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Reggae () is a
music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although in practice these terms are some ...
that originated in
Jamaica Jamaica (; ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or ...

Jamaica
in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its
diaspora A diaspora () is a scattered population whose origin lies in a separate geographic locale. Historically, the word diaspora was used to refer to the mass dispersion of a population from its indigenous territories, specifically the dispersion ...
. A 1968 single by
Toots and the Maytals The Maytals, known from 1972 to 2020 as Toots and the Maytals, are a Jamaican musical group, one of the best known ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is ...

Toots and the Maytals
, "
Do the Reggay "Do the Reggay" is a reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbea ...
" was the first popular song to use the word "reggae", effectively naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience. 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 Mento is a style of Music of Jamaica, Jamaican folk music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. It is a fusion of African rhythmic elements and European elements, which reached peak popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. ...
as well as American
jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre ...
and
rhythm and blues Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B or R'n'B, is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and ...
, and evolved out of the earlier genres
ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although i ...

ska
and
rocksteady Rocksteady is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and tim ...

rocksteady
. Reggae usually relates news, social gossip, and political commentary. 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 rocksteady; from the latter, reggae took over the use of the bass as a percussion instrument. Reggae is deeply linked to
Rastafari Rastafari, also known as the Rastafari movement or Rastafarianism, is a that developed in during the 1930s. It is classified as both a and a by . There is no central authority in control of the movement and much diversity exists among prac ...

Rastafari
, an
Afrocentric Afrocentrism (also Afrocentricity) is an approach to the study of world history that focuses on the history of people of recent Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. A ...
religion which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, aiming at promoting
pan-Africanism Pan-Africanism is a worldwide movement that aims to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity between all indigenous and diaspora ethnic groups of African descent. Based on a common goal dating back to the Atlantic slave trade, the movement ...
. Soon after the Rastafarian movement appeared, the international popularity of reggae music became associated with and increased the visibility of Rastafari and spread its gospel throughout the world. Reggae music is an important means of transporting vital messages of Rastafari. The musician becomes the messenger, and as Rastafari see it, "the soldier and the musician are tools for change." Stylistically, reggae incorporates some of the musical elements of rhythm and blues, jazz, mento (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),
calypso Calypso refers to: *Calypso (mythology), a nymph who, famously in Homer's ''Odyssey'', kept Odysseus with her on her island of Ogygia for seven years. *Calypso (nymphs), other nymphs called Calypso. Calypso may also refer to: Places *Calypso ...
, and also draws influence from traditional African folk rhythms. 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 paced than both ska and rocksteady. The concept of
call and response Call and response is a form of interaction between a speaker and an audience in which the speaker's statements ("calls") are punctuated by responses from the listeners. This form is also used in music, where it falls under the general category of A ...
can be found throughout reggae music. The genre of reggae music is led by the drum and bass. Some key players in this sound are
Jackie Jackson Sigmund Esco "Jackie" Jackson (born May 4, 1951) is an American singer and songwriter best known as a founding member of the Jackson 5. Jackson is the second child of the Jackson family and the oldest Jackson brother. Early life Sigmund Esco J ...
from
Toots and the Maytals The Maytals, known from 1972 to 2020 as Toots and the Maytals, are a Jamaican musical group, one of the best known ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is ...

Toots and the Maytals
,
Carlton Barrett Carlton "Carly" Barrett (17 December 1950 – 17 April 1987) was a Jamaican musician best known for being the long-time drummer for Bob Marley & The Wailers Bob Marley and the Wailers (also known as Bob Marley & the Wailers) were a Jamaican ...
from
Bob Marley and the Wailers Bob Marley and the Wailers (also known as Bob Marley & the Wailers) were a Jamaican reggae band led by Bob Marley. It developed from the earlier ska vocal group, The Wailers, created by Peter Tosh, Marley, and Bunny Wailer in 1963. By lat ...
,
Lloyd Brevett Lloyd Brevett Order of Distinction, OD (1 August 1931 – 3 May 2012) was a Jamaican double bassist, songwriter, and a founding member of The Skatalites. He was a Rastafarian, and the uncle of The Melodians member, Tony Brevett.The Skatalites The Skatalites are a ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody ...
,
Paul Douglas Paul Howard Douglas (March 26, 1892 – September 24, 1976) was an American politician and Georgist Georgism, also called in modern times geoism and known historically as the single tax movement, is an economic ideology holding that, although ...
from
Toots and the Maytals The Maytals, known from 1972 to 2020 as Toots and the Maytals, are a Jamaican musical group, one of the best known ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is ...

Toots and the Maytals
,
Lloyd Knibb Lloyd Knibb Order of Distinction, OD (8 March 1931 – 12 May 2011) was a Jamaican drummer who is considered Jamaica's most important and influential modern drummer. A master percussionist, he contributed to every style of this nation's popular an ...
from
The Skatalites The Skatalites are a ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody ...
,
Winston Grennan Winston Grennan (16 September 1944 – 27 October 2000) was a Jamaican drummer, famous for session work from 1962 to 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica, Jamaica as well as later in New York City through the 1970s and 1980s. Biography Career Grenna ...

Winston Grennan
,
Sly Dunbar Lowell "Sly" Fillmore Dunbar (born 10 May 1952, Kingston, Jamaica) is a drummer, best known as one half of the prolific Jamaican rhythm section and reggae production duo Sly and Robbie. Biography Dunbar began playing at 15 in a band called ...
, and Anthony "Benbow" Creary from
The Upsetters The Upsetters was the name given to the house band A house band is a group of musicians, often centrally organized by a band leader, who regularly play at an establishment. It is widely used to refer both to the bands who work on entertainme ...
. The
bass guitar The bass guitar, electric bass or simply bass, is the lowest-pitched member of the guitar family. It is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an Electric guitar, electric or an acoustic guitar, but with a long ...

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 The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six string instrument, strings. It is held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or Plucked string instrument, plucking the strings with the dominant hand, while sim ...

guitar
in reggae usually plays on the offbeat of the rhythm. It is common for reggae to be sung in
Jamaican Patois Jamaican Patois (), (known locally as Patois, Patwa, and Patwah and called Jamaican Creole by linguists) is an English-based creole language An English-based creole language (often shortened to English creole) is a creole language for which ...
,
Jamaican English Jamaican English, which includes Jamaican Standard English, is a variety of English native to Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles ...
, and
Iyaric 200px, Haile Selassie I Iyaric, also called Dread Talk, is a dialect of English consciously created by members of the Rastafari movement Rastafari, also known as the Rastafari movement or Rastafarianism, is a religion that developed in Jam ...
dialects. Reggae is noted for its tradition of social criticism and religion in its lyrics, although many reggae songs discuss lighter, more personal subjects, such as love and socializing. Reggae has spread to many countries around the world, often incorporating local instruments and fusing with other genres.
Reggae en Español Reggae en Español (in English, Spanish reggae) is reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to ...
spread from the Spanish-speaking Central American country of Panama to the mainland South American countries of
Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continent A continent is any of several large l ...

Venezuela
and
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America and the capital city is Georgetown Guyana, Georgetown. Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the ...

Guyana
then to the rest of South America.
Caribbean music in the United Kingdom People of African descent from the Caribbean have made significant contributions to British Black music for many generations. Trinidadian Calypso Large-scale Caribbean migration to England recommenced following the Second World War in 1948. T ...
, 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 Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category tha ...
to Zimbabwe in 1980. In Jamaica, authentic reggae is one of the biggest sources of income.


