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The Evolution Of Reggae Music Essay

1103 words - 4 pages

The Evolution of Reggae Music

Reggae has sustained the test of time and remains one of the world's
last genuine folk music. The evolution of Reggae music can be traced
back to the early 1900's with 'Mento', which is a simple music art
form of Jamaican folk music with strong African roots. Reggae music is
protest songs against racism, corruption and injustice. It has close
links with a religion based around the Bible that is re-interpreted
from a black's perspective, 'Rastafarianism'.

The key features of Reggae music are the 4/4 time signatures, the
emphasised beats 2 and 4 of each bar melody, the short repeated
bass/guitar riffs, the syncopation, the pentatonic/ major/minor/blues
scales used, the blues notes present in melody, the involvement of
bass guitar and drum kit, the simple chord progression that is
repeated throughout song and most importantly, the emotional lyrics
about politics, freedom, poverty and religion (Rastafarianism)

Reggae was popular in both urban and rural areas. In the 30's and
early 40's, 'Mento' was referred to as "Jamaican Rumba", and "Mango
Walk" was an example of a popular hit then. In the 1950's Mento music
was subsequently classified as "Calypso".

Next, the late 50's and early 60's was the evolvement of "Ska". Being
a Jamaican musician's interpretation of R&B, Ska changed the emphasis
from the first and third beats of a piece of music, to the second and
fourth beats. The new offbeat style became the identity mark of
Jamaican music.

First Ska, then came Rock Steady, developing into what is now known as
Reggae. Reggae involves the deliberate upstroke of the guitar, a
strummed beat and a dominant vocal style. The strumming sound made by
the guitar in the music's beat is what distinguishes a piece of Reggae

The first ever reggae tune was "Nanny Goat", by Larry and Alvin.
Millie Small, and her debut single "My Boy Lollipop" was the perfect
example of the success that this new generation of peppy horn melodies
and up tempo vocal sounds. "My Boy Lollipop" was the song responsible
for creating a massive explosion of Reggae music in the local
industry. During the Reggae era, artists like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh
and Bunny Wailer, Jimmy Cliff, King Stich and Burning Spear started to
emerge and incorporate the offbeat syncopated music style of Reggae
into their songs, transforming the songs into popular hits. Bob Marley
was born in 1945 and he first joined Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer to
form 'The Wailers'. Then he produced his own soul, rock steady
(romantic soul), ska and close harmony 'doo-wop' style songs, for
example 'Catch a fire' and 'I shot the Sheriff'.

With the war era of the 60's approaching, reggae finally took form
with a mellow beat, conscious and emotional lyrics and bands...

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