Introduction to Trip Hop (Electronic Music Genre)

AUD210 Week1: Electronic Music Genre

When I was younger, I got introduced into the band Portishead. Naturally as I have always been into ambient and psychedelic rock music, Portishead instantly become some of my favourite music groups. Since then, they have also opened the door into their most prominent music style, Trip-hop, as well as various other electronic genres.


Trip-hop originated in the early 1990s in the United Kingdom, particularly in Bristol, in the wave of British hip hop movement, sometimes also termed as “the Bristol Sound”. The genre reached its first mainstream breakthrough by the British band “Massive Attack” with their first album Blue Lines. Together with Tricky and Portishead, they pioneered this genre and quickly become some of the best European alternative choice in the late 90s.


This genre is a style of dance music described as a fusion of hip-hop and electronica. The music can be highly experimental, that may incorporate elements of funk, soul, dub reggae and all sorts of other forms of electronic music, but often with a softer, more ambient sounds. Trip-hop songs are usually slow in tempo, with bass-heavy drumbeat, often emulating the slowed down breakbeat samples typical of hip hop in the 1990s. The other important musical aesthetics that contributes to its ethereal psychedelic sound is the common feature of female vocals although they can also be instrumental. Other common musical elements include smooth synths, jazzy harmony, the feature of string or brass sections and other electronic music elements such as sampling.


One of the best example of Trip hop is Numb by Portishead. The song is one the singles featured in Portihead’s debut album Dummy in 1994 which won them a place on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The song features a lot of common Trip hop feature as mentioned above such as downtempo breakbeats, sampling, ethereal female vocals and smooth synths with influences from hip hop and electronica music.

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