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An Overview Of Reggae Music Essay

1255 words - 5 pages

Reggae is a genre of music that originated in Jamaica during the late 1960s. It is known for the heavy and strong emphasis on the bass within the background beat. Reggae was perceived as a kind of music used to express feelings about the social, political, and economic hardships in Jamaica during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was performed by musicians from black ghettos who used unhurried beats to make a style of music of their own. Reggae became an important part of the lifestyle of many Caribbean islanders; expressing a sense of pride of their Caribbean culture.
Reggae was developed from ska and rocky steady. Ska consists of elements of Caribbean and mento, calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. It is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the upbeat. Rocky steady uses musical elements such as jazz, R&B, African and Latin drumming and other genres. It is noticeable by the counted off beats with a slow tempo. A reggae beat is most distinguishable by having a slow tempo, bass beat within the background with an up-tempo beat over it. If you count 1 2 3 4 to the beats, the instrument’s accent is played on the off beats; giving it a relaxed sound. Reggae music consists of a relatively small variety of instruments because of its distinct sound. Bass drums, drum symbols, and guitars are the most common instruments used to play reggae songs. Bongos are used to play broken patterns with the usage of African style rhythms.
An important factor to understanding Reggae music is having knowledge about the history of Jamaica. In 1962, Jamaica gained its independence from the British. Around that time, reggae music began to become prominent within the music industry. The most important form of reggae was called roots reggae. Roots reggae was a sub-genre of reggae that dealt with the everyday lives of ghetto sufferers and the rural poor. “From the shantytowns of Kingston, Jamaica, to the cobblestones streets of Great Britain, reggae music was a powerful and liberating voice for the poor and oppressed. In the last thirty years, reggae stars Bob Marley, Burning Spear, and Alpha Blondy have sung “redemption” songs- messages of human rights and universal love in a “Babylonian” world of civil unrest, political instability, and economic collapse”(Bays, King, and Foster, 2002, p. XI). Bob Marley was the most famous reggae artist to bring popularity upon the music; selling over 20 million records worldwide. His songs such as “One Love” and “Redemption Song” were inspired by the effects of oppression upon blacks in Jamaica. Marley's persona for unity and peace among people throughout the world was an inspiration for Jamaicans. Most blacks in Jamaica during the 1960s suffered from economic hardships and racial discrimination. This in turn marked the beginning of a religious movement called Rastafarinism where reggae music was an element that distinguished Rastafarians from the rest of society. According to Chang and Chen,...

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