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What Is Hardstyle?

Hardstyle is a high-energy electronic dance music genre blending hard techno, hard house, and hardcore. Known for its pounding beats, distorted basslines, and euphoric melodies, it creates an intense auditory experience that energizes crowds. It's more than music; it's a culture of passion and expression. Curious about how hardstyle can electrify your senses? Dive deeper with us into the hardstyle phenomenon.
A. Leverkuhn
A. Leverkuhn

Hardstyle is a type of electronic dance music that relies on various other similar genres for its inspiration, and is characterized by a rapid tempo and specific kinds of instrumental sounds. Other genres that are similar to hardstyle include hard techno or hard house music, as well as rather esoteric musical genres like a rave/house style called gabber. All of these have many elements in common, including a rapid dance beat and a variety of synthesized sounds.

One of the characteristics of hardstyle music is its tempo. Experts note that since the time of its origin, the usual tempo for this type of music sped up from about 140 beats per minute to around 150 beats per minute. A range of staccato or sharp drum sounds are often part of this beat in order to make the frenetic percussion sound even more extreme; some experts also refer to a rhythm called tuplet, where alternating sounds are paired into complex groups for a layered and often chaotic result.

Hardstyle is a type of techno music popular in clubs.
Hardstyle is a type of techno music popular in clubs.

As a specific kind of dance or rave music, hardstyle music is also characterized by the use of distorted sounds. Some of these sounds include a kind of falling intonation, or untuned falling tone, that give some of this music its particular effect. Many of these kinds of musical compositions also feature shouting voices.

Many types of music related to hardstyle were originally created in Europe, specifically in the Netherlands. In several Western European nations, these kinds of music have a wide audience. The music is also reportedly popular in areas of South America and Africa, as well as in some other countries around the world. There is debate over the relative popularity of hardstyle and similar types of music in the Netherlands, England, and Germany, where music fans have analyzed trends in the adoption of these kinds of dance music styles. Although venues in the Netherlands are commonly known to hold “hardstyle music” events promoting the development of this genre, some contend that this type of music is an “English” style, less prominent in Dutch and German musical communities.

Hardstyle music flourished in the Netherlands.
Hardstyle music flourished in the Netherlands.

Hardstyle is commonly performed in the context of a dance club, either live or recorded, often with a DJ setting up and coordinating tracks. Fans of this kind of music have come up with several different kinds of dance routines that complement its rhythm and style. These dances, such as a “shuffle” technique, are part of the larger context for this new type of music that is generating its own presence in modern clubs and other musical arenas.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is hardstyle music and how did it originate?

Hardstyle is a genre of electronic dance music characterized by a hard-hitting blend of techno, trance, and hardcore. It originated in the Netherlands in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The sound is defined by its aggressive bass drums, intense faded or reversed basslines, and melodic synthesizer stabs. Hardstyle also incorporates creative use of kick drums and a tempo that ranges from 140 to 160 BPM, creating a powerful and energetic atmosphere for listeners and dancers alike.

What are the key characteristics of hardstyle music?

The key characteristics of hardstyle music include a fast tempo, typically between 140 and 160 BPM, a heavy emphasis on bass and kick drums, and a distinctive reverse bass technique. Melodic elements often feature euphoric and uplifting synthesizer patterns, while the structure of hardstyle tracks usually builds up to a climactic drop. The genre also frequently uses vocal samples, which can range from pitched-up vocals to deep, distorted phrases, adding to the intensity of the music.

How has hardstyle evolved over the years?

Since its inception, hardstyle has evolved into various subgenres, such as rawstyle and euphoric hardstyle, each with its own distinct sound. Rawstyle is known for its darker, more aggressive tones and a focus on the raw energy of the music. Euphoric hardstyle, on the other hand, emphasizes melody and uplifting emotions. Over the years, hardstyle has also been influenced by other genres, leading to collaborations and cross-genre tracks that have expanded its appeal and complexity.

What is a hardstyle event like?

A hardstyle event is an electrifying experience where fans of the genre gather to dance and celebrate the music they love. These events often feature elaborate stage designs, intense light shows, and powerful sound systems to enhance the impact of the music. DJs and producers perform live sets, driving the crowd with a mix of hard-hitting beats and euphoric melodies. Hardstyle events can range from intimate club nights to massive festivals, such as Defqon.1, which is known for its spectacular end shows and dedicated fan base.

Where can I find hardstyle music and how can I get involved in the community?

Hardstyle music can be found on various music streaming platforms, dedicated hardstyle radio stations, and through online communities. Websites like offer a vast selection of tracks for purchase or streaming. To get involved in the community, you can attend events, participate in online forums, and follow artists and labels on social media. Engaging with other fans through platforms like Reddit's r/hardstyle subreddit can also be a great way to connect with the hardstyle community and stay updated on the latest music and events.

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    • Hardstyle is a type of techno music popular in clubs.
      By: maxoidos
      Hardstyle is a type of techno music popular in clubs.
    • Hardstyle music flourished in the Netherlands.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      Hardstyle music flourished in the Netherlands.