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Reggae Music

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Brad Williams

on 15 September 2013

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Transcript of Reggae Music

Reggae Music
Famous Artists
While there are hundreds of professional reggae players out there, here are just a few of the most influential musicians or groups to the genre. Almost every reggae artist in Jamaica was recorded by Studio One in Kingston. This record company was another crucial factor in the creation of reggae.
The influence of reggae on modern music
Reggae music heavily influenced other musical genres and cultures throughout the world. Reggae influenced counter-culture movement in the UK, American punk and rock, artists like Eric Clapton, UB40 and Jack Johnson. Reggae also played a part in the birth of hip-hop and rap music. [16]
Roots of Reggae
Reggae is a style of popular music that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s and quickly emerged as the country’s dominant music [3]. Reggae was heavily influenced by earlier musical styles and culture as well as the Rastafarian ideology.
The sound of Reggae
Musical
There were three main genres that influenced the development of reggae.
Mento
Mento is an older style than ska or rocksteady, brought to Jamaica by African slaves and described as "a unique fusion of African and European musical traditions.". Mento is described as sounding folksy, informal and rural, like "Jamaican country music" [10].
Ska
The precursor to reggae and rocksteady, ska was a musical genre that originated in Jamaica towards the late 1950's. Ska combined elements of American rhythm and blues, jazz and soul with Caribbean styles such as mento. It is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the upbeat. In the early 1960s, ska was the most popular genre of Jamaican music, until the rise of reggae. [12]
Rocksteady
Rocksteady music was incredibly important to the birth of reggae, even though it only lasted for a few years. It is basically a slower form of ska music, but with a more prominent bassline. Rocksteady music laid the groundwork for reggae, mostly through the increasing importance of bass and the development of skank guitar. It also became more focused on important social and political themes. [16, 11]
Social and Cultural Influence
Reggae music has evolved a very unique sound. Most people can recognise a song as "reggae" within a few seconds of listening. There are several different elements that come together to create this characteristic sound.
Guitar
A key element of reggae is the electric guitar. The 'skank' technique is present in almost all reggae music. Playing skank guitar involves accenting the strum on the upbeat and using the guitar almost as a percussive instrument [15]. The guitar also becomes a driving force behind the beat, perhaps more than the bass guitar in many songs. An example of how to play reggae guitar is shown here...
Drums
Reggae drums are used primarily to keep the beat. The emphasis lies heavily on the bass drum, but the hi-hats are used to supplement the upbeat skank groove played by the guitars. Snare drums are used for accents and rim clicks are common. While the snare and hi-hat beats for reggae stay mostly the same, there are three distinct bass drum patterns used in reggae.
Rocker
The rocker drum beat is the most similar to popular rock music. Rocker beats have the bass drum falling on beat three of the bar just like one drop, but with accents on the first beat added in. This results in a different feel more similar to rock drumming.
One Drop
The one drop bass beat places the bass hit on beat three (or two, depending on how the beat is counted) and purposefully avoids playing on the first beat. This can be seen in the Bob Marley song "Stir it Up". An instructional video on the one drop beat is shown above.
Stepper
The stepper beat is a bass pattern where every beat is accented. it creates a driving pulse in the music. An example song using the steppers beat is "Stepping Razor" by Peter Tosh.
Bass
The bass is possibly the single most important instrument in reggae. It is the bass that drives the song and gives it the groove more than any other instrument. Listening to reggae, often the bass line is the easiest part to recall. Reggae bass style is described as "steady and repetitive, something that’s catchy but at the same time groovy and profound.". [6] This example features a predominant bass groove that really pushes the groove.
There are many other instruments featured in reggae music such as organs, pianos, brass instruments and other percussion instruments that feature in many reggae songs, but they are too many to discuss in detail, however often they add emphasis to the beat of the song or supplement another instrument. Here is one song that features trumpets and other brass predominantly - "Marcus Garvey" by Burning Spear.
Reggae Vocals
Since reggae was invented in Jamaica, it makes sense that most reggae singers would sound Jamaican, however this is not strictly necessary (though UB40 put on the accent anyway) A cover of "Downpresser Man" done by Sinead O'Connor shows reggae with a different kind of voice. Vocals in reggae are used very melodically and backing vocals are common but many reggae songs have elements of rap singing in them. [5]
Bob Marley
Peter Tosh
Toots and the Maytals
Burning Spear
