Types of Beats

With the advent of evolving DAW (digital audio workstations), the limitations in new beats and formats changes daily. There is no longer the limitation imposed by the need to be in studio, when now the studio can be anywhere as long as you have the proper software and skills.

Beats can be separated into two main categories, sampled and non-sampled. Each genre usually has an element of both as subcategories within.

The origins are somewhat muddled, but most agree that beats grew out of the breaks that were introduced in the early 70’s. Borrowing from swing and blues, these beats were funk based and developed into turntablism. As acceptance grew, other pioneers in hip-hop, post-disco and freestyle developed.



Acid breaks is a mixture of breakbeat and acid house, while incorporating other dance music.

Big beats evolved a bit slower, but was a larger hit with mainstream USA.

Breakcore, or noisecore is a derivative of dance music and hardcore with heavy drum and high tempo.

Broken beat is a 4/4 tempo accented with clapping, big in the UK.

Nu-funk tends to be slower and danceable and averages around 100-120 bpm.

Progressive house developed from the trance genre and used the synthesizer more than other classifications.

Ambient beats utilize tone and atmosphere over traditional musical setups.

Drum and Bass is characterized by a hypnotic rhythm and heavy 150-180 beats per minute bass line.

Industrial music is an experimental form that tends to be aggressive and threatening.

Trance beats originated in Germany, but were quickly adopted worldwide. Characteristics of trance is the slow buildup and gradual release.

House music is one of the most widely recognized types of beats. Originating in Chicago, house is the parent of many sub styles.


Disco was widely popular in the 70’s and has enjoyed a resurgence in the dance community.

HI-NRG is a specific sub style of beats with a disco styled aggressive beat .

Hardcore or gabber is classified by the square wave produced when you overdrive the drums.

UK garage is another 4/4 tempo but this style also featured chopped up high=hats and pitch shifts. The tempo is 130 bpm.

On the other end of the spectrum is downtempo, which is similar to ambient music but with a discernible groove included.

In addition to this sample of possible beats, there exists the fusion market where two styles combine.

Breakstep, which is a combination of drum and bass and 2 step.

Breakbeat hardcore is a synthesis of acid house music with techno. This is the sound most identified in the old school rave scene.

Trip hop is the combination of hip-hop beats layered into electronic music.

Besides these, there are still plenty more beats out there that I haven’t mentioned. Go out there and try to create some beats of your own with some software. The types of beats you can produce with music software are as varied as your own imagination.