Etymology

The 1967 edition of the ''Dictionary of
Jamaican English Jamaican English, which includes Jamaican Standard English, is a variety of English native to Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles ...
'' 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". ''Reggae'' as a musical term first appeared in print with the 1968
rocksteady Rocksteady is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and tim ...

rocksteady
hit "
Do the Reggay "Do the Reggay" is a reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbea ...
" by
The Maytals The Maytals, known from 1972 to 2020 as Toots and the Maytals, are a Jamaican musical group, one of the best known ska and rocksteady vocal groups. The Maytals were formed in the early 1960s and were key figures in popularizing reggae music. Fr ...
which named the genre of Reggae for the world. Reggae historian Steve Barrow credits
Clancy Eccles Clancy Eccles (9 December 1940 in Dean Pen, Saint Mary Parish, Jamaica, St. Mary, Jamaica – 30 June 2005 in Spanish Town, Jamaica)Katz was a Jamaican ska and reggae singer, songwriter, arranger, promoter, record producer and talent scout. Known ...
with altering the
Jamaican patois Jamaican Patois (), (known locally as Patois, Patwa, and Patwah and called Jamaican Creole by linguists) is an English-based creole language An English-based creole language (often shortened to English creole) is a creole language for which ...
word ''streggae'' (loose woman) into ''reggae''. However,
Toots Hibbert Frederick Nathaniel "Toots" Hibbert, (8 December 194211 September 2020) was a Jamaican singer and songwriter who was the lead vocalist for the reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica Jamaica () is an island cou ...

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.
Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category tha ...
claimed that the word ''reggae'' came from a Spanish term for "the king's music". The liner notes of ''To the King'', a compilation of Christian
gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gospel#REDIRECT The gospel In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Te ...
reggae, suggest that the word ''reggae'' was derived from the Latin ''regi'' meaning "to the king".


History


Precursors

Reggae's direct origins are in the
ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although i ...

ska
and
rocksteady Rocksteady is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and tim ...

rocksteady
of 1960s Jamaica, strongly influenced by traditional Caribbean
mento Mento is a style of Music of Jamaica, Jamaican folk music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. It is a fusion of African rhythmic elements and European elements, which reached peak popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. ...
and calypso music, as well as American
jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre ...
and
rhythm and blues Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B or R'n'B, is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and ...
. Ska was originally a generic title for Jamaican music recorded between 1961 and 1967 and emerged from Jamaican R&B, which was based largely on American R&B and doo-wop. Rastafari entered some countries primarily through reggae music; thus, the movement in these places is more stamped by its origins in reggae music and social milieu. The
Rastafari movement Rastafari, also known as the Rastafari movement or Rastafarianism, is a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they ...
was a significant influence on reggae, with Rasta drummers like
Count Ossie Count Ossie, born Oswald Williams (1926 – 18 October 1976),Moskowitz, David V. (2006) ''Caribbean Popular Music: an Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rocksteady, and Dancehall'', Greenwood Press, , p. 317-8 was a Jamaican Rastafari Rasta ...
taking part in seminal recordings. One of the predecessors of reggae drumming is the
Nyabinghi rhythm Nyabinghi, also Nyahbinghi, Niyabinghi, Niyahbinghi, is the gathering of Rastafari people to celebrate and commemorate key dates significant to Rastafari throughout the year. It is essentially an opportunity for the Rastafari to congregate and enga ...
, a style of ritual drumming performed as a communal meditative practice in the Rastafarian life. In the latter half of the 20th century,
phonograph records A phonograph disc record (also known as a gramophone disc record, especially in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language fir ...

phonograph records
became of central importance to the Jamaican music industry, playing a significant cultural and economic role in the development of reggae music. "In the early 1950s, Jamaican entrepreneurs began issuing 78s" but this format would soon be superseded by the 7" single, first released in 1949. In 1951 the first recordings of mento music were released as singles and showcased two styles of mento: an acoustic rural style, and a jazzy pop style. Other 7" singles to appear in Jamaica around this time were covers of popular American R&B hits, made by Kingston
sound systemSound system may refer to: Technology * Sound reinforcement system, a system for amplifying audio for an audience * High fidelity, a sound system intended for accurate reproduction of music in the home * Public address system, an institutional speec ...
operators to be played at public dances. Meanwhile, Jamaican
expatriate An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person residing in a country other than their native country. In common usage, the term often refers to professionals, skilled workers, or artists taking positions outside their home country, eit ...
s started issuing 45s on small independent labels in the United Kingdom, many mastered directly from Jamaican 45s. Ska arose in Jamaican studios in the late 1950s, developing from this mix of American R&B,
mento Mento is a style of Music of Jamaica, Jamaican folk music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. It is a fusion of African rhythmic elements and European elements, which reached peak popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. ...
and calypso music. Notable for its jazz-influenced horn riffs, ska is characterized by a quarter note
walking bass A bassline (also known as a bass line or bass part) is the term used in many styles of music, such as jazz, blues, funk, Dub music, dub and electronic music, electronic, traditional music, or classical music for the low-pitched Part (music), ins ...

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. When Jamaica gained independence in 1962, ska became the music of choice for young Jamaicans seeking music that was their own. Ska also became popular among mods in Britain. In the mid-1960s, ska gave rise to
rocksteady Rocksteady is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and tim ...

rocksteady
, a genre slower than ska featuring more romantic lyrics and less prominent horns. Theories abound 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. The name "rocksteady" was codified after the release of a single by
Alton Ellis Alton Nehemiah Ellis (1 September 1938 – 10 October 2008)Godfather ...
. Many rocksteady rhythms later were used as the basis of reggae recordings, whose slower tempos allowed for the "double skank" guitar strokes on the offbeat.


Emergence in Jamaica

Reggae developed from
ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although i ...

ska
and
rocksteady Rocksteady is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and tim ...

rocksteady
in the late 1960s. Larry And Alvin's "Nanny Goat" and the Beltones’ "No More Heartaches" were among the songs in the genre. 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. The shift from rocksteady to reggae was illustrated by the organ
shuffle Shuffling is a procedure used to randomize a deck of playing card A playing card is a piece of specially prepared card stock, heavy paper, thin cardboard, plastic-coated paper, cotton-paper blend, or thin plastic that is marked with distingui ...
pioneered by Jamaican musicians like
Jackie Mittoo Donat Roy Mittoo (3 March 1948 – 16 December 1990), better known as Jackie Mittoo, was a Jamaican-Canadian keyboardist, songwriter and musical director. He was a member of The Skatalites and musical director of the Studio One (record label), St ...
and Winston Wright and featured in transitional singles "Say What You're Saying" (1968) by
Eric "Monty" Morris Eric "Monty" Morris (born c.1942)Campbell, Howard (2016)Eric 'Monty' Morris to perform at Grace Jerk Festival, ''Jamaica Observer ''Jamaica Observer'' is a daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication co ...
and "People Funny Boy" (1968) by
Lee "Scratch" Perry Lee "Scratch" Perry (born Rainford Hugh Perry; 20 March 1936 or 28 March 1936) is a Jamaican record producer and singer noted for his innovative studio techniques and production style. Perry was a pioneer in the 1970s development of dub music wi ...

Lee
. 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 John Lester “Johnny” Nash Jr. (August 19, 1940October 6, 2020) was an American singer-songwriter, best known in the United States for his 1972 hit "I Can See Clearly Now". Primarily a reggae and pop singer, he was one of the first non-Jama ...