Nesta Robert Marley is widely regarded as the most popular and influential reggae singer of all time. Possibly the first and certainly one of very few third world artists to become an international superstar, he popularized reggae music worldwide. Marley and his group The Wailers are credited as the group that created the definitive reggae sound. Marley was heavily influenced by the Rastafarian movement and Marijuana (or Ganja) and these influences are apparent in many of his songs. In 1976, just a two days before a show in Kingston, gunmen broke into Marley's house and shot him, his wife and the Wailer's manager. While no one was killed, Marley fled Jamaica after playing the gig. It is thought that the assassination attempt was politically motivated, as Bob Marley was an incredibly influential person in Jamaica. Marley died on the 11th of May 1981 in a Miami hospital, as a result of malignant melanoma cancer. [2]
"Ganja Gun" A song about marijuana
"Africa Unite" Heavily influence by Rastafarianism
"Is This Love" A well known Marley song
Winston Rodney, known for his stage name Burning Spear, was another Jamaican reggae artist with strong Rastafarian influence. As much a preacher as a musician, he shares his beliefs with everyone who listens to his music. His music is very spiritual and often dealt with black oppression. [7]
"Slavery Days" by Burning Spear
A founding member of The Wailers, Peter Tosh also had asuccessful solo career. He performed with the Rolling Stones and wrote several popular reggae songs such as "Legalize It" and "Stepping Razor"
Another popular group, Toots and the Maytals began as a ska and rocksteady group while those styles were at their peak. They were perhaps as influential in the development of reggae as the Wailers and their music often demonstrates the links between reggae and American rhythm and blues. [8]
Toots and the Maytals - "Pressure Drop"
The early development of "toasting" was a foundation for rap music.
I-Roy "Sidewalk Killer"
The Rastafarian religion played a huge role
in reggae's history.Rastafarians followed the teaching of Marcus Garvey and other black nationalists and deified the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie or 'Ras Tafari'. Themes of Rastafarianism are very common in reggae music, especially by artists such as Burning Spear. Rastafari encourages the use of Marijuana, another influence of reggae style. [3, 13, 14]
Rastafarianism
reggae is still popular today
and many bands draw inspiration
from the jamaican roots
"No" by the Fear Nuttin Band, contemporary band with reggae roots
Film clip for "Sunshine" by Matisyahu, features reggae elements incorporated into popular music style
Reggae became extremely popular with working class Jamaicans because it often identified with them so well. The search for freedom, for example, is a common lyrical theme as was love or religion. A lot of reggae was written as protest songs from the perspective of the downtrodden working man. [1, 4]
[1] Aces and Eighths. ND. Reggae. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.acesandeighths.com/reggae.html. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[2] biography.com. 2013. Bob Marley biography. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.biography.com/people/bob-marley-9399524. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[3] Carolyn J. Cooper. 2013. Reggae (Music). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/495977/reggae. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[4] Chanel Griffith. 2007. Reggae: The Voice of a Revolution. [ONLINE] Available at: http://voices.yahoo.com/reggae-voice-revolution-246372.html. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[5] howtoplayreggae.com. 2013. How to Make Your Reggae Vocals Sound Like The Greats . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.how-to-play-reggae.com/Reggae-Vocals.html. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[6] howtoplayreggae.com. 2013. What are the characteristics of reggae. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.how-to-play-reggae.com/What-are-the-characteristics-of-reggae.html. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[7] Jo-Anne Green. 2013. Burning Spear biography. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/burning-spear-mn0000641994/biography. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[8] Mark Deming. 2013. Toots and the Maytals biography. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/toots-the-maytals-mn0000790988/biography. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[9] Megan Romer. 2013. Reggae Music 101. [ONLINE] Available at: http://worldmusic.about.com/od/genres/p/Reggae.htm. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[10] mentomusic.com. 2013. What is Mento Music?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.mentomusic.com/WhatIsMento.htm. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[11] Roots, Rock, Reggae - A guide to Jamaican music. 2013. History of Rocksteady. [ONLINE] Available at: http://reggaehistory.wordpress.com/category/history/history-of-rocksteady/. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[12] skascene.com. ND. The History of Ska. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.skascene.com/history.php. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[13] Tim Hall. 2013. Rastafarianism: Origins and beliefs. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1548384/Rastafarianism-Origins-and-beliefs.html. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[14] Walter Robinson. 2009. What is Rastafarianism?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.lastchanceministries.com/Rastafarianism.htm. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[15] WikiHow. ND. How to Play Reggae Guitar. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Reggae-Guitar. [Accessed 13 September 13].
[16] www.personal.psu.edu. ND. Caribbean: Influences on Reggae (Mento & Rocksteady). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/b/a/bac5099/assignment5.html. [Accessed 13 September 13].
References
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