Hardstyle is an electronic dance genre, once classified as a sub-genre of Hard trance, it member of the hard dance music family, which mixes influences from hardtechno, hard house, and hardcore. Hardstyle typically consists of a deep, hard-sounding kick drum, intense faded or reversed basslines accompanying the beat, a synth playing a melody, and detuned and distorted sounds. Most early tracks still had characteristics as hard trance. Since, early hard trance were misclassified as early hardstyle, they indistinguishable to each other at one point, however grow into it's own genre through collaborations where the difference were noticable.
Around 1990s to 2001, Hard trance were being experiemented and influenced hardcore and Hard house producers, small changes and tweaks were made such as increasing the amount of reverse bass and the amount of screeches. The exact origin of hardstyle can't be defined unfortunately, as it didn't simply appear out of nowhere, but the result of an evolution and mixture of other genres turned Hard trance to a more pronouced hardstyle, nowadays we call this early hardstyle. As it progressed, it gathered characteristics from other genres such as Hardcore and Hard House and developed the unique reverse bass and was played in the 135-150 BPM range. In a sense, Hardcore producers such as DJ Zany, Lady Dana, DJ Isaac, DJ Pavo, DJ Luna and The Prophet, and external influences like Hard house was mainstream at the time turned Hard trance to Early hardstyle. This also explains the reason why later on, hardstyle BPM (beats per minute) increase slightly (135-150 to 150-160). Some Hardcore producers such as The Prophet brought the reverse bass and screeches back to hardcore gabber sene making hardstyle and hardcore similar nowaday or even indistinguishable in some cases, only differing in BPM.
Around 2005 hardstyle was already defined as a genre of its own and not simply a mix of other styles. It started to gain more euphoric and uplifting melodies and was played at what today we consider the "default BPM" for this genre, 150. Often at times this speed would be surpassed up to 160 beats per minute, still staying within the hardstyle range, but a change of mood in the song to something much more cynical and a much more raised bpm would result in a hardcore track.
It also helped the development of the happier jumpstyle, which some believe to be the direct rival to hardstyle, others a genre that developed from hardstyle and some others think it is a sub-genre of hardstyle. Nonetheless, it is another member of the hard dance family.
As it progressed, we can notice it started splitting in two different styles, or sub-genres: rawstyle, inspired by early hardstyle and euphoric hardstyle, the melodic counterpart which is also known as nustyle or nu-hardstyle. This split is believed to have happened in 2008.
More recently, producers started experimenting and fusing hardstyle with other genres, such as dubstep, creating dubstyle, for the joy of some fans and the anger of others.
As noted before, hardstyle can be split in different styles, depending on the mood, tempo and other characteristics of the track. Each sub genre of hardstyle has inspired the creation of events tailored to each sub genre. With events like Euphoria and the Qapital focusing solely on each one
- Early hardstyle,(1999-2005) also known as oldschool hardstyle. Known for its usage of mostly screeches, reverse bass and maintain most of it's Hard trance origins.
Notable artists (years 2008-2009): Bass Modulatorz, Beat Providerz, Dark Oscillatorz, Showtek, JTS, Headhunterz
- Nustyle - This is the style whereby, modledies and vocals were being introduced through trance influences. It sometimes had harsher, and dark themes to the point it is not called Euphoric hardstyle. It had a less pronouced reverse bass and a introduced a gated kick due to Hardcore influences.
Notable artists (years 2010-2012): Headhunterz, Josh & Wesz, DJ Francesco Zeta, Wildstylez, The Pitcher, Zatox, Wasted penguinz can be accredited to pioneering the "trance" influenced sounds in hardstyle during 2009-12
- Euphoric hardstyle - It is a sub-genre of Nustyle, this is the kind of hardstyle considered the most beautiful (minor melodies (the base of the melody is usually a "sad" chord)). This style is not uncommon to be produced since ~2011. Euphoric hardstyle has become one of the most popular subgenres of hardstyle. Euphoric hardstyle is even more influenced by trance (progressive uplifting trance). In a sense, Nustyle turned "cheesy".
- Rawstyle' - combining influences of hardcore and early hardstyle, with emphases on the usage of raw sounds and kicks. Certain artists decided to focus on a more hardcore influenced sound with heavier distorted kicks and sharper more intense screeches or "dark" melodies. It is also common for rawstyle tracks to contain hip hop vocals and samples
A fusion genre is basically a mix between two or more genres, typically bringing the main traits of each one of them and put up together.
- Dubstyle - as the name implies, it is hardstyle and dubstep, with the groove and tempo of the latter with the kick of the first.
- Tekstyle - hardstyle and tek music, with influences from jumpstyle.
- Hard Bounce - Hardstyle & Hard Dance music with influences from Melbourne Bounce. New sounds & influences include the Melbourne Bounce Leads, Percussion (including Clap/Snare, shaker, Cowbell, Hihats & White noise-like swipes), along with the Off-beat Bass Pluck. The Off-beat Bass Pluck is similar to that of the Reverse Bass except it doesnt roll/fade in but starts on the Quaver note after the kick.
- Big room hardstyle (2012-present) - A newer experimental fusion Genre of Big room house and Nu hardstyle. These tracks are typically big room in structure and tempo, however many artists within both big room and hardstyle are experimenting to find the line between the two genres and blur that line.
- Hardcore - a faster (often at 180 bpm) and harder genre, and is one of hardstyle's biggest influences. Nowadays it is considered to be Hardstyles' 'evil twin'.
- Hard trance - basically the father of hardstyle, as the earliest hardstyle tracks were still heavily based on hard trance and if we follow hardstyle until about 2005, when it became a genre of its own, you can see it lost hard trance traits on the way but also kept some.
- Jumpstyle - a faster genre like Hardcore, but the mood of its tracks often would match up with its corresponding dance (which is also called Jumpstyle).
- Hard house
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