O.R. Records
  • Cenobite Records
  • Ruffneck Records
  • Babyboom Records
  • Terror Traxx
  • Industrial Strength Records
  • Pengo Records
  • Forze Records
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