Downtempo (or Downbeat) is a laid-back electronic music style similar to ambient music, but usually with a beat or groove unlike the beatless forms of Ambient music. The beat is sometimes made from loops that have a hypnotic feeling. Sometimes the beats are more complicated and more featured instead of being in the background, but even then they are usually less intense than other kinds of electronic music like Trance. Often the name chill-out music is used to refer to songs demonstrative of the genre, but those names also refer to other styles of music, and downtempo encompasses a wider variety of styles than those terms alone would indicate.

The 1990s brought on a wave of slower paced music which was played throughout chillout rooms—the relaxation sections of the clubs or dedicated sections at electronic music events. Downtempo music started to surface around Ibiza, when DJs and Promoters would bring down the vibe with slower rhythm and gentler electronic music upon approaching sunrise. In 1994, trip hop emerged from Bristol, which combined elements of hip hop beats, drum and bass breaks, and ambient atmospheres at a lower tempo. At the end of 1990s a more melodic instrumental electronica incorporating acoustic sounds with electronic styles emerged under its own umbrella name of downtempo.

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