Dubstep began in South London in the early 2000s, and has risen to become the most popular form of electronic music in years. Branching off from UK garage and grime, dubstep primarily became known for a moderate tempo (typically around 140 bpm), a heavy emphasis on bass and frequencies under 100Hz and often (but certainly not always) with a distinctive "wobble" sound. Rhythmically, dubstep is in Common Time by definition and owes a lot of its sound to dub reggae: both usually have a snare hit on the third beat of the bar, and both drums and bass tend to make heavy use of triplets.
Originally minimalistic, dark, and atmospheric, dubstep evolved over the course of the last decade. Beats became heavier, bass more abrasive, and as the sound gained mainstream popularity, more attention was paid to big drops and "filthy" wobbles (usually preceded by a 30-60 second long intro) than atmosphere. This new form of the style became known (somewhat derogatorily) as "brostep"; that is, dubstep that "bros" could enjoy. Contrast "Midnight Request Line" by Skream, one of dubstep's first crossover hits, with the Flux Pavilion remix of "Cracks" by Freestylers, a popular song from about 2010. This division in sound has led to massive amounts of Fan Dumb and Broken Base in the dubstep community, and it will most likely only get worse, as dubstep has, as of 2012, appeared even in advertisements for films, television shows and products. Many artists that once associated with the genre are splintering off and working on other forms of electronic music, such as post-dubstep (dubstep meets R&B/soul), bass music and glitch hop.
In the current scene, there are two popular varieties of dubstep; the aforementioned "brostep", which is harder and more abrasive, featuring a "filthy" sound, start-stop basslines, heavy drops and more emphasis on heavily distorted riffs as opposed to the conventional "wobble" sound of classic dubstep, and often with significant Heavy Metal influences (hence the alternative name "metalstep"); and "chillstep", a Lighter and Softer take on traditional dubstep which features less distorted bass, a more spacey sound, little to no wobble riffs, less emphasis to near-absence of drops and a generally "angelic" or "uplifting" feel, although many other varieties exist, such as drumstep (dubstep + drum and bass), glitchstep (dubstep + glitch music, occasionally with some chiptune thrown in) and noisestep (dubstep + noise/industrial) Dubstep is known among artists for its ease of fusion with non-electronic music genres, such as classical, hip-hop and soul music. Its influence has also been felt in other genres of electronic music, particularly in EBM (electronic body music), IDM (intelligent dance music), Industrial Metal and some hard varieties of techno and trance.
Broken Base: One of the most divisive genres in modern music; fans are divided over whether to listen to the more atmospheric "chillstep", or to the more metallic "brostep". The dubstep fandom continues to schism at an alarming rate due to the ever-increasing number of dubstep variants in the current scene.
The former artist, Nero, is by far the most respected brostep act, as their debut album, Welcome Reality, received highly positive reviews from critics, rave fan response and stepped up brostep's mainstream popularity up a notch thanks to their constant inclusion in modern media. In fact, they have even produced a song for the soundtrack of the 2013 movie reenactment of The Great Gatsby.
Everything Is an Instrument: Dubstep artists often use a wide variety of musical instruments, despite what most people think. Guitars, basses, synthesizers, drums, violins, wind instruments, computer software, theremins and sequencers are commonly used instruments in dubstep, but sometimes artists opt for rather bizarre instrument choices. The use of jackhammers and circuit boards is not unheard of...
Indecipherable Lyrics: Dubstep artists, especially more modern acts, tend to throw in vocals for whatever reason. Combining vocals with the Sensory Abuse the genre is known for often results to this. The vocal work in Skrillex' "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" is a particularly grating example.
Harsh Noise: A very, very big influence to brostep, with artists such as Skrillex, Excision and Kill The Noise being the most blatantly influenced by it. Noisestep artist tend to draw even more inspiration from the genre, leading to some overlap with industrial (especially the power electronics and EBM subsets).
