For other meanings of gabber, see gabber (disambiguation). For the hardcore music in the 2000s, see Mainstream hardcore.

Gabber (also Gabber house) (/ˈɡæbər/; from Dutch: [ˈxɑbər]) is a style of electronic music and a subgenre of hardcore techno.[1]

Although a house variant from Detroit, gabber music reached Amsterdam in the late 1980s,[2] and it was the producers and DJs from Rotterdam in the early 1990s who evolved it into a harder house variant which is today known as "gabber".[3]

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'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 early hardcore. The essence of the early hardcore sound is a distorted bass drum sample, overdriven to the point where it becomes clipped into a distorted square wave and makes a recognizably melodic tone.

Often the Roland Alpha Juno or the kick from a Roland TR-909 was used to create this sound. Early hardcore tracks typically include samples and synthesised melodies with the typical tempo ranging from 150 to over 200 bpm.[4] Violence, drugs and profanity are common themes in early hardcore, perceptible through its samples and lyrics, often screamed, pitch shifted or distorted.

Early hardcore was popular in many countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. In the late 1990s, it became less popular than the emerging early hardcore-influenced hardstyle. After surviving underground for a number of years, in 2002 the style reappeared in the Netherlands in a new form, mainstream hardcore. The sound became more commercial, dark and industrial.


The style is derived from the acid house and techno house styles from the late 1980s, but many within the core scene claim that it was diluted by 1995, mainly because of a mainstream variant called happy hardcore and, for hardcore fans, because of commercialization which resulted in a younger crowd being attracted to the scene. The commercial organization ID&T helped to make the music popular by organizing parties (most notable are the Thunderdome parties) and selling merchandise. The name "gabber" is used somewhat less currently to describe this music style, especially due to the stigma created in the mid 1990s.

Gabber (/ˈɡæbər/; Dutch: [ˈɣɑbər]) is an Amsterdam Bargoens slang (derived from Yiddish chaver) that means "mate", "buddy", "pal" or "friend".[5] The music got its name from an article in which Amsterdam DJ K.C. the Funkaholic was asked how he felt about the harder Rotterdam house music scene. He's supposed to have answered "They're just a bunch of gabbers having fun". DJ Paul Elstak from Rotterdam read this article and on the first Euromasters record (released through Rotterdam Records in 1992), he engraved in the vinyl "Gabber zijn is geen schande!" translating as "It's not a disgrace to be a gabber!".[6] The word gained popularity in the Rotterdam house scene and people started to call themselves 'gabbers'.[7]


The most commonly used logo for early hardcore

Early hardcore 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 early hardcore tracks is the "hoover", a patch of the Roland Alpha Juno synthesizer. A hoover is typically a distorted, grainy, sweeping sound which, when played in a low register, can create a dark and brooding bass line. Alternatively, when played at higher pitches, the hoover becomes an aggressive, shrieking lead. Faster early hardcore tracks often apply extremely fast hoover-patterns.


In the early 1990s, early hardcore gained a following in the neo-fascist rave scenes of the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the American Midwest.[8] However, most early hardcore fans do not belong to the aforementioned groups, and many producers have released tracks that vocally speak out against racism.[9] In addition, many prominent early hardcore DJs and producers are not white; examples include The Viper, The Darkraver, Gizmo, Bass-D, Nexes, Loftgroover, Dark Twins, Bass Technician, MC Raw (of Rotterdam Terror Corps) and HMS.

Notable record labels

See also


  1. "Hardcore History: Introducing Hardcore Techno". Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  2. Detroit techno
  3. "Definition of Gabber". Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  4. "Gabber:The Evil EDM-Big Night Out Episode 1". Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  5. "Hebrew and Yiddish Words in Common Dutch". Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  6. "It’s Not A Disgrace To Be A Gabber!", Boiler Room (8 November 2014)
  7. Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music (4th ed.). Backbeat Books. pp. x. ISBN 978-0879306281.
  8. Silcott, Mireille. Rave America: New School Dance Scapes. (Toronto: ECW Press, 1999), 114-117.
  9. DJ Chosen Few - Chosen Anthem (Against Racism) (MOK 8, Mokum Records 1993); Party Animals feat. MC Rob Gee - Die Nazi Scum (MOK 54, Mokum Records 1996); Hellcore - Fuck the Nazism (BDR-CD-02, Braindestruction Recordz, 2003); United Hardcore Against Racism & Hate - Time to Make a Stand (HUR 001, Hardcore United Records, 2005).

External links

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