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 Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemical composition and the way in w ...
and
pop music Pop is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical tra ...
, one example being 1968's "
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is a song by the English Rock music, rock band the Beatles from their 1968 double album ''The Beatles (album), The Beatles'' (also known as "the White Album"). It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McC ...
" by
The Beatles The Beatles were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compou ...

The Beatles
.
The Wailers ''The'' () is a grammatical Article (grammar), article in English language, English, denoting persons or things already mentioned, under discussion, implied or otherwise presumed familiar to listeners, readers or speakers. It is the definite art ...
, a band started by
Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category tha ...
,
Peter Tosh Peter Tosh, Jamaican Order of Merit, OM (born Winston Hubert McIntosh; 19 October 1944 – 11 September 1987) was a Jamaican reggae musician. Along with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, he was one of the core members of the band Bob Marley and ...
and
Bunny Wailer Neville O'Riley Livingston (10 April 1947 – 2 March 2021), known professionally as Bunny Wailer, was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and percussionist A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck o ...
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. Other significant ska artists who made the leap to reggae include
Prince Buster Cecil Bustamente Campbell (24 May 1938 – 8 September 2016), known professionally as Prince Buster, was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and producer. The records he released in the 1960s influenced and shaped the course of Jamaican contemporary mu ...

Prince Buster
,
Desmond Dekker Desmond Dekker (16 July 1941 – 25 May 2006Thompson, Dave (2002) "Reggae & Caribbean Music", Backbeat Books, , Note: some sources list year of birth as 1942 or 1943) was a Jamaican ska, rocksteady and reggae singer-songwriter and musician. Tog ...
,
Ken Boothe Kenneth George Boothe OD (born 22 March 1948) is a Jamaican vocalist known for his distinctive vibrato and timbre. Boothe achieved an international reputation as one of Jamaica's finest vocalists through a series of crossover hits that appeale ...

Ken Boothe
, and
Millie Small Millicent Dolly May Small Order of Distinction, CD (6 October 1947 – 5 May 2020) was a Jamaican singer and songwriter, best known for her 1964 recording of "My Boy Lollipop", which reached number two in both the UK Singles Chart and the US ...
, best known for her 1964 blue-beat/ska
cover version In popular music Popular music is music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which gove ...
of "
My Boy Lollipop "My Boy Lollipop" (originally "My Girl Lollypop") is a song written in the mid-1950s by Robert Spencer of the doo-wop Doo-wop (also spelled doowop and doo wop) is a genre of rhythm and blues Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a ...
" which was a smash hit internationally. Notable Jamaican producers influential in the development of ska into rocksteady and reggae include:
Coxsone Dodd Clement Seymour "Sir Coxsone" Dodd (26 January 1932 – 4 May 2004) was a Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean ...
,
Lee "Scratch" Perry Lee "Scratch" Perry (born Rainford Hugh Perry; 20 March 1936 or 28 March 1936) is a Jamaican record producer and singer noted for his innovative studio techniques and production style. Perry was a pioneer in the 1970s development of dub music wi ...

Lee
,
Leslie Kong Leslie Kong (20 December 1933 – 9 August 1971) was an influential Chinese-Jamaican reggae producer. Career Leslie and his two older brothers Cecil and Lloyd ran a restaurant, ice cream parlour and record shop called Beverley's in Orange Stre ...
,
Duke Reid Arthur "Duke" Reid Order of Distinction, CD (21 July 1915 – 1 January 1975) was a Jamaican record producer, DJ and record label, label owner. He ran one of the most popular Reggae sound system, sound systems of the 1950s called Reid's So ...
,
Joe Gibbs Joe Jackson Gibbs (born November 25, 1940) is an American team owner and former professional coach. In football, he was for the of the (NFL) from to , and again from to . During his first stint with the Redskins, he led them to eight p ...
and
King Tubby Osbourne Ruddock (28 January 1941 – 6 February 1989), better known as King Tubby, was a Jamaican Audio engineering, sound engineer who greatly influenced the development of dub music, dub in the 1960s and 1970s. Tubby's innovative studio work, ...
.
Chris Blackwell Christopher Percy Gordon Blackwell (born 22 June 1937) is an English businessman and former record producer, and the founder of Island Records Island Records is a multinational record label owned by Universal Music Group Universal ...

Chris Blackwell
, who founded
Island Records Island Records is a multinational record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other s ...
in Jamaica in 1960, relocated to England in 1962, where he continued to promote Jamaican music. He formed a partnership with Lee Gopthal's
Trojan Records Trojan Records is a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Terr ...
in 1968, which released reggae in the UK until bought by Saga records in 1974.


International popularity

Reggae's influence bubbled to the top of the U.S. ''Billboard'' Hot 100 charts in late 1972. First
Three Dog Night Three Dog Night is an American rock band formed in 1967, with founding members consisting of vocalists Danny Hutton, Cory Wells, and Chuck Negron. This lineup was soon augmented by Jimmy Greenspoon (keyboards), Joe Schermie (bass), Michael Al ...
hit No. 1 in September with a cover of the Maytones' version of "
Black and White Black-and-white (B/W or B&W) images combine black and white in a continuous spectrum In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is ...
". Then
Johnny Nash John Lester “Johnny” Nash Jr. (August 19, 1940October 6, 2020) was an American singer-songwriter, best known in the United States for his 1972 hit "I Can See Clearly Now". Primarily a reggae and pop singer, he was one of the first non-Jama ...

Johnny Nash
was at No. 1 for four weeks in November with "
I Can See Clearly Now "I Can See Clearly Now" is a song written and originally recorded by Johnny Nash. It was a single from I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash album), the album of the same name and achieved success in the United States and the United Kingdom when it ...
".
Paul Simon Paul Frederic Simon (born October 13, 1941) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and actor whose career has spanned six decades. He is one of the most acclaimed songwriters in popular music. Simon was born in Newark, New Jersey, and gr ...

Paul Simon
's single "
Mother And Child Reunion "Mother and Child Reunion" is a song by the American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the lead Single (music), single from his second studio album, ''Paul Simon (album), Paul Simon'' (1972), released on Columbia Records. It was released as a si ...
" – a track which he recorded in Kingston, Jamaica with
Jimmy Cliff James Chambers OM (born 30 July 1944), known professionally as Jimmy Cliff, is a Jamaican ska, rocksteady, reggae and soul musician, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and actor. He is the only living musician to hold the Order of Merit, the hig ...

Jimmy Cliff
's backing group – was ranked by Billboard as the No. 57 song of 1972. In 1973, the film ''
The Harder They Come ''The Harder They Come'' is a 1972 Jamaica, Jamaican crime film directed by Perry Henzell and co-written by Trevor D. Rhone, and starring Jimmy Cliff. The film is most famous for its The Harder They Come (soundtrack), reggae soundtrack that is sa ...
'' starring
Jimmy Cliff James Chambers OM (born 30 July 1944), known professionally as Jimmy Cliff, is a Jamaican ska, rocksteady, reggae and soul musician, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and actor. He is the only living musician to hold the Order of Merit, the hig ...

