Break (music)

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The word break [ bɹeɪk ] ( English for “break”, “gap”, “pause”, “turn”), a term from Afro-American and international popular music , denotes a short, cadenza-like insertion at the end of a formal section, often at the end the so-called bridge . In the German language, in addition to the masculine form ("the break"), the neuter form is also used ("das Break").

Stylistic overview

Breaks are first found in ragtime , especially in Jelly Roll Morton ; well known is the introductory break of his Bugle Call Rag . The break gained special significance in jazz . The traditional places in the blues scheme include the last two bars before the repetition and generally the bars before suitable harmony changes, in the AABA form the last two bars of the B part (of the bridge mentioned above) and the bars before each new section. As a rule, the rhythm section is silent during the mostly solo interjection, be it vocal or instrumental; Virtuosity and improvisational ingenuity play a major role. The term lick stands for rather “pre-cut” elements that are often used in breaks.

Breaks in funk are typically in the drums . This is followed by the breakbeats of the hip-hop and jungle musicians, who sample funky drum breaks and use them as the basis for their productions . In electronic music , atmospheric pads often take on the break function, for example synthetic strings . The so-called breakdown is something else: an effect that arises when a producer or a DJ fades out one sound layer of the music after the other. In progressive rock , a break is an abrupt change in tempo or key .


Well-known breaks are the one from Amen, Brother by The Winstons , the one from Funky Drummer by James Brown and the one from Apache in the version of the Incredible Bongo Band . They are among the most sampled pieces in music history.

Individual evidence

  1. Duden. The German spelling . Dudenverlag, Mannheim 2006. Keyword “Break”.
  2. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians . Macmillan Publishers, London 1980. Article "Break".