Ongoing History Daily: How fast is too fast?

For decades, the tempo of music fell between 60 and 150 beats per minute—or, to put it another way, resting heartrate to how much your heart pounds after an invigorating run. It was possible for humans to play faster, but there’s a limit to how fast your fingers and arms and legs can go.

When computers and sequencers came along in the 80s, those speed limitations disappeared, eventually leading to a form of extreme electronic music called “speedcore.”

The genre can be broken down into at least three categories. First, there’s standard speedcore that runs between 250 and 500 beats per minute. Beyond that, we have “splittercore.” Beats hit up to a thousand per minute.

And if that’s not enough for you, there’s “extratone,” which features BPMs above 1000. The fastest dance record I’ve ever encountered is called “Oszillograph Ekel” by Einrich from 1998. It hits an incredible 3600 BPM. Listen, but try not to hurt yourself.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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