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REGGAE MUSIC AND RASTAFARI MOVEMENT

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REGGAE MUSIC AND RASTAFARI MOVEMENT

Post by Admin on Mon May 22, 2017 2:20 pm

THE HISTORY OF REGGAE MUSIC, THE SPIRIT OF JAH

Reggae (/ˈrɛɡeɪ/) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its diaspora.[1] 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.[2][3] While sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to most types of popular Jamaican dance music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that was strongly influenced by traditional mento as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues, especially the New Orleans R&B practiced by Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint, and evolved out of the earlier genres ska and rocksteady.[4] 
Reggae usually relates news, social gossip, and political comment. Reggae spread into a commercialized jazz field, being known first as ‘Rudie Blues’, then ‘Ska’, later ‘Blue Beat’, and ‘Rock Steady’.[5] It is instantly recognizable from the counterpoint between the bass and drum downbeat, and the offbeat rhythm section. The immediate origins of reggae were in ska and rock steady; from the latter, reggae took over the use of the bass as a percussion instrument.[6]

Stylistically, reggae incorporates some of the musical elements of rhythm and bluesjazzmento (a celebratory, rural folk form that served its largely rural audience as dance music and an alternative to the hymns and adapted chanteys of local church singing),[7] calypso,[8] African music, as well as other genres. One of the most easily recognizable elements is offbeat rhythms; staccato chords played by a guitar or piano (or both) on the offbeats of the measure. The tempo of reggae is usually slower than ska but faster than rocksteady.[9] 
The concept of "call and response" can be found throughout reggae music.
The genre of reggae music is led by the drum and bass.[10][11] Some key players in this sound are Jackie Jackson from Toots and the Maytals,[12] Carlton Barrett from Bob Marley and the Wailers,[13] Lloyd Brevett from The Skatalites,[14]Paul Douglas from Toots and the Maytals,[15] Lloyd Knibb from The Skatalites,[16] Winston Grennan,[17] Sly Dunbar,[18]and Anthony "Benbow" Creary from The Upsetters.[19] The bass guitar often plays the dominant role in reggae. The bass sound in reggae is thick and heavy, and equalized so the upper frequencies are removed and the lower frequencies emphasized. The guitar in reggae usually plays on the off beat of the rhythm. It is common for reggae to be sung in Jamaican PatoisJamaican English, and Iyaric dialects. Reggae is noted for its tradition of social criticism and religion in its lyrics,[20] although many reggae songs discuss lighter, more personal subjects, such as love and socializing.
Reggae has spread to many countries across the world, often incorporating local instruments and fusing with other genres. Reggae en Español spread from the mainland South America countries of Venezuela and Guyana to the rest of South America. Caribbean music in the United Kingdom, including reggae, has been popular since the late 1960s, and has evolved into several subgenres and fusions. Many reggae artists began their careers in the UK, and there have been a number of European artists and bands drawing their inspiration directly from Jamaica and the Caribbean community in Europe. Reggae in Africa was boosted by the visit of Bob Marley to Zimbabwe in 1980. In Jamaica, authentic reggae is one of the biggest sources of income.[21]

Etymology[edit]

The 1967 edition of the Dictionary of Jamaican English lists reggae as "a recently estab. sp. for rege", as in rege-rege, a word that can mean either "rags, ragged clothing" or "a quarrel, a row".[22] Reggae as a musical term first appeared in print with the 1968 rocksteady hit "Do the Reggay" by The Maytals which named the genre of Reggae for the world.
Reggae historian Steve Barrow credits Clancy Eccles with altering the Jamaican patois word streggae (loose woman) into reggae.[23] However, Toots Hibbert said:
There's a word we used to use in Jamaica called 'streggae'. If a girl is walking and the guys look at her and say 'Man, she's streggae' it means she don't dress well, she look raggedy. The girls would say that about the men too. This one morning me and my two friends were playing and I said, 'OK man, let's do the reggay.' It was just something that came out of my mouth. So we just start singing 'Do the reggay, do the reggay' and created a beat. People tell me later that we had given the sound its name. Before that people had called it blue-beat and all kind of other things. Now it's in the Guinness World of Records.[24]

Bob Marley is said to have claimed that the word reggae came from a Spanish term for "the king's music".[25] The liner notes of To the King, a compilation of Christian gospel reggae, suggest that the word reggae was derived from the Latin regi meaning "to the king".

