Definition of "Gabber"

Gabber is a style of electronic music and a subgenre of hardcore techno. "Gabber" is an Amsterdam slang word of Bargoens and Yiddish origin (cf. chaver) that means "mate", "buddy", "pal" or "friend".

The music got its name from an article in which the Amsterdam DJ K.C. the Funkaholic was asked how he felt about the harder Rotterdam house scene. He 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), he engraved in the vinyl "Gabber zijn is geen schande!" translating as "it's not a disgrace to be a gabber!". The word gained popularity in the Rotterdam house scene and people started to call themselves 'gabbers'.

Although a house variant from Detroit reached Amsterdam in the late 1980s, it was the producers and DJs from Rotterdam who evolved it into a harder house variant which is today known as "Gabber".

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 Gabber. The essence of the gabber sound is a distorted bass drum sound, 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. Gabber tracks typically include samples and synthesised melodies with the typical tempo ranging from 150 to 170 bpm. Violence, drugs and profanity are common themes in gabber, perceptible through its samples and lyrics, often screamed, pitch shifted, or distorted.

Gabber is popular in many countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. It also has a newfound popularity in urban areas of Australia, particularly in Sydney amongst the 'lad' subculture. In Germany, Gabber parties often take place in the Ruhr area, as well as Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

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