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What makes a song gritty, dirty or brutal?

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  • Noob

Hey there, I'm new to this site.

This is my first real post after my introductory post, so please go easy on me if I do something wrong here. :)


So, I've been looking into what makes a beat or instrumental in general dirty, gritty and/or brutal.

So far what I've got is:


-Sampled Sounds

-An over-the-top mix


For reference:


Pretty much the entire song.


The bass as well as the perc-selection and the tense strings/synths


Especially the bassy kicks in this one, and the choppy nature of breakcore in general.


Here in this song especially the eerie e-piano-ish sound, the high pitched noise during the chorus.


For clarification: I'm not talking about the entire songs when I say dark, gritty, brutal and dirty. Just parts of those example songs.


If there are people out there who have some experience with this specific feeling I'm talking about in music, or people who may have some ideas how this feeling can be achieved, then please let me know.

I've been trying to figure this out for quite some time, and as you can see from this post, I haven't been able to get very far.


I'm looking forward to your ideas :)


-Danny (Aceox)


Edit: Here's what I got so far. I'm currently trying to figure out what I could add to make it more unsettling. I'd love to hear your suggestions :)



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Well, one of the most-iconic "unsettling" scores ever written, I think, was for the movie Psycho.  (See https://www.allmusic.com/composition/psycho-film-score-mc0002363304.)



The music so far has an obviously "human heart-beat" feel and the phrase goes up in a repeated loop which therefore builds tension without releasing it.  My ear almost hears another phrase trying to come in right now at 0:06-07.  I would have the existing loop serve as a continuum while other orchestral and synth parts come in and begin to build discordantly-yet-harmoniously under it.  Then, about 1:00 in, ratchet that loop up a notch or three.


Never underestimate the power of a bongo drummer playing fast – sweeping the audience forward into whatever-it-is whether they want to go there or not. 


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