Precursors[edit]

Although strongly influenced by traditional mento and calypso music, as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues, reggae owes its direct origins to the ska and rocksteady of 1960s Jamaica. The generic title for Jamaican music recorded between 1961 and 1967, ska emerged from Jamaican R&B, which itself was largely based on American R&B and doo-wop.[26] Rastafari entered some countries primarily through reggae music; thus, the movement in these places is more particularly stamped by its origins in reggae music and social milieu.[27] The Rastafari movement was a significant influence on reggae, with Rasta drummers like Count Ossie taking part in seminal recordings.[28] One of the predecessors of reggae drumming is the Nyabinghi rhythm, a style of ritual drumming performed as a communal meditative practice in the Rastafarian life.[29]
Ska arose in Jamaican studios in the late 1950s, developing from American R&B, mento and calypso music.[23] Ska is characterized by a quarter note walking bass line, guitar and piano offbeats, and a drum pattern with cross-stick snare and bass drum on the backbeat and open hi-hat on the offbeats (with nothing on beats one and three). It is also notable for its jazz-influenced horn riffs. Jamaica gained its independence in 1962, and ska became the music of choice for Jamaican youths seeking music that was their own. Ska also became popular among mods in Britain.
In the mid-1960s, Rocksteady emerged, a genre slower than ska featuring more romantic lyrics and less prominent horns.[30] The name was later solidified after the release of a single by Alton Ellis. There are many theories as to why Jamaican musicians slowed the ska tempo to create rocksteady; one is that the singer Hopeton Lewis was unable to sing his hit song "Take It Easy" at a ska tempo.[23] Many rocksteady rhythms were later used as the basis of reggae recordings. The "double skank" guitar strokes on the offbeat were also part of the new reggae style.

History[edit]

Reggae developed from ska and rocksteady in the 1960s. Larry And Alvin’s ‘Nanny Goat’ and the Beltones’ ‘No More Heartaches’ competed for the status of first reggae record. The beat was distinctive from rocksteady in that it dropped any of the pretensions to the smooth, soulful sound that characterized slick American R&B, and instead was closer in kinship to US southern funk, being heavily dependent on the rhythm section to drive it along.Reggae’s great advantage was its almost limitless flexibility: from the early, jerky sound of Lee Perry’s ‘People Funny Boy’, to the uptown sounds of Third World’s ‘Now That We’ve Found Love’, it was an enormous leap through the years and styles, yet both are instantly recognizable as reggae.[31] The shift from rocksteady to reggae was illustrated by the organ shuffle pioneered by Jamaican musicians like Jackie Mittoo and Winston Wright and featured in transitional singles "Say What You're Saying" (1968) by Eric "Monty" Morris and "People Funny Boy" (1968) by Lee "Scratch" PerryThe Pioneers' 1968 track "Long Shot (Bus' Me Bet)" has been identified as the earliest recorded example of the new rhythm sound that became known as reggae.[32]

Early 1968 was when the first bona fide reggae records were released: "Nanny Goat" by Larry Marshall and "No More Heartaches" by The Beltones. That same year, the newest Jamaican sound began to spawn big-name imitators in other countries. American artist Johnny Nash's 1968 hit "Hold Me Tight" has been credited with first putting reggae in the American listener charts. Around the same time, reggae influences were starting to surface in rock and pop music, one example being 1968's "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" by The Beatles.[33]

