Break

In popular music, a break is an instrumental or percussion section or interlude during a song derived from or related to stop-time – being a ‘break’ from the main parts of the song or piece. A solo break in jazz occurs when the rhythm section stops playing behind a soloist for a brief period, usually two or four bars leading into the soloist’s first chorus. In DJ parlance, a break is where all elements of a song (e.g., pads, basslines, vocals), except for percussion, disappear for a time. This is distinguished from a breakdown, a section where the composition is deliberately deconstructed to minimal elements (usually the percussion or rhythm section with the vocal re-introduced over the minimal backing), all other parts having been gradually or suddenly cut out.

In hip hop and electronica, a short break is also known as a ‘cut,’ and the reintroduction of the full bass line and drums is known as a ‘drop,’ which is sometimes accented by cutting off everything, even the percussion. A break beat is the sampling of breaks as drum loops (beats), originally from soul tracks, and using them as the rhythmic basis for hip hop and rap songs. It was invented by DJ Kool Herc. A particularly innovative style of street dance was created to accompany break beat-based music, and was hence referred to as ‘The Break,’ or break dancing.

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