when referring to electronic dance music structure, is there any difference between the terms "break" and "breakdown"?

A breakdown for sure is that section where kick/main bass are muted and the song goes back to being generally melody/chords led. Its purpose is to drastically reduce the energy after busier sections like drops or buildups, or to set a certain mood at the beginning of the track.

But what does the word "Break" exactly refer to? I've heard some people use it as a synonim, or better abbreviation, of the word "breakdown". Other people instead would call a "break" a totally different thing: that optional part in a song, usually very short (lasting nothing more than a couple of bars) which the composer sometimes would stick between two sections in order to provide a break in the usual 4bars multiple based structure, and therefore introduce interest. just like Kygo does t 1.05 in his track "Firestone".

How would you call those two bars? How should they be treated from a macroscopic point of view? Is it "compulsory" for danceability and mixability's sake to counterbalance those two bars whith another two bars somewhere elese in the arrangement, in order to preserve the 4bars-multiple structure? Would you call it a different name than "break"?


1 Answer 1


You have told us what 'breakdown' means in EDM, and I believe you.

'Break' has a much earlier usage in jazz music. It's when everyone else stops for a few beats and a solo instrument fills the gap with a flourish.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.