The Wailers, a band started by Bob MarleyPeter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in 1963, is perhaps the most recognized band that made the transition through all three stages of early Jamaican popular music: ska, rocksteady and reggae. Over a dozen Wailers songs are based on or use a line from Jamaican mento songs. In 1951, recordings of mento music began to be released. These recordings showcased two styles of mento: an acoustic, rural style and a jazzy, popular style.[34] Other significant reggae pioneers include Prince BusterDesmond Dekker and Ken Boothe.
However, another pioneer was Millie Small (born 6 October 1946),[35] a Jamaican singer-songwriter, best known for her 1964 blue-beat/ska cover version of "My Boy Lollipop" which was a smash hit internationally.
Notable Jamaican producers influential in the development of ska into rocksteady and reggae include: Coxsone DoddLee "Scratch" PerryLeslie KongDuke ReidJoe Gibbs and King TubbyChris Blackwell, who founded Island Records in Jamaica in 1960,[36] relocated to England in 1962, where he continued to promote Jamaican music. He formed a partnership with Lee Gopthal's Trojan Records in 1968, which released reggae in the UK until bought by Saga records in 1974.
Reggae's influence bubbled to the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts in late 1972. First Three Dog Night hit #1 in September with a cover of the Maytones' version of "Black and White". Then Johnny Nash was at #1 for four weeks in November with "I Can See Clearly Now". Paul Simon's single "Mother And Child Reunion" - a track which he recorded in Kingston, Jamaica with Jimmy Cliff's backing group - was ranked by Billboard as the No. 57 song of 1972.
In 1973, the film The Harder They Come starring Jimmy Cliff was released and introduced Jamaican music to cinema audiences outside of Jamaica.[37] Though the film achieved cult status its limited appeal meant that it had a smaller impact than Eric Clapton's 1974 cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" which made it onto the playlists of mainstream rock and pop radio stations worldwide. Clapton's "I Shot The Sheriff" used modern rock production and recording techniques and faithfully retained most of the original reggae elements; it was a breakthrough pastiche devoid of any parody and played an important part in bringing the music of Bob Marley to a wider rock audience.[23] By the mid-1970s, authentic reggae dub plates and specials were getting some exposure in the UK on John Peel's radio show, who promoted the genre for the rest of his career.[38] Around the same time, British filmmaker Jeremy Marre documented the Jamaican music scene in Roots Rock Reggae, capturing the heyday of Roots reggae.[39]
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the UK punk rock scene flourished, and reggae was a notable influence. The DJ Don Letts would play reggae and punk tracks at clubs such as The Roxy. Punk bands such as The ClashThe RutsThe Members and The Slits played many reggae-influenced songs. Around the same time, reggae music took a new path in the UK; one that was created by the multiracial makeup of England's inner cities and exemplified by groups like Steel PulseAswad and UB40, as well as artists such as Smiley Culture and Carroll Thompson. The Jamaican ghetto themes in the lyrics were replaced with UK inner city themes, and Jamaican patois became intermingled with Cockney slang. In South London around this time, a new subgenre of Lovers Rock, was being created. Unlike the Jamaican music of the same name which was mainly dominated by male artists such as Gregory Isaacs, the South London genre was led by female singers like Thompson and Janet Kay. The UK Lovers Rock had a softer and more commercial sound.Other reggae artists who enjoyed international appeal in the early 1980s include Third WorldBlack Uhuru and Sugar Minott. The Grammy Awards introduced the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album category in 1985.
Females also play a role in the reggae music industry personnel such as Olivia Grange, president of Specs-Shang Musik; Trish Farrell, president of Island/Jamaica; Lisa Cortes, president of Loose Cannon; Jamaican-American Sharon Gordon, who has worked in the independent reggae music industry.[40]

Reggae Month[edit]

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding made February 2008 the first annual Reggae Month in Jamaica. To celebrate, the Recording Industry Association of Jamaica (RIAJam) held its first Reggae Academy Awards on February 24, 2008. In addition, Reggae Month included a six-day Global Reggae conference, a reggae film festival, two radio station award functions, and a concert tribute to the late Dennis Brown, who Bob Marley cited as his favorite singer. On the business side, RIAJam held events focused on reggae's employment opportunities and potential international revenue.[41]

Musical characteristics[edit]


Skank guitar rhythm often considered "'the' reggae beat"[42] Play straight (help·info) or  Play shuffle (help·info).

Stylistically, reggae incorporates some of the musical elements of rhythm and blues (R&B), jazzmentocalypso, African, and Latin American music, as well as other genres. Reggae scenes consist of two guitars, one for rhythm and one for lead—drums, congas, and keyboards, with a couple vocalists.[43] Reggae is played in 44 time because the symmetrical rhythmic pattern does not lend itself to other time signatures such as 34. One of the most easily recognizable elements is offbeat rhythms; staccato chords played by a guitar or piano (or both) on the offbeats of the measure, often referred to as the skank.[44]
This rhythmic pattern accents the second and fourth beats in each bar and combines with the drum's emphasis on beat three to create a unique sense of phrasing. The reggae offbeat can be counted so that it falls between each count as an "and" (example: 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, etc.) or counted as a half-time feel at twice the tempo so it falls on beats 2 and 4. This is in contrast to the way most other popular genres focus on beat one, the "downbeat".[45]

