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Sunday, 23 July 2017


Reggae has been the predominant form of Jamaican music since the 1970s. The genre is characterized by a heavily accented onbeat.

Ska is a music genre that combines elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. It originated in 1950s Jamaica and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae.

Ska developed in the 1960s when Jamaican musicians such as Prince Buster, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, and Duke Reid formed sound systems to play American rhythm and blues and then began recording their own songs.

In ska, the singer does a style of Jamaican singing called "toasting." When a singer is "toasting", they make sounds, repeat words, invent rhymes, and shout into the microphone. The Jamaican "toasting" style of singing and talking was a significant influence on rap music in the 1980s.

Jamaican vocal trio the Folkes Brothers' 1960 recording of "Oh Carolina" was a landmark single in the development of Jamaican modern music. The Prince Buster-produced recording marked the beginning of Jamaican musicians mixing native beats, gospel, ska and American R&B, eventually forming reggae.

Rocksteady, the earliest form of reggae, emerged as a genre in 1966 with the success of performers like Alton Ellis. His hit single "Get Ready - Rock Steady" is arguably the first rocksteady recording; its stylistic uniqueness is due to the bassist not showing up for the recording session, necessitating the keyboardist to play the bass part.

Alton Ellis performing live in 2007

As a popular musical style, rocksteady was short-lived; its heyday only lasted about two years, from 1966 until 1968. Despite its short lifespan, rocksteady's influence is great. Many reggae singers grew out of rocksteady groups.

Following rocksteady, Roots reggae becomes the dominant sound in Jamaica, with Bob Marley & the Wailers leading the way towards a new, distinctively Jamaican fusion of folk, R&B, rock and ska .

Bob Marley live in concert in Dalymount Park on 6 July 1980.

A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals, "Do the Reggay" was the first popular song to use the word "reggae," effectively naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience.

Until Toots and the Maytals recorded the single, "reggay" had been the name of a passing dance fashion in Jamaica. However, the song's connection of the word with the music itself led to its use for the style of music that developed from it.

Toots and the Maytals By Celaur - 

It is common for reggae to be sung in Jamaican Patois, Jamaican English, and Iyaric dialects. The songs are generally about poverty, politics, and Rastafarianism, the Jamaica-based religious cult.

Ska became popular again in the 1980s in Britain when bands such as The Specials, The English Beat (known just as "The Beat" in England), and Madness achieved huge success with their English take on ska music.

A white guy from Canada has been recorded twice in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the best selling reggae single in US history. Snow's "Informer" recording was #1 on the American Hot 100 charts for seven consecutive weeks.

Source Compton's Encyclopedia

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