Hardcore can refer to 1a) electronic dance music style "hardcore" that is usually quite fast and always rather hard (hence the name), 4×4-beat form of techno. Originated and popular in Germany, Belgium and Holland. Also favoured and prominent since the early days in UK and US. Developed from the sounds of acid, techno, house and hardcore breakbeat of which more later. In Belgium the style of new beat should be mentioned as precedent to techno. Later faster variation of techno was being produced in Belgium which eventually led to hardcore and gabber over there.
Hardcore can be fairly minimal and refined consisting of synthetic pad sounds, a (Roland TB-303) acid line, drum pattern (Roland TR-909 or TR-808, for example) and sampled vocal sounds. The beat from the drum machine is similar to any other harder variety of electronica: open and closed hi-hats, snare, clap, ride cymbal and cymbal at the beginning of a pattern and on the fills at the end. Usually used in a way that gives the style its distinctive frenzy and hardness, and making the hectic beat sound even faster than it actually is. All the drum sounds can be also heavily reverberated, echoed, flangered or being filtered up and down on the breakdowns or throughout the entire song. Distortion is extremely often used especially on the kick drum making it a highly distinguishable feature of the style.
Hardcore has also another side besides the more sophisticated one with tweaking acid lines and drum machine-made beats: and equally hard but more brutal and not-so-subtle, based more on sampling of sounds and voices, synths and hoovers and breakbeats/drum loops. With the clap and snare beating each time – or on 2 & 4 – on the 4×4 beat, this variation of hardcore is closely related to gabber which is the most similar style within the electronic genre. Compared to gabber, hardcore tends to be a bit slower but the tracks are executed in a more complex way sound- and structurewise. It's more sinister, whereas gabber can be described often quite silly, joyous and tongue-in-cheek and leaning on (melodic) rhythm patterns, although humour is not completely unknown to hardcore either. The BPM-count may be lower but the overall atmosphere of a song is darker and harder-edge. Hard techno and industrial hardcore are two other styles akin.
The kick drum can be hard, sharp and technolike or harsh, distorted and raw. It can be echoed or reverbed to give it a full, pumping character that moves the track forward. The distortion can also be used in the same manner as in jumpstyle, gabber, hard trance or US hard house: making the bass drum low and booming but not turning the waveform jaded or jagged; maintaining certain roundness and softness to it. The tempo is within 130–235 BPM. German Marc Trauner (Acardipane) released the first song considered hardcore in 1990: Mescalinum United – We Have Arrived.
1b) Hardcore breakbeat – a style of electronic dance music with a broken, mostly sampled beat structure. Emerged in the UK in the early 90s. Lots of pitched-up rap vocal samples and drumloops, hoovers, stabs, pianos and chords used. Heavy on bass; sub-bass sounds used. Predecessor of jungle and drum & bass. BPM: 120–150.
2) Rock style – also known as hardcore punk – that was started in the late 70s by Middle Class, followed by Black Flag and then by the likes of Discharge (from Stoke-on-Trent), Circle Jerks, Minor Threat, Asocial, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Bad Brains, The Germs and many, many more. While early hardcore punk was extremely tied to punk rock, the genre developed into a more aggressive and of shorter songs. The term "hardcore punk" was probably coined by Discharge (from Middlesborough, not the D-beat band from Stoke-on-Trent) in their 1980 split EP with The Filth, in their song "Hardcore Punx". Canadian Band D.O.A.'s Seminal 1981 12" "HARDCORE '81" also forwarded the term to general use. The expression "mosh" (as in "moshing" or "mosh pit") is attributed to H.R. – reggae/hardcore punk band Bad Brains vocalist and frontman – who used the word "mash" (pronounced "mosh" in a Jamaican accent) lyrically and on-stage, in the means of inciting and to describing the aggressive and often violent dancing that took place in concerts.