The tempo of reggae is usually slower than ska but faster than rocksteady.[9] It is this slower tempo, the guitar/piano offbeats, the emphasis on the third beat, and the use of syncopated, melodic bass lines that differentiate reggae from other music, although other musical styles have incorporated some of these innovations.
Harmonically the music is essentially the same as any other modern popular genre with a tendency to make use of simple chord progressions. Reggae sometimes uses the dominant chord in its minor form therefore never allowing a perfect cadence to be sounded; this lack of resolution between the tonic and the dominant imparts a sense of movement "without rest" and harmonic ambiguity. Extended chords like the major seventh chord ("Waiting in Vain" by Bob Marley) and minor seventh chord are used though suspended chords or diminished chords are rare. Minor keys are commonly used especially with the minor chord forms of the subdominant and dominant chord (for example in the key of G minor the progression may be played Gm – Dm – Gm – Dm – Cm – Dm – Cm – Dm). A simple progression borrowed from rhythm and blues and soul music is the tonic chord followed by the minor supertonic chord with the two chords repeated continuously to form a complete verse ("Just My Imagination" by The Temptations C – Dm7).
The concept of "call and response" can be found throughout reggae music, in the vocals but also in the way parts are composed and arranged for each instrument. The emphasis on the "third beat" of the bar also results in a different sense of musical phrasing, with bass lines and melody lines often emphasizing what might be considered "pick up notes" in other genres.

Drums and other percussion[edit]


A standard drum kit is generally used in reggae, but the snare drum is often tuned very high to give it a timbales-type sound. Some reggae drummers use an additional timbale or high-tuned snare to get this sound. Cross-stick technique on the snare drum is commonly used, and tom-tom drums are often incorporated into the drumbeat itself.
Robbie Shakespeare

Reggae drumbeats fall into three main categories: One dropRockers, and Steppers. With the One drop, the emphasis is entirely on the backbeat (usually on the snare, or as a rim shot combined with bass drum). Beat one is empty except for a closed high hat commonly used, which is unusual in popular music. There is some controversy about whether reggae should be counted so that this beat falls on two and four, or whether it should be counted twice as fast, so it falls on three. An example played by Barrett can be heard in the Bob Marley and the Wailers song "One Drop". Barrett often used an unusual triplet cross-rhythm on the hi-hat, which can be heard on many recordings by Bob Marley and the Wailers, such as "Running Away" on the Kaya album.
Sly Dunbar

An emphasis on the backbeat is found in all reggae drumbeats, but with the Rockers beat, the emphasis is on all four beats of the bar (usually on bass drum). This beat was pioneered by Sly and Robbie, who later helped create the "Rub-a-Dub" sound that greatly influenced dancehall. Sly has stated he was influenced to create this style by listening to American drummer Earl Young as well as other disco and R&B drummers in the early to mid-1970s, as stated in the book "Wailing Blues". The prototypical example of the style is found in Sly Dunbar's drumming on "Right Time" by the Mighty Diamonds. The Rockers beat is not always straightforward, and various syncopations are often included. An example of this is the Black Uhuru song "Sponji Reggae".
In Steppers, the bass drum plays every quarter beat of the bar, giving the beat an insistent drive. An example is "Exodus" by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Another common name for the Steppers beat is the "four on the floor". Burning Spear's 1975 song "Red, Gold, and Green" (with Leroy Wallace on drums) is one of the earliest examples. The Steppers beat was adopted (at a much higher tempo) by some 2 Tone ska revival bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
An unusual characteristic of reggae drumming is that the drum fills often do not end with a climactic cymbal. A wide range of other percussion instrumentation are used in reggae. Bongos are often used to play free, improvised patterns, with heavy use of African-style cross-rhythms. Cowbells, claves and shakers tend to have more defined roles and a set pattern.
Reggae drummers often involved these three tips for other reggae performers: (1) go for open, ringing tones when playing ska and rocksteady, (2) use any available material to stuff the bass drum so that it tightens up the kick to a deep, punchy thud, and (3) go without a ride cymbal, focusing on the hi-hat for timekeeping and thin crashes with fast decay for accents.[46]


Bass[edit]

Aston Barret

The bass guitar often plays the dominant role in reggae, and the drum and bass is often the most important part of what is called, in Jamaican music, a riddim (rhythm), a (usually simple) piece of music that's used repeatedly by different artists to write and record songs with. Literally hundreds of reggae singers have released different songs recorded over the same rhythm. The central role of the bass can be particularly heard in dub music — which gives an even bigger role to the drum and bass line, reducing the vocals and other instruments to peripheral roles.
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 repeated two or four bar riff when simple chord progressions are used. The simplest example of this might be Robbie Shakespeare's bass line for the Black Uhuru hit "Shine Eye Gal". In the case of more complex harmonic structures, such as John Holt's version of "Stranger In Love", these simpler patterns are altered to follow the chord progression either by directly moving the pattern around or by changing some of the interior notes in the phrase to better support the chords.