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Many dubstep releases (especially the older ones) tend to be very hard to find; much of the traditional dubstep that still exists today has virtually gone out of print, and new artists rarely release professional studio records, therefore the only practical way of obtaining most dubstep is through file sharing sites. Some artists have taken advantage of this by deliberately releasing albums for free, and making money through other means, such as performing live or selling dubstep-related merch.
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: One of the non-metal genres that have crept up in the scale, due to its many similarities (and crossovers) with rock and metal music, and one of the few genres that covers (almost) the entire scale. The lowest reached was with Burial, a 1-2, and the hardest dubstep artist on the scale is an ex-aequo between Kill The Noise, Datsik, Excision and Downlink, all usually having songs residing at levels 10-11.note If you want to know, Skrillex is mostly a soft 9-standard 10.
Chillstep is usually a 1-2, most traditional dubstep can be found at levels 3 to 5, modern dubstep typically ranges from 6 to 7, and brostep starts at 8 and can go up to 10, with the noisier and more slam-influenced varieties going up to 11. Here are some examples of dubstep music at each level.note TV Tropes encourages you to put more examples here and in the scale.
Public Medium Ignorance: Anyone who has a passing knowledge of what dubstep is would immediately think of Skrillex upon hearing the word, not knowing that a whole scene of active dubstep musicians exists. This knowledge often reaches Fan Dumb levels as they continue to associate Skrillex with the genre,note when in fact, Skrillex usually produces house music and trance, but his dubstep has become so well-known that even his non-dubstep works are easily overlooked. to the point where the rest of the dubstep scene is perecived as irrelevant. This can get particularly grating in some cases, as many music fans now believe that Skrillex is an even better composer than Hans Zimmer, Mozart, or Yoshiki Hayashi simply because Skrillex makes dubstep.
Moreover, many people have grown so accustomed to the brostep sound, to the point where they have come to believe that "all dubstep is brostep" or "brostep is the one true dubstep" and shun all other varieties due to not being "filthy" enough.
It has gotten progressively worse in recent years, as dubstep continues to displace established electronic music genres such as eurobeat, industrial and trance, to the point where some ignorant listeners have begun calling all forms of electronic music "dubstep". This sounds eerily familiar... Becomes especially annoying to those who still work with non-dubstep electronic genres, especially toward the ends that aren't as "danceable" as brostep (such as psytrance or Goa trance where the point is creating a story of sound, not necessarily being catchy or even danceable - a psytrance song can actually be meant more for contemplation or tripping as opposed to dancing for example)
Rearrange the Song: Dubstep musicians frequently rearrange songs from within and outside the genre. Some even go as far as making multiple versions of their own songs.
Spiritual Successor: To Nu Metal, at least in terms of being The Scrappy of the current music scene. In (almost) all its iterations, it is widely hated (or at least poorly received) by critics, who view the genre as being about genre-fucking mutability and "filthy" bass drops. Not to mention the increasing number of artists from equallyhated genres that incorporate dubstep elements in their sound, and non-dubstep artists gravitating to dubstep simply because dubstep is much more commercially viable nowadays. Mind you, good dubstep does exist, if you know where and how to find them, as such artists never leave the underground.
Three Chords and the Truth: While most dubstep makes use of melodies, they tend to sound more simple in comparison with other Electronic Music genres. This trope comes into play in many "bass drops" where musicality is dropped in favor of rhythmic "wobble" bass riffs. Brostep takes this Up to Eleven by eschewing bass wobbles for heavily distorted riffs reminiscent of industrial music, although there are exceptions: some artists, such as Flux Pavilion and Borgore, subvert this trope, as they keep a certain amount of musicality in the drop. Chillstep artists, and even a handful of brostep artistsnote Examples are Feed Me and Monsta, however, avert this trope altogether.
Uncommon Time: Usually used in the harder varieties of brostep, such as noisestep and glitchstep, to make the already-harsh drops even more harsh and disorienting. Borgore, Excision and Kill The Noise have made time-signature torture an art form in brostep.