Jimmy Cliff
was released and introduced Jamaican music to cinema audiences outside Jamaica. Though the film achieved cult status its limited appeal meant that it had a smaller impact than
Eric Clapton Eric Patrick Clapton, (born 1945) is an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, ...
'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. By the mid-1970s, authentic reggae dub plates and specials were getting some exposure in the UK on
John Peel John Robert Parker Ravenscroft (30 August 1939 – 25 October 2004), known professionally as John Peel, was an English disc jockey, radio presenter, record producer and journalist. He was the longest-serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJs, b ...
's radio show, who promoted the genre for the rest of his career. Around the same time, British filmmaker Jeremy Marre documented the Jamaican music scene in ''Roots Rock Reggae'', capturing the heyday of
Roots reggae Roots reggae is a subgenre of reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its Jamaican diaspora, diaspora. A 1968 single by Toots and the May ...
. While the quality of Reggae records produced in Jamaica took a turn for the worse following the oil crisis of the 1970s, reggae produced elsewhere began to flourish. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the UK
punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, ...
scene flourished, and reggae was a notable influence. The DJ
Don Letts Donovan "Don" Letts (born ) is a British film director A film director controls a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting ...
would play reggae and punk tracks at clubs such as
The Roxy Roxy, Roxey, and Roxie may refer to: People * Roxy (given name), including a list of people and characters with the name Places in the United States * Roxie, Mississippi, a town * Roxie, West Virginia, an unincorporated community Music * Roxy Mu ...
. Punk bands such as
The Clash The Clash were an English rock music, rock band formed in London in 1976 who were key players in the original wave of British punk rock. Billed as "The Only Band That Matters", they also contributed to the and new wave music, new wave movemen ...
,
The Ruts The Ruts (later known as Ruts DC) are an English reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Gr ...
,
The Members The Members are a British punk Punk or punks may refer to: Genres, subculture, and related aspects * Punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted in 1960s garage rock, punk bands rejected the ...
and
The Slits The Slits were a British punk and post-punk Post-punk (originally called new musick) is a broad genre of rock music Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the late 1940s a ...

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 Pulse Steel Pulse are a roots reggae Roots reggae is a subgenre of reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its Jamaican diaspora, diaspora ...
,
Aswad Aswad are a British reggae group, noted for adding strong Rhythm and blues, R&B and soul music, soul influences to the reggae sound. They have been performing since the mid-1970s, having released a total of 21 albums. Their UK Singles Chart, UK ...
and
UB40 UB40 are an English reggae Reggae () is a that originated in in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its . A 1968 single by , "" was the first popular song to use the word "reggae", effectively ...

UB40
, as well as artists such as
Smiley Culture David Victor Emmanuel (10 February 1963 – 15 March 2011), better known as Smiley Culture, was a British reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Span ...
and
Carroll Thompson Carroll Thompson is a British lovers rock singer, best known as the “Queen of Lovers Rock” Biography Thompson was born in England and is of Jamaican descent. Thompson undertook classical piano training on the piano and sang in school and ...
. The Jamaican ghetto themes in the lyrics were replaced with UK
inner city The term ''inner city'' has been used, especially in the United States, as a euphemism A euphemism () is an innocuous word or expression used in place of one that is deemed Profanity, offensive or suggests something unpleasant. Some euphemi ...

inner city
themes, and Jamaican
patois ''Patois'' (, pl. same or ) is speech or language that is considered nonstandard, although the term is not formally defined in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communi ...
became intermingled with
Cockney A Cockney is a certain type of London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or mor ...
slang. In South London around this time, a new subgenre of
lovers rock Lovers rock is a style of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''mus ...

lovers rock
, was being created. Unlike the Jamaican music of the same name which was mainly dominated by male artists such as
Gregory Isaacs Gregory Anthony Isaacs Order of Distinction, OD (15 July 1951 – 25 October 2010)Thompson, p. 127. was a Jamaica, Jamaican reggae musician. Milo Miles, writing in ''The New York Times'', described Isaacs as "the most exquisite vocalist in regg ...
, the South London genre was led by female singers like Thompson and
Janet Kay Janet Kay (born 17 January 1958) is an English actor and vocalist, best known for her 1979 lovers rock Lovers rock is a style of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some piece ...
. The UK Lovers Rock had a softer and more commercial sound.Other reggae artists who enjoyed international appeal in the early 1980s include
Third World The term "Third World" arose during the Cold War The Cold War was a period of tension between the and the and their respective allies, the and the , which began following . Historians do not fully agree on its starting and ending poi ...
,
Black Uhuru Black Uhuru is a Jamaican reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its Jamaican diaspora, diaspora. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals ...
and
Sugar Minott Lincoln Barrington "Sugar" Minott (25 May 1956 – 10 July 2010)Campbell, Howard (2010)Reggae singer Sugar Minott dies at 54, Associated Press, 11 July 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010Peru, Yasmine (2010)Godfather of Dancehall, Sugar Minott, dead at ...
. The Grammy Awards introduced the
Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album The Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album is an award presented at the Grammy Award The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the US Recording Academy to recognize "Outst ...
category in 1985. Women 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.


Reggae heritage

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 24 February 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. . Reggae Month 2019 in Jamaica was welcomed with multiple events ranging from corporate reggae functions to major celebrations in honour of Bob Marley's Birthday on 6 February to a tribute concert in honour of Dennis Brown on 24 February along with a sold-out concert by 2019 Reggae Grammy nominated artiste Protoje for his A Matter of Time Live held at Hope Gardens in Kingston on 23 February. In November 2018 "reggae music of Jamaica" was added to the
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
's
Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autono ...
the decision recognised reggae's "contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual."


Musical characteristics

Stylistically, reggae incorporates some of the musical elements of
rhythm and blues Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B or R'n'B, is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and ...
(R&B),
jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre ...
,
mento Mento is a style of Music of Jamaica, Jamaican folk music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. It is a fusion of African rhythmic elements and European elements, which reached peak popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. ...
,
calypso Calypso refers to: *Calypso (mythology), a nymph who, famously in Homer's ''Odyssey'', kept Odysseus with her on her island of Ogygia for seven years. *Calypso (nymphs), other nymphs called Calypso. Calypso may also refer to: Places *Calypso ...
, 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 of vocalists. Reggae is played in
time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existence and event (philosophy), events that occur in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component qua ...
because the symmetrical rhythmic pattern does not lend itself to other time signatures such as . 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 Skank may refer to: Music * Skank (band), a Brazilian rock/pop/reggae/ska band ** Skank (album), ''Skank'' (album), the band's self-titled debut album * Skank (guitar), a guitar technique used in reggae, ska, and rocksteady * Blast beat, Skank be ...
. This rhythmic pattern accents the second and fourth beats in each
bar Bar or BAR may refer to: Food *Bar (establishment) A bar is a long raised narrow table or bench designed for dispensing beer or other alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drinks. They were originally chest high, and a bar, often brass, ran the len ...
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 and, 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". The tempo of reggae is usually slower than both
ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although i ...

ska
and
rocksteady Rocksteady is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and tim ...

rocksteady
. It is this slower tempo, the guitar/piano offbeats, the emphasis on the third beat, and the use of
syncopated Syncopation is a musical term meaning a variety of rhythms played together to make a piece of music, making part or all of a tune or piece of music off-beat. More simply, syncopation is "a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhy ...
, 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 Chord may refer to: * Chord (music), an aggregate of musical pitches sounded simultaneously ** Guitar chord a chord played on a guitar, which has a particular tuning * Chord (geometry), a line segment joining two points on a curve * Chord (ast ...
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 In music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concep ...
(" Waiting in Vain" by
Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category tha ...
) and
minor seventh chord In music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music include common elements suc ...
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 Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B or R'n'B, is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and ...
and
soul music Soul music (often referred to simply as soul) is a popular music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the ...