Guitars[edit]

Al Anderson

The guitar in reggae usually plays on the off beat of the rhythm. So if one is counting in 44 time and counting 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +, one would play a downstroke on the "and" part of the beat.[47] A musical figure known as skank or the 'bang" 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 eighth-note beats on the up-stroke. An example is the intro to "Stir It Up" by The Wailers. Artist and producer Derrick Harriott says, “What happened was the musical thing was real widespread, but only among a certain sort of people. It was always a down-town thing, but more than just hearing the music. The equipment was so powerful and the vibe so strong that we feel it.”[48]

Keyboards[edit]

From the earliest days of Ska recordings, a piano was used to double the rhythm guitar's skank, playing the chords in a staccato style to add body, and playing occasional extra beats, runs and riffs. The piano part was widely taken over by synthesizers during the 1980s, although synthesizers have been used in a peripheral role since the 1970s to play incidental melodies and countermelodies. Larger bands may include either an additional keyboardist, to cover or replace horn and melody lines, or the main keyboardist filling these roles on two or more keyboards.
The reggae organ-shuffle is unique to reggae. In the original version of reggae, the drummer played a reggae groove that was used in the four bar introduction, allowing the piano to serve as a percussion instrument.[49] Typically, a Hammond organ-style sound is used to play chords with a choppy feel. This is known as the bubble. This may be the most difficult reggae keyboard rhythm. The organ bubble can be broken down into 2 basic patterns. In the first, the 8th beats are played with a space-left-right-left-space-left-right-left pattern, where the spaces represent downbeats not played—that and the left-right-left falls on the ee-and-a, or and-2-and if counted at double time. In the second basic pattern, the left hand plays a double chop as described in the guitar section while the right hand plays longer notes on beat 2 (or beat 3 if counted at double time) or a syncopated pattern between the double chops. Both these patterns can be expanded on and improvised embellishments are sometimes used.


Horns[edit]

Horn sections are frequently used in reggae, often playing introductions 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. The horn section is often arranged around the first horn, playing a simple melody or counter melody. The first horn is usually accompanied by the second horn playing the same melodic phrase in unison, one octave higher. The third horn usually plays the melody an octave and a fifth higher than the first horn. The horns are generally played fairly softly, usually resulting in a soothing sound. However, sometimes punchier, louder phrases are played for a more up-tempo and aggressive sound.


Vocals[edit]


UB40's former frontman Ali Campbell performing in 2009.

The vocals in reggae are less of a defining characteristic of the genre than the instrumentation and rhythm, as almost any song can be performed in a reggae style. However, it is very common for reggae to be sung in Jamaican PatoisJamaican English, and Iyaric dialects. Vocal harmony parts are often used, either throughout the melody (as with vocal groups such as the Mighty Diamonds), or as a counterpoint to the main vocal line (as with the backing vocalists, the I-Threes). More complex vocal arrangements can be found in the works of groups like The Abyssinians and British reggae band Steel Pulse.
An unusual aspect of reggae singing is that many singers use tremolo (volume oscillation) rather than vibrato (pitch oscillation). Notable exponents of this technique include Horace Andy and vocal group Israel Vibration. The toasting vocal style is unique to reggae, originating when DJs improvised spoken introductions to songs (or "toasts") to the point where it became a distinct rhythmic vocal style, and is generally considered to be a precursor to rap. It differs from rap mainly in that it is generally melodic, while rap is generally more a spoken form without melodic content.


Lyrical themes[edit]

Reggae is noted for its tradition of social criticism in its lyrics, although many reggae songs discuss lighter, more personal subjects, such as love and socializing. Many early reggae bands covered Motown or Atlantic soul and funk songs. Some reggae lyrics attempt to raise the political consciousness of the audience, such as by criticizing materialism, or by informing the listener about controversial subjects such as Apartheid. Many reggae songs promote the use of cannabis (also known as herbganja, or sinsemilla), considered a sacrament in the Rastafari movement. There are many artists who utilize religious themes in their music — whether it be discussing a specific religious topic, or simply giving praise to God (Jah). Other common socio-political topics in reggae songs include black nationalismanti-racism, anti-colonialism,[50] anti-capitalism and criticism of political systems and "Babylon".
In recent years, Jamaican (and non-Jamaican) reggae musicians have used more positive themes in reggae music. The music is widely considered a treasured cultural export for Jamaica, so musicians who still desire progress for their island nation have begun focusing on themes of hopefulness, faith, and love. For elementary children, reggae songs such as "Give a Little Love," "One Love," or "Three Little Birds," all written by Bob Marley, can be sung and enjoyed for their optimism and cheerful lyrics.[51]
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