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Reggae wk 1: Ska + Rocksteady

ska, reggae and dub information

David Mumford

on 16 September 2015

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Transcript of Reggae wk 1: Ska + Rocksteady

Jamaican popular music
Reggae, dub, ska and Rocksteady
- 1959 - 1966 (Flourishing around 62)

- Characterised by a fast, syncopated rhythm guitar stroke, driving horns and boogie-style stand-up bass.

- Took heavy influence from American rock and roll with its high tempo and also from r’n’b and boogie woogie with their respective jazz slants.

- Gained a large following among mods in Britain by 1964.

- Walking bass lines, syncopated guitar or piano rhythms (skank), and sometimes jazz-like horn riffs.

- Had a second wave (two tone) in the 80's and again in the 90's with bands like Mighty Mighty Bosstones

- 1966 - Music changed following the hottest ever summer.

- Driving beat has disappeared and with it the limitations its rigid structure had imposed.

- The new slower rhythm introduced a freedom of expression.

- Vocalists benefited greatly from the change, particularly vocal groups, who were finally given the opportunity to bring their harmonies to the fore.

- Appealed to the 'Rude boy' movement
Drums - tight snare, emphasis on the third beat of the bar, sometimes 4 to the floor
More and more studio engineers were re-mixing B-sides of reggae 45 RPM singles, dropping out the vocals and emphasizing the instrumental texture of the song.
Tech features
Reggae music started to use many new instruments and effects during the 1970’s as well as existing effects in new and exciting ways.

Reverb was used previously in rock and roll records but was used to different effect by many reggae artists, big ‘spring reverb’ sounds were used on guitars and keyboards to give the syncopated chords bounce and movement.

Delay (echo) was used by many artists before reggae was heard of however artists (particularly dub artists) used delay in a whole new way, creating vast soundscapes and wacky effects by altering the feedback and timing of the delay units.

Synthesizers have been used in reggae for many years and again are favored by dub artists because of the strange and mangled sounds that could be produced through the units, add this to the spacey reverb and delay, you can create a truly unique sound
'Rocksteady'comes from the name of the first single of this genre:

'Rocksteady' by Alton Ellis 1967

Lasted until 1968 when musicians began to slow down the tempo even more and add more effects, launching a new genre = Reggae.

Plays a very dominant role in reggae, and the drum and bass is often called the riddim (rhythm).
The bass sound in reggae is thick and heavy, and equalized so the upper frequencies are removed and the lower frequencies emphasized. The bass line is often a simple two-bar riff that is centered on its thickest and heaviest note.
The rhythm guitar in reggae usually plays the chords on beats two and four, a musical figure known as skank. It has a very dampened, short and scratchy chop sound, almost like a percussion instrument.
Sometimes a double chop is used when the guitar still plays the off beats, but also plays the following 8th beats on the up-stroke. An example is the intro to "Stir It Up" by The Wailers.
The reggae-organ shuffle is unique to reggae. Typically, a Hammond organ-style sound is used to play chords with a choppy feel. This is known as the bubble.
Horn sections are frequently used in reggae, often playing introductions, syncopated chords and counter-melodies.
Instruments included in a typical reggae horn section include saxophone, trumpet or trombone. In more recent times, real horns are sometimes replaced in reggae by synthesizers or recorded samples.
Many reggae songs promote the use of cannabis, considered a sacrament in the Rastafari movement. There are many artists who utilize religious themes in their music whether it is discussing a religious topic, or simply giving praise to the Rastafari God Jah.
Other common socio-political topics in reggae songs include Black Nationalism, anti-racism, anti-colonialism, anti-capitalism or criticism of political systems and "Babylon".

Engineers became more and more skilled at refining the instrumental textures, especially when they began to employ sophisticated studio devices.

Eventually, "dub" became an art form of its own. The first dub singles appeared in 1971, the man generally credited with "inventing" the genre is Osbourne Ruddock, better known as King Tubby, a recording engineer who in 1970 had accidentally discovered the appeal of stripping a song of its vocal track, and who engineered the first dub record, Carl Patterson's Psalm Of Dub (1971).
When he got together with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, Blackboard Jungle (1973) was born: the first stereo "dub" album. It was a revolution: the engineer and the producer had become more important than the composer. It also marked the terminal point of the "slowing down" of Jamaican music, dub was like a slow-motion version.
Bob Marley
Dennis Brown
Gregory Isaacs
Jimmy Cliff

Toots and the maytals
Desmond Dekker
Prince Buster

Alton Ellis
The Heptones
Ken Boothe

Lee 'Scratch' Perry
King Tubby
Augustus Pablo
Aims and objectives
- To identify stylistic features of Reggae Music

- To extend and develop knowledge of Reggae and Dub

- To study technical features of Reggae and Dub

- To be able to answer exam questions on Reggae and Dub
Activity 1
Group 1: Laurel Aitken (Ska)
Group 2: Desmond Dekker (Ska)
Group 3: Skatalites (Ska)
Group 4: Alton Ellis (Rocksteady)
Group 5: The Heptones (Rocksteady)
Group 6: Derrick Morgan (Rocksteady)

Research your given artist and produce a powerpoint presentation including clips of their most popular songs

Origins +
- Blues and R&B were influences musically and socially
- Jamaican calypso music
called 'mento' started
mixing folk with some of
these R&B rhythms
- This gave birth to Ska
Rocksteady, Reggae and
- All the above are connected to the rastafarianism movement which influenced artists and musicians
Ensure your presentation is 4 minutes long and includes:

- Contribution to Reggae Music (Ska / Rocksteady)
- Years of prominence
- Influences
- Most popular songs / albums
- Instrumentation
- Cultural / Social background
- Record label
- Main lyrical matter

Activity 1
Group 1: Alton Ellis (Rocksteady)
Group 2: The Heptones (Rocksteady)
Group 3: Ken Boothe (Rocksteady)
Group 4: Toots and the Maytals (Ska)
Group 5: Desmond Dekker (Ska)
Group 6: Skatalites (Ska)
Group 7: Prince Buster (Ska)

Research your given artist and produce a powerpoint presentation including clips of their most popular songs

With your given artist you will research:

- The common drum rhtyhms
- The guitar rhythm
- What are the keyboards doing?
- Whats the characteristics of the vocals
Full transcript