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 #REDIRECT Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" is a song by American Soul music, soul group The Temptations, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. Released on the Gordy (Motown Records, ...
" by
The Temptations The Temptations are an American vocal group from Detroit (strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevat ...
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

A standard drum kit is generally used in reggae, but the
snare drum The snare drum or side drum is a percussion instrument that produces a sharp staccato sound when the head is struck with a drum stick, due to the use of a series of stiff wires held under tension against the lower skin. Snare drums are often us ...
is often tuned very high to give it a
timbales Timbales () or pailas are shallow single-headed drum The drum is a member of the percussion A percussion instrument is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In pri ...
-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. Reggae drumbeats fall into three main categories: '' One drop'', ''Rockers'', and ''Steppers''. With the ''One drop'', the emphasis is entirely on the backbeat (usually on the snare, or as a side-stick 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 Bob Marley and the Wailers (also known as Bob Marley & the Wailers) were a Jamaican reggae band led by Bob Marley. It developed from the earlier ska vocal group, The Wailers, created by Peter Tosh, Marley, and Bunny Wailer in 1963. By lat ...
song "One Drop". Barrett often used an unusual
cross-rhythm In music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated conc ...

cross-rhythm
on the
hi-hat A hi-hat (hihat, high-hat, etc.) is a combination of two cymbals and a pedal, all mounted on a metal stand. It is a part of the standard drum kit used by drummers in many styles of music including rock music, rock, popular music, pop, jazz, and ...

hi-hat
, which can be heard on many recordings by Bob Marley and the Wailers, such as "Running Away" on the '' Kaya'' album. 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 Sly and Robbie are a prolific Music of Jamaica, Jamaican rhythm section and production duo, associated primarily with the reggae and Dub music, dub genres. Drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare teamed up in the mid-1970s after estab ...
, 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 Lowell "Sly" Fillmore Dunbar (born 10 May 1952, Kingston, Jamaica) is a drummer, best known as one half of the prolific Jamaican rhythm section and reggae production duo Sly and Robbie. Biography Dunbar began playing at 15 in a band called ...
's drumming on "Right Time" by the Mighty Diamonds. The ''Rockers'' beat is not always straightforward, and various
syncopation Syncopation is a musical term meaning a variety of rhythms played together to make a piece of music, making part or all of a tune or piece of music off-beat. More simply, syncopation is "a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhy ...
s are often included. An example of this is the
Black Uhuru Black Uhuru is a Jamaican reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its Jamaican diaspora, diaspora. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals ...
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 Winston Rodney Order of Distinction, OD (born 1 March 1945), better known by the stage name Burning Spear, is a Jamaican roots reggae singer-songwriter, vocalist and musician. Burning Spear is a Rastafarian movement, Rastafarian and one of the ...
'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 two-tone
ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although i ...

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 Bongos (Spanish: ''bongó'') are an Afro-Cuban Afro-Cubans are Cubans Cubans ( es, Cubanos), are people born in Cuba or with Cuban citizenship. Cuba is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic, religious and national backgro ...
are often used to play free, improvised patterns, with heavy use of African-style
cross-rhythm In music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated conc ...
s. Cowbells,
claves Claves (; ) are a percussion instrument A percussion instrument is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be consider ...

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.


Bass

The
bass guitar The bass guitar, electric bass or simply bass, is the lowest-pitched member of the guitar family. It is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an Electric guitar, electric or an acoustic guitar, but with a long ...

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 Riddim is the Jamaican Patois A Jamaican Patois speaker discussing the usage of the language Jamaican Patois (), (known locally as Patois, Patwa, and Patwah and called Jamaican Creole by linguists) is an English-based creole language An ...
'' (rhythm), a (usually simple) piece of music that is used repeatedly by different artists to write and record songs with. 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 Dub is a genre of electronic music Electronic music is music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societ ...
– which gives an even bigger role to the drum and
bass line A bassline (also known as a bass line or bass part) is the term used in many styles of music, such as jazz, blues, funk, Dub music, dub and electronic music, electronic, traditional music, or classical music for the low-pitched Part (music), ins ...
, 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 A riff is a repeated chord progression In a musical composition File:Chord chart.svg, 250px, Jazz and rock genre musicians may memorize the melodies for a new song, which means that they only need to provide a chord chart to guide improvis ...

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

The
guitar The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six string instrument, strings. It is held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or Plucked string instrument, plucking the strings with the dominant hand, while sim ...

guitar
in reggae usually plays on the off beat of the rhythm. So if one is counting in time and counting "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and ...", one would play a downstroke on the "and" part of the beat. A musical figure known as
skank Skank may refer to: Music * Skank (band), a Brazilian rock/pop/reggae/ska band ** Skank (album), ''Skank'' (album), the band's self-titled debut album * Skank (guitar), a guitar technique used in reggae, ska, and rocksteady * Blast beat, Skank be ...
or the 'bang" has a very dampened, short and scratchy
chop Chop, CHOP, Chops, or CHOPS may refer to: Art *Embouchure, in music, a synonym for chops (and later, more broadly, musical skill or ability) *CHOPS, an Asian-American hip hop producer, rapper and member of rap group Mountain Brothers *Chops (Euro ...
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 "Stir It Up" is a song composed by Bob Marley in 1967 and first recorded by his group Bob Marley and the Wailers, The Wailers that year and issued as a single. The song was later covered by American singer Johnny Nash on his 1972 album ''I Can ...
" by The Wailers. Artist and producer
Derrick Harriott Derrick Clifton Harriott (born 6 February 1939) is a Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispani ...
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."


Keyboards

From the earliest days of Ska recordings, a piano was used to double the rhythm guitar's skank, playing the
chords Chord may refer to: * Chord (music) A chord, in music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such ...
in a ''
staccato Staccato (; Italian for "detached") is a form of musical articulation. In modern notation, it signifies a note of shortened duration, separated from the note that may follow by silence. It has been described by theorists and has appeared in music ...

staccato
'' style to add body, and playing occasional extra beats, runs and riffs. The piano part was widely taken over by
synthesizer A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronics, electronic circuitry. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an el ...

synthesizer
s during the 1980s, although synthesizers have been used in a peripheral role since the 1970s to play incidental melodies and
countermelodies In music, (German for ''primary voice'') or is the main melody, voice, chief part (music), part; i.e., the counterpoint, contrapuntal or melodic line of primary importance, in opposition to . (German for ''secondary voice'') or is the seconda ...
. Larger bands may include either an additional keyboardist, to cover or replace
horn Horn usually refers to: *Horn (acoustic), a conical or bell shaped aperture used to guide sound ** Horn (instrument), collective name for tube-shaped wind musical instruments *Horn (anatomy), a pointed, bony projection on the head of various anima ...
and
melody A melody (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

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. Typically, a
Hammond organ The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond and John M. Hanert and first manufactured in 1935. Multiple models have been produced, most of which use sliding #Drawbars, drawbars to vary sounds. Until 1975, Hammond organs ...
-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

Horn section A horn section is a group of musician A musician is a person who Composer, composes, Conducting, conducts, or Performing arts, performs music. According to the United States Employment Service, "musician" is a general Terminology, term used to ...
s are frequently used in reggae, often playing introductions and countermelodies. 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
synthesizer A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronics, electronic circuitry. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an el ...

