Branding: In Five and a Half Steps by Michael Johnson: Review

The ultimate step-by-step visual guide to creating a successful brand, using contemporary brand identities as prototypesMichael Johnson is one of the world’s leading graphic designers and brand consultants. His studio, johnson banks, is responsible for the rebranding of many notable clients, including Virgin Atlantic, Think London, BFI, Christian Aid, and MORE THN, and he has garnered a plethora of awards in the process. In Branding, Johnson strips everyday brands down to their basic components, with case studies that enable us to understand why we select one product or service over another and allow us to comprehend how seemingly subtle influences can affect key life decisions. The first part of the book shows how the birth of a brand begins not with finding a solution but rather with identifying the correct question—the missing gap in the market—to which an answer is needed. Johnson proceeds to unveil hidden elements involved in creating a successful brand—from the strapline that gives the brand a narrative and a purpose to clever uses of typography that unite design and language. With more than 1,000 vibrant illustrations showcasing the world’s most successful corporate identities, as well as generic templates enabling you to create your own brand or ad with ease, Branding explores every step of the development process required to create the simplest and most immediately compelling brands.

Are you ready to dive deep into the world of breakbeat music? Look no further than Mike Adamo’s Breakbeat Bible. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about this genre, from its origins to modern production techniques.

In the first section of the book, Adamo takes you on a journey through the history of breakbeats, discussing their evolution from jazz and funk music in the 1970s to their current use in electronic dance music. You’ll learn about key artists and tracks that have shaped the genre over time. But this book isn’t just a history lesson – it also provides practical advice on how to mix and scratch breakbeats like a pro, as well as tips for sampling and producing your own tracks. Whether you’re a seasoned DJ or just starting out, Breakbeat Bible is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to explore this exciting genre.

History of Breakbeat Music

Get ready to feel the rhythm of the past as we dive into the fascinating history of breakbeat music! Breakbeat evolution can be traced back to the early 1970s when DJs would loop and extend the drum breaks in funk and soul records. These extended breaks quickly became popular with partygoers who wanted to dance longer, leading to a new genre of music called breakbeat.

As breakbeats grew in popularity, iconic breakbeat tracks emerged that defined the sound and style of this genre. One such track was “Apache”by The Incredible Bongo Band, which featured a distinctive drum break that has been sampled countless times in hip hop and electronic music. Another classic breakbeat track is “Funky Drummer”by James Brown, which features a funky drum groove that has been used in everything from hip hop to rock.

Understanding breakbeats is essential for anyone interested in producing or DJing breakbeat music. By breaking down individual elements like kick drums, snares, and hi-hats within a beat, producers can create unique variations on classic grooves. With this knowledge at your fingertips, you’ll be able to craft your own signature sound while staying true to the roots of this influential genre.

Understanding Breakbeats

When it comes to understanding breakbeats, there are two key points to consider: the anatomy of a breakbeat and the different styles of breakbeats. The anatomy of a breakbeat refers to how these rhythmic patterns are constructed, often featuring drum samples that have been chopped up and rearranged in unique ways. Meanwhile, different styles of breakbeats can vary widely depending on factors like tempo, groove, and instrumentation. By exploring these concepts in more detail, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the complex art form that is breakbeat music.

Anatomy of a Breakbeat

As you explore the Anatomy of a Breakbeat, you’ll notice that it consists of three primary components: the kick drum, snare drum, and hi-hat. These three components work together to create the unique rhythmic pattern that defines breakbeats. The kick drum provides the foundational beat, while the snare drum adds emphasis and creates a syncopated rhythm. The hi-hat adds texture and fills in any gaps between beats.

Delving deeper into each component, you’ll find that there are variations within each one that can further shape the sound of a breakbeat. For example, different styles of kick drums can range from sharp and punchy to deep and booming, each providing a different energy to the overall groove. Similarly, varying snare drums can add complexity or simplicity to a breakbeat while hi-hats can be used sparingly for accentuation or played continuously for added texture. Understanding these nuances is crucial in creating your own unique breakbeats that stand out from their origins as well as other variations. As we move on to discussing different styles of breakbeats, keep these components in mind as they form the foundation for all types of breaks.

