Riddle: How Is Dubstep Like Picasso?
Although dozens of EDM subgenres are brain candy to me, I haven't personally given in to the auditory assault that is dubstep (mostly... maybe). However, I'm here to say that there is actual science to appreciate behind the work of Skrillex and many others.
Thanks, Internet, for all you do.
If you think about it, many people argue over EDM's relative worth as much as they once debated (or even still do) the merits of rap music, pop hits or rock and roll. Somebody out there is trying to quantify polka and reggae too, simultaneously.
Regardless, EDM is a growing genre. It's the music of the future, literally. It's made with machines and robotic things that make silver-plated noises. But electric guitars, sitars, mandolins and banjos also all make sounds that involve a combination of integrated technology and talent.
Take the talent away, and there's nothing to hear. Humans, after all, created whatever you just heard. Noted EDM critic Dave Grohl has already said something to that effect last year at the Grammys, this year at SXSW, and probably somewhere again yesterday.
Photo by Marco Torres Dave Grohl: Possibly not the biggest dubstep fan.
In the most general terms, dubstep is the harmonically dissonant and deviant sound whose popularity took hold in London during the '00s and quickly spread around the world. Today it's the most popular form of EDM, and although many people are as quick to dismiss it as I might want to be, still others love it.
Dubstep has since developed into many subgenres, including the American-bred "brostep" developed by the DJ and producer Skrillex. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the older form of dubstep is more rooted in reggae and dub music, and is actually quite chill. But both types of dubstep engage in syncopation, a big word meaning the placement of rhythmic accents or stresses where they typically don't occur.
Syncopation ranges from somewhat simple to relatively complex, but it always involves calculation and is never random. It is, in fact, fundamental to many other genres of music, such as jazz, funk, reggae, hip-hop, metal, samba and ska. (I still like ska, even silly third-wave ska, though many see that as an annoying '90s fad.)
I'm thinking that dubstep has more of a pop future than ska once did, not only because it's the sound of the future and all that, but because it has shown more room for development beyond even what it has already become.