synthesizer
s 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

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 Patois Jamaican Patois (), (known locally as Patois, Patwa, and Patwah and called Jamaican Creole by linguists) is an English-based creole language An English-based creole language (often shortened to English creole) is a creole language for which ...
,
Jamaican English Jamaican English, which includes Jamaican Standard English, is a variety of English native to Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles ...
, and
Iyaric 200px, Haile Selassie I Iyaric, also called Dread Talk, is a dialect of English consciously created by members of the Rastafari movement Rastafari, also known as the Rastafari movement or Rastafarianism, is a religion that developed in Jam ...
dialects. Vocal harmony parts are often used, either throughout the melody (as with vocal groups such as the
Mighty Diamonds Mighty Diamonds are a Jamaican harmony trio, recording roots reggae with a strong Rastafari movement, Rastafarian influence. The group was formed in 1969 and remained together as of 2012. They are best known for their 1976 debut album ''Right T ...
), or as a counterpoint to the main vocal line (as with the backing vocalists, the
I-Threes Bob Marley and the Wailers (also known as Bob Marley & the Wailers) were a Jamaican reggae band led by Bob Marley. It developed from the earlier ska vocal group, The Wailers, created by Peter Tosh, Marley, and Bunny Wailer in 1963. By late 196 ...
). More complex vocal arrangements can be found in the works of groups like
The Abyssinians The Abyssinians are a Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispaniola). Jamaica lies about south ...
and British reggae band
Steel Pulse Steel Pulse are a roots reggae Roots reggae is a subgenre of reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its Jamaican diaspora, diaspora ...
. An unusual aspect of reggae singing is that many singers use ''
tremolo In music, ''tremolo'' (), or ''tremolando'' (), is a trembling effect. There are two types of tremolo. The first is a rapid reiteration: * of a single note Note, notes, or NOTE may refer to: Music and entertainment * Musical note In music, ...

tremolo
'' (volume oscillation) rather than ''
vibrato Vibrato (, from of "", to vibrate) is a al effect consisting of a regular, pulsating change of . It is used to add expression to vocal and instrumental music. Vibrato is typically characterised in terms of two factors: the amount of pitch variat ...

vibrato
'' (pitch oscillation). Notable exponents of this technique include
Horace Andy Horace Andy (born Horace Hinds, 19 February 1951) is a Jamaican roots reggae Roots reggae is a subgenre of reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music o ...

Horace Andy
and vocal group
Israel Vibration Israel Vibration are a reggae harmony group, originating from Kingston, Jamaica. Lascelle "Wiss" Bulgin, Albert "Apple Gabriel" Craig, and Cecil "Skelly" Spence all suffered from childhood polio, and went on to be a Jamaican roots reggae group i ...
. The toasting vocal style is unique to reggae, originating when
DJs A disc jockey, more commonly abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays recorded music for an audience. Types of DJs include radio DJs (who host programs on music radio Music radio is a radio format in which music is the main broadcast cont ...
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 Rapping (also rhyming, spitting, emceeing or MCing) is a musical form of vocal delivery that incorporates "rhyme, rhythmic speech, and street vernacular", which is performed or chanted in a variety of ways, usually over a backing beat or mus ...
. It differs from rap mainly in that it is generally melodic, while rap is generally more a spoken form without melodic content.


Lyrical themes

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 Motown Records is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other seller ...
or Atlantic soul and
funk Funk is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although in pra ...
songs. Some reggae lyrics attempt to raise the political consciousness of the audience, such as by criticizing
materialism Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimate ...
, or by informing the listener about controversial subjects such as
apartheid Apartheid (South African English South African English (SAfrE, SAfrEng, SAE, en-ZA) is the set of English language dialects native to South Africans. History British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * B ...

apartheid
. Many reggae songs promote the use of
cannabis ''Cannabis'' () is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including ...
(also known as ''herb'', ''ganja'', or '' sinsemilla''), considered a sacrament in the
Rastafari movement Rastafari, also known as the Rastafari movement or Rastafarianism, is a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they ...

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 Jah or Yah ( he, , ''Yāh'') is a short form of (YHWH), the four letters that form the , : , which the ancient used. The conventional Christian English pronunciation of ''Jah'' is , even though the letter here transliterates the (Hebrew י ). ...
). Other common socio-political topics in reggae songs include
black nationalism Black nationalism is a type of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many ...
,
anti-racism Anti-racism refers to a form of action against racial hatred, bias, systemic racism Institutional racism, also known as systemic racism, is a form of racism that is embedded through laws within society or an organization. It can lead to such i ...
, anti-
colonialism Colonialism is a practice or policy of control by one people or power over other people or areas, often by establishing colony, colonies and generally with the aim of economic dominance. In the process of colonisation, colonisers may impose the ...

colonialism
,
anti-capitalism Anti-capitalism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group of persons, especially as held for reasons that are not purely epistemic, in which "practical elements are as prominent ...
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.


Criticism of dancehall and reggae lyrics

Some dancehall and ragga artists have been criticised for
homophobia Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality Homosexuality is Romance (love), romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or Human sexual activity, sexual behavior between members of the same sex or ...

homophobia
, including threats of violence.
Buju Banton Mark Anthony Myrie (born 15 July 1973),Larkin, Colin (1998) "The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae", Virgin Books, professionally known by his stage name Buju Banton, is a Jamaican reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a ...

Buju Banton
's song "Boom Bye-Bye" states that gays "haffi dead". Other notable dancehall artists who have been accused of homophobia include Elephant Man,
Bounty Killer Rodney Basil Price (born 12 June 1972), known as Bounty Killer, is a Jamaican reggae and dancehall Deejay (Jamaican), deejay. AllMusic describes him as "one of the most aggressive dancehall stars of the '90s, a street-tough rude boy with an u ...
and
Beenie Man Anthony Moses Davis (born 22 August 1973), better known by his stage name Beenie Man, is a Jamaican dancehall Dancehall is a genre of Jamaican popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to lar ...
. The controversy surrounding anti-gay lyrics has led to the cancellation of UK tours by Beenie Man and Sizzla. Toronto, Canada has also seen the cancellation of concerts due to artists such as Elephant Man and Sizzla refusing to conform to similar censorship pressures. After lobbying from the Stop Murder Music coalition, the dancehall music industry agreed in 2005 to stop releasing songs that promote hatred and violence against gay people. In June 2007, Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton signed up to the Reggae Compassionate Act, in a deal brokered with top dancehall promoters and Stop Murder Music activists. They renounced homophobia and agreed to "not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community". Five artists targeted by the anti-homophobia campaign did not sign up to the act, including Elephant Man, T.O.K., TOK, Bounty Killa and Vybz Kartel. Buju Banton and Beenie Man both gained positive press coverage around the world for publicly renouncing homophobia by signing the Reggae Compassion Act. However, both of these artists have since denied any involvement in anti-homophobia work and both deny having signed any such act.


Global significance

Reggae has spread to many countries around the world, often incorporating local instruments and fusing with other genres. In November 2018
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
added the "reggae music of Jamaica" to the
Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autono ...
.


Americas

Reggae en Español Reggae en Español (in English, Spanish reggae) is reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to ...
spread from mainland South American Caribbean from
Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continent A continent is any of several large l ...

Venezuela
and
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America and the capital city is Georgetown Guyana, Georgetown. Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the ...