Different Styles of Breakbeats

You’ll be pumped to explore the various styles of breakbeats and discover how each one can ignite a different emotion within you. Breakbeat fusion is a style that combines elements of hip-hop, funk, and soul music, resulting in a sound that is both groovy and energetic. This style became popular in the 1990s with artists like The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim leading the way.

Breakbeat evolution, on the other hand, involves taking classic breakbeats from old funk and soul records and manipulating them to create new beats. This style has been around since the early days of hip-hop but has evolved over time as technology has advanced. DJs have used techniques like looping, chopping, and rearranging to create unique sounds that still maintain the essence of classic breaks. Now that you have an idea about these different styles of breakbeats, it’s time to learn some techniques for mixing and scratching without compromising the beat’s rhythm or flow.

Techniques for Mixing and Scratching

To really master the art of breakbeat mixing and scratching, try experimenting with different techniques. One of the most important mixing techniques is beatmatching, which involves aligning the beats of two tracks to create a seamless transition. This can be done manually using pitch control or through software that automatically syncs the tracks.

Another technique is called phrasing, where you match the beginning and end of a musical phrase in one track with another. This creates a more natural flow between tracks and helps maintain the energy on the dancefloor. Additionally, you can add effects like delay or reverb to enhance transitions and create unique sounds.

Scratching tutorials are also essential for any aspiring breakbeat DJ. Scratching involves manipulating vinyl records or digital files by moving them back and forth under a stylus while creating rhythmic patterns with your hand on the mixer’s crossfader. To master this technique, start with basic scratches like baby scratches before moving onto more complex ones like chirps or flares.

As you hone your mixing and scratching skills, you may want to explore sampling and production techniques to take your sound to new heights. By incorporating elements from different genres or blending samples together creatively, you can create entirely new tracks that showcase your unique style as a breakbeat artist.

Sampling and Production

If you want to take your breakbeat DJ skills to the next level, try exploring sampling and production techniques that can help you create unique tracks that showcase your personal style. Sampling is a crucial element in the beatmaking process as it allows you to incorporate different sounds and textures seamlessly into your tracks. One popular technique is using drum breaks from old funk or soul records and manipulating them through chopping, filtering, and rearranging.

To make your breakbeats stand out, here are four sampling techniques to consider:
1) Layering – adding multiple samples together to create a complex sound.
2) Pitch-shifting – changing the pitch of a sample to match other elements in the track.
3) Time-stretching – altering the tempo of a sample without changing its pitch.
4) Reverse engineering – flipping a sample backwards for an unexpected twist.

As you experiment with these techniques, keep in mind that producing quality breakbeats takes time and patience. It’s essential to have a good ear for what sounds good together while also pushing yourself creatively to try new things. By incorporating unique samples and combining them in unexpected ways, you can elevate your tracks and set yourself apart as a standout producer.

Sampling and production are just one aspect of mastering breakbeats. In the next section, we’ll explore how electronic musicians use breakbeats as a foundation for their music-making process.

Using Breakbeats in Electronic Music

When incorporating breakbeats into your electronic music, it’s important to understand how the rhythm and groove can enhance the overall vibe of your track. Breakbeats offer a unique sound that is different from drum machines, providing a more organic and natural feel to the beat. With breakbeats, you have the opportunity to create an unpredictable pattern that adds character and depth to the song. The use of breakbeats also allows for experimentation with different tempos and time signatures.

Breakbeat fusion with live instruments is another way to add flavor to your electronic music. Live instruments such as guitars, drums, or horns can be integrated into the track alongside breakbeats, creating a dynamic mix of sounds. This approach adds texture and dimension to your production while giving it a human touch. It’s essential to experiment with various combinations of live instruments and breakbeats until you find what works best for you.

Incorporating breakbeats into your electronic music may seem daunting at first, but it’s worth exploring this area if you want your productions to stand out from others in the same genre. Remember that there are no rules when it comes down to creativity – let yourself explore new territory! In the next section about ‘resources and recommendations,’ we will provide valuable information on where you can get more inspiration on using breakbeats in electronic music production.

