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Big beat is a style of music that typically uses heavy breakbeats and synthesizer-generated loops and patterns common to techno and acid house. The term has been used since the mid-1990s by the British music press to describe music by artists such as The Prodigy, Cut La Roc, Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method, and Propellerheads.
Big beat tends to feature distorted, compressed breakbeats at tempos between 120 to 140 beats per minute, acid house-style synthesizer lines, and heavy loops from 60s and 70s funk, jazz, rock, and pop songs. They are often punctuated with punk-style vocals and driven by intense, distorted basslines with conventional pop and techno song structures. Big beat tracks have a sound that includes crescendos, builds, drops, dramatic sound effects, such as explosions or sirens, and extended drum rolls. As with several other dance genres at the time, the use of effects such as filters, phasing, and flanging was commonplace.
Celebrated instigators of the genre such as Fatboy Slim tend to feature heavily compressed loud breakbeats in their tracks, which are used to define the music as much as any melodic hooks and sampled sounds. Based on the primary use of loud, heavy breakbeats and basslines, big beat shares attributes with jungle and drum and bass, but has a significantly slower tempo.