Guyana
to the rest of South America. It does not have any specific characteristics other than being sung in Spanish, usually by artists of Latin American origin. Samba reggae originated in Brazil as a blend of samba with Jamaican reggae. Reggae also has a presence in Veracruz, Mexico. The most notable Jarocho reggae group being Los Aguas Aguas from Xalapa. Some of the most popular reggae groups across Latin America come from the Southern Cone, such as the Chilean band Gondwana (band), Gondwana, and the Argentinian band Los Cafres. The Puerto Rican band Cultura Profética is also widely recognized in the region. Hispanic reggae includes three elements: the incorporation of the Spanish language; the use of translations and versions based on known riddims and background music; and regional consciousness. It is a medium of rebellious contestation rising from the underground. Hispanic reggae is related to rap, sharing characteristics that can be found not only in the social conditions in which they developed in the region but also in the characteristics of social sectors and classes that welcome them. Brazilian samba-reggae utilized themes such as the civil rights movement and the Black Soul movement, and especially the Jamaican independence movement since the 1960s and its messages in reggae and Rastafari. Thus, the sudden popularity of reggae music and musicians in Bahia, Brazil, was not the result of the effects of the transnational music industry, but of the need to establish cultural and political links with black communities across the Americas that had faced and were facing similar sociopolitical situations. Musically, it was the bloco afro Olodum and its lead percussionist, Neguinho do Samba, that began to combine the basic samba beat of the blocos with merengue, salsa, and reggae rhythms and debuted their experimentations in the carnival of 1986. The new toques (drumming patterns) were labeled "samba-reggae" and consisted basically of a pattern in which the surdo bass drums (four of them at the minimum) divided themselves into four or five interlocking parts. In the state of Maranhão, in northeastern Brazil, reggae is a very popular rhythm. São Luís, Maranhão, São Luis, the state capital, is known as the Brazilian Jamaica. The city has more than 200 "radiolas", name given to sound teams formed by DJs and sound systems with dozens of powerful amplifiers boxes stacked. Reggae in Maranhão has its own characteristics, such as melody and the way of dancing, as well as having its own radio and television programs. In 2018, the Reggae Maranhão Museum, Reggae Museum of Maranhão was inaugurated, the second reggae museum in the world (after
Jamaica Jamaica (; ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or ...

Jamaica
), with the objective of preserving the reggae culture history in the state. In the United States, bands like Rebelution (band), Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, Stick Figure, and SOJA are considered progressive reggae bands sometimes referred to as Cali Reggae or Pacific Dub. The American reggae scene is heavily centred in Southern California, with large scenes also in New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, and Honolulu. For decades, Hawaiian reggae has had a big following on the Hawaiian islands and the West coast of the US. On the east coast upstate NY has seen a rise in original roots reggae bands such as Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and John Brown's Body (band), John Brown's Body who were inspired by Jamaican reggae bands that performed in the area back in the 80s and 90s. Matisyahu gained prominence by blending traditional Jewish themes with reggae. Compounding his use of the hazzan style, Matisyahu's lyrics are mostly English with more than occasional use of Hebrew language, Hebrew and Yiddish language, Yiddish. There is a large Caribbean presence in Toronto and Montreal, Canada, with English and French influences on the reggae genre. Canadian band Magic!'s 2013 single "Rude (song), Rude" was an international hit. In 2017,
Toots and the Maytals The Maytals, known from 1972 to 2020 as Toots and the Maytals, are a Jamaican musical group, one of the best known ska Ska (; ) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is ...

Toots and the Maytals
became the second reggae-based group to ever perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Coachella festival, after Chronixx in 2016.


Europe

The UK was a primary destination for Caribbean people looking to emigrate as early as the 1950s. Because of this,
Caribbean music in the United Kingdom People of African descent from the Caribbean have made significant contributions to British Black music for many generations. Trinidadian Calypso Large-scale Caribbean migration to England recommenced following the Second World War in 1948. T ...
, including reggae, has been popular since the late 1960s, and has evolved into several subgenres and fusions. Most notable of these is
lovers rock Lovers rock is a style of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''mus ...

lovers rock
, but this fusion of Jamaican music into English culture was seminal in the formation of other musical forms like drum and bass and dubstep. The UK became the base from which many Jamaican artists toured Europe and due to the large number of Jamaican musicians emigrating there, the UK is the root of the larger European scene that exists today. Many of the world's most famous reggae artists began their careers in UK. Singer and Grammy Award-winning reggae artist Maxi Priest began his career with seminal British sound system Saxon Studio International. Three reggae-tinged singles from the Police's 1978 debut album, ''Outlandos d'Amour'', laid down the template for the basic structure of a lot of rock/reggae songwriting: a reggae-infused verse containing upstrokes on guitar or keyboards and a more aggressive, on-the-beat punk/rock attack during the chorus. The end of the 1970s featured a ska revival in the UK. By the end of the '70s, a revival movement had begun in England, with such bands as the Specials, Madness, the (English) Beat, and the Selecter. The Specials' leader and keyboardist, Jerry Dammers, founded the 2 Tone record label, which released albums from the aforementioned racially integrated groups and was instrumental in creating a new social and cultural awareness. The 2 Tone movement referenced reggae's godfathers, popular styles (including the genre's faster and more dance-oriented precursors, ska and rocksteady), and previous modes of dress (such as black suits and porkpie hats) but updated the sound with a faster tempo, more guitar, and more attitude. Birmingham based reggae/
pop music Pop is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical tra ...
band
UB40 UB40 are an English reggae Reggae () is a that originated in in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its . A 1968 single by , "" was the first popular song to use the word "reggae", effectively ...