Resources and Recommendations

If you’re looking to dive deeper into electronic music production, there are a few key resources and recommendations that can help you on your journey. First, consider investing in quality equipment and software that fits your budget and creative needs. Additionally, online communities like Reddit’s r/WeAreTheMusicMakers or Facebook groups like Electronic Music Production Network offer opportunities for networking, feedback, and collaboration. Finally, don’t forget to explore further reading and listening suggestions such as books on music theory or iconic albums within the genre to expand your knowledge and inspiration.

Equipment and Software Recommendations

To get the most out of breakbeat production, you’ll need to invest in some key equipment and software. Here are five essential items to consider when building your setup:

  • A reliable computer or laptop with a fast processor and enough RAM to handle music production software.
  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software such as Ableton Live, FL Studio, or Logic Pro X for composing, arranging, mixing and mastering your tracks.
  • High-quality studio monitors or headphones to ensure accurate sound reproduction while mixing.
  • MIDI controllers like keyboards or drum pads for playing virtual instruments and triggering samples.
  • Plugins such as synthesizers, effects processors and sample libraries can add depth and texture to your tracks.
  • A reliable computer or laptop with a fast processor and enough RAM to handle music production software.
  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software such as Ableton Live, FL Studio, or Logic Pro X for composing, arranging, mixing and mastering your tracks.
  • High-quality studio monitors or headphones to ensure accurate sound reproduction while mixing.
  • MIDI controllers like keyboards or drum pads for playing virtual instruments and triggering samples.
  • Plugins such as synthesizers, effects processors and sample libraries can add depth and texture to your tracks.
  • Investing in these recommended brands will ensure that you have the best possible equipment for producing high-quality breakbeats: Native Instruments, AKAI Professional, Novation, KRK Systems and Pioneer DJ.

    Building an effective breakbeat setup takes time but it is worth the investment if you want to create professional-grade music. In the next section we’ll explore how online communities and tutorials can help enhance your skills as a producer.

    Online Communities and Tutorials

    Enhance your breakbeat production skills by joining online communities and watching tutorials from experienced producers. Online collaboration is a great way to learn new techniques, get feedback on your work, and connect with like-minded individuals. There are many online platforms where you can find such communities, including Reddit, Facebook groups, and Discord servers. By participating in these communities, you can learn about the latest trends in breakbeat music and gain insights into how other producers are creating their tracks.

    In addition to online collaboration, tutorials are another valuable resource for improving your breakbeat production skills. Many experienced producers offer free or paid tutorials that cover everything from basic techniques to advanced production methods. By following these tutorials, you can learn new approaches to sound design and arrangement that will help take your productions to the next level. You can also receive tutorial feedback from other producers in online communities who have used these same resources themselves.

    If you’re looking for further reading and listening suggestions for mastering breakbeat production, there are many resources available that cover a wide range of topics related to electronic music production. From books on mixing and mastering to podcasts featuring interviews with industry experts, there’s no shortage of information out there for those looking to improve their skills in this field.

    Further Reading and Listening Suggestions

    Take your breakbeat production skills to the next level by exploring a wealth of further reading and listening suggestions available online. The Breakbeat Bible by Mike Adamo is just one example of a comprehensive guide that can help you hone your craft. However, there are plenty of other resources out there that can provide valuable insights and inspiration.

    For those looking for more in-depth discussions on the intricacies of breakbeats, check out online forums like Reddit’s r/breakbeat or You can also find tutorials on sites like YouTube and Skillshare, where seasoned producers share their tips and tricks for creating killer beats. Additionally, consider following prominent DJs and producers on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter; they often share new tracks and behind-the-scenes glimpses into their creative process. By immersing yourself in this community and taking advantage of these resources, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master at producing breakbeats.


    Congratulations! You have just completed reading “Breakbeat Bible”by Mike Adamo. By now, you should be an expert on the history of breakbeat music, understanding breakbeats, techniques for mixing and scratching, sampling and production, and using breakbeats in electronic music.

    It’s hard to believe that such a comprehensive guide exists in one book. You may feel like you’ve just received a doctorate degree in breakbeat musicology. With this knowledge at your fingertips, you can easily impress your friends with your DJ skills or even produce your own hit tracks. “Breakbeat Bible”is truly a masterpiece that any serious musician or enthusiast should have in their collection.

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