Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sharp rhythmic accent on the second and fourth beats of a measure in 4/4 time, characteristic of rock music.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The sharp accent on the second and fourth beats of rock music in 4/4 time.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a loud steady beat

Etymologies

back(ground) + beat.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • I mean, my whole life has been, you know, the backbeat has been, the backbeat has been the Beatles.

    CNN Transcript Dec 1, 2001

  • One thing I have learned - and this is going to sound silly - is that music is music, and whether it's rap or indie-rock or pop, the circuitry that makes you react to a melody or a backbeat is the same.

    NPR Topics: News

  • Tony Allen (best known as the backbeat of legend Fela's band) want us to download the 15 constituent parts of the single "Secret Agent," the title track off his new album on World Circuit label.

    Disquiet

  • While Mr. Domino pounded out a steady bank of triplets (three notes to every beat), the drummer hit the second and fourth beats harder (known as a "backbeat") and the horns played call-and response bass riffs.

    The Rhythm of Rock 'n' Roll: 'It's All in the 1, 2, 3'

  • The rhythm guitarist, in the same mold as the other two, punctuated the backbeat with a bluesy chord, rotating through a basic progression, changing with each quick, downward strum.

    1965, what I wanted - 3

  • The smoky melody to the ensuing Ruins makes Jack Wyllie's sax more like a stringed instrument crossed with a trumpet, its quivering vibrato spooky but turning more guttural and free-jazzy as the backbeat pushes on.

    Portico Quartet: Portico Quartet – review

  • "For forty years, I kept on singing," she sang over a pulsing backbeat, then swung her arm around for emphasis, "before the money started r-o-l-l-i-n-g in!"

    Art Levine: Amid Dreary Concert Season, Bettye LaVette's Triumphant Return

  • Her delivery is made up of not quite equal parts rhythmic gesture you can hear the backbeat in much of her singing and a modulated jazz inflection with which she toys with the ends of lines.

    Dan Alford: Review: Emily Warren & The Betters at Webster Hall

  • Yet she removes the backbeat and the echo chamber not to mention the sunglasses, and reduces the song to its most emotional essentials; Orbison's colorful melismas become even more anguished and tearful.

    The Jazz Scene: Hot Tones, Francophones

  • On the other hand, the strong backbeat put me into a reggae mood.

    I wonder if Jesus shares this guy's taste in music?

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