UB40
were main contributors to the British reggae scene throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The achieved international success with hits such as "Red Red Wine", "Kingston Town (song), Kingston Town" and "Can't Help Falling in Love#UB40 version, (I can't Help) Falling in Love with You." Other UK based artists that had international impact include
Aswad Aswad are a British reggae group, noted for adding strong Rhythm and blues, R&B and soul music, soul influences to the reggae sound. They have been performing since the mid-1970s, having released a total of 21 albums. Their UK Singles Chart, UK ...
, Misty in Roots,
Steel Pulse Steel Pulse are a roots reggae Roots reggae is a subgenre of reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its Jamaican diaspora, diaspora ...
,
Janet Kay Janet Kay (born 17 January 1958) is an English actor and vocalist, best known for her 1979 lovers rock Lovers rock is a style of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some piece ...
, Tippa Irie,
Smiley Culture David Victor Emmanuel (10 February 1963 – 15 March 2011), better known as Smiley Culture, was a British reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Span ...
and more recently Bitty McLean. There have been a number of European artists and bands drawing their inspiration directly from Jamaica and the Caribbean community in Europe, whose music and vocal styles are almost identical to contemporary Jamaican music. The best examples might be Alborosie (Italy) and Gentleman (musician), Gentleman (Germany). Both Gentleman and Alborosie have had a significant chart impact in Jamaica, unlike many European artists. They have both recorded and released music in Jamaica for Jamaican labels and producers and are popular artists, likely to appear on many
riddim Riddim is the Jamaican Patois A Jamaican Patois speaker discussing the usage of the language Jamaican Patois (), (known locally as Patois, Patwa, and Patwah and called Jamaican Creole by linguists) is an English-based creole language An ...
s. Alborosie has lived in Jamaica since the late 1990s and has recorded at Bob Marley's famous Tuff Gong Studios. Since the early 1990s, several Italian reggae bands have emerged, including Africa Unite, Gaudi (musician), Gaudi, Reggae National Tickets, Sud Sound System, Pitura Freska and B.R. Stylers. Another Italian famous reggae singer was Rino Gaetano. Reggae appeared on the Popular music in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Yugoslav popular music scene in the late 1970s, through sporadic songs by popular
rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemical composition and the way in w ...
acts. Reggae saw an expansion with the emergence of New wave music in Yugoslavia, Yugoslav new wave scene. The bands like Haustor, Šarlo Akrobata, Aerodrom (band), Aerodrom, Laboratorija Zvuka, Piloti (band), Piloti, Du Du A and others recorded reggae and reggae-influence songs. In the mid-1980s appeared Del Arno Band, often considered the first real reggae band in Yugoslavia. Throughout the following decades they remained one of the most popular and influential reggae bands in the region. In the 1990s and early 2000s, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, appeared a new generation of reggae bands, like Serbian band Eyesburn, which gained popularity with their combination of reggae with hardcore punk and crossover thrash, and Croatian band Radikal Dub Kolektiv, alongside bands which incorporated reggae into their sound, like Darkwood Dub, Kanda, Kodža i Nebojša and Lira Vega in Serbia and Dubioza Kolektiv in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Late 2000s and 2010s brought a new generation of reggae acts in the region. The first homegrown Polish reggae bands started in the 1980s with groups like Izrael (band), Izrael. Singer and songwriter Alexander Barykin was considered as the father of Russian reggae. In Sweden, Uppsala Reggae Festival attracts attendees from across Northern Europe, and features Swedish reggae bands such as Rootvälta and Svenska Akademien (band), Svenska Akademien as well as many popular Jamaican artists. Summerjam, Europe's biggest reggae festival, takes place in Cologne, Germany and sees crowds of 25,000 or more. Rototom Sunsplash, a week-long festival which used to take place in Osoppo, Italy, until 2009, is now held in Benicassim, Spain and gathers up to 150,000 visitors every year. In Iceland reggae band Hjálmar is well established having released six CDs in Iceland. They were the first reggae band in Iceland, but few Icelandic artists had written songs in the reggae style before their showing up at the Icelandic music scene. The Icelandic reggae scene is expanding and growing at a fast rate. RVK Soundsystem is the first Icelandic
sound systemSound system may refer to: Technology * Sound reinforcement system, a system for amplifying audio for an audience * High fidelity, a sound system intended for accurate reproduction of music in the home * Public address system, an institutional speec ...
, counting 5 DJ's. They hold reggae nights in Reykjavík every month at clubs Hemmi og Valdi and more recently in Faktorý as the crowd has grown so much. In Germany, the three successful Reggae JSnrfti mer Jam open-air festivals were crucial parts of the renaissance of Caribbean music in Germany but at that year (1990) war broke out between the two main German promoters who had cooperated so well during the previous seasons. With a lot of infighting and personal quarrels, each of them pursued his own preparations for a big summer festival. The result was that two open-air events look place on the same day. The Reggae Sammer Jam '90 was staged as usual, but this year for only one day. The event took place at the Lorelei Rock amphitheater with artists like Mad Professor's Ariwa Posse with Macka B and Kofi, Mutabaruka, the Mighty Diamonds, the Twinkle Brothers, Manu Dibango and Fela Kuti. The other, ex-partner of the onceunited promoters succeeded in bringing the original Sunsplash package to Germany for the first time. Close to the Main River in the little village of Gemaunden deep down in rural south-central Germany, they staged a two-day festival that drew the bigger crowd. About 10,000 people came from all over the country as well as from neighboring states like trance and, for the first time, East Germany to see the lineup of top reggae artists.


Africa

Reggae in Africa was much boosted by the visit of Bob Marley to Zimbabwe on Independence Day 18 April 1980. Nigerian reggae had developed in the 1970s with artists such as Majek Fashek proving popular. In South Africa, reggae music has played a unifying role amongst cultural groups in Cape Town. During the years of Apartheid, the music bonded people from all demographic groups. Lucky Dube recorded 25 albums, fusing reggae with Mbaqanga. The Marcus Garvey Rasta camp in Phillipi is regarded by many to be the reggae and Rastafari movement, Rastafari center of Cape Town. Reggae bands play regularly at community centres such as the Zolani center in Nyanga, Cape Town, Nyanga. In Uganda musician Papa Cidy is very popular. Arthur Lutta is also a Ugandan gospel reggae drummer known for his reggae style drumming. In Ethiopia, Dub Colossus and Invisible System emerged in 2008 sharing core members, and have received wide acclaim. In Mali, Askia Modibo fuses reggae with Malian music. In Malawi, Black Missionaries produced nine albums. In Ivory Coast a country where reggae music is extremely popular, Tiken Jah Fakoly fuses reggae with traditional music. Alpha Blondy from Ivory Coast sings reggae with religious lyrics. In Sudan, beats, drums and bass guitar from reggae music has been adopted into their music as reggae is a very popular among the generations from young to old, some spiritual (religious) groups grow their dreadlocks and have some reggae beats in their chants.


Asia and the Pacific

In the Philippines, several bands and sound systems play reggae and dancehall music. Their music is called Pinoy reggae. Japanese reggae emerged in the early 1980s. Reggae is becoming more prevalent in Thailand as well. Reggae music is quite popular in Sri Lanka. Aside from the reggae music and Rastafari influences seen ever more on Thailand's islands and beaches, a true reggae sub-culture is taking root in Thailand's cities and towns. Many Thai artists, such as Job 2 Do, keep the tradition of reggae music and ideals alive in Thailand. By the end of the 1980s, the local music scene in Hawaii was dominated by Jawaiian music, a local form of reggae. Famous Indian singer Kailash Kher and music producer Clinton Cerejo created ''Kalapi'', a rare fusion piece of Reggae and Indian music for Coke Studio India. Other than this high-profile piece, Reggae is confined to a small, emerging scene in India. Thaikkudam Bridge, a neo-Indian band based in Kerala, India is known for inducing Reggae into Indian regional blues.


Australia and New Zealand

Reggae in Australia originated in the 1980s. Australian reggae groups include Sticky Fingers (band), Sticky Fingers, Blue King Brown, Astronomy Class and The Red Eyes. Others such as The Fraud Millionaires combine reggae with rock, while many more artists include some reggae songs in their repertoires, but don't identify as reggae bands. Desert Reggae is a developing contemporary style possibly originating in Central Australia and featuring lyrics often sung in Australian Aboriginal languages. ''Yirrmala'' by Yothu Yindi (1996) is an example of an Aboriginal reggae song. New Zealand reggae was heavily inspired by
Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae Reggae () is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category tha ...
's Babylon by Bus Tour, 1979 tour of the country, and early reggae groups such as Herbs (band), Herbs. The genre has seen many bands like Fat Freddy's Drop, Salmonella Dub, The Black Seeds and Katchafire emerging in more recent times, often involving fusion with electronica. In 2017 The first-ever chart dedicated to reggae and dancehall music established in Australia by radio presenter DJ Ragz, music producer DJ Wade and Dancehall Reggae Australia.


Cod reggae

The term cod reggae is popularly used to describe reggae done by non-Caribbean (often white) people, often in a disparaging manner because of perceived Authenticity in art, inauthenticity. Boy George has been described as one of the "greats" in cod reggae.


See also

* List of dub artists * List of reggae compilation albums * List of reggae festivals, Reggae festivals * Reggae genres * Cannabis (drug), Cannabis *
Rastafari Rastafari, also known as the Rastafari movement or Rastafarianism, is a that developed in during the 1930s. It is classified as both a and a by . There is no central authority in control of the movement and much diversity exists among prac ...

Rastafari
* Skinhead * Skanking


References


Bibliography

* Jérémie Kroubo Dagnini (2008). ''Les origines du reggae: retour aux sources. Mento, ska, rocksteady, early reggae'', L'Harmattan, coll. Univers musical. * Jérémie Kroubo Dagnini (2011). ''Vibrations jamaïcaines. L'Histoire des musiques populaires jamaïcaines au XXe siècle'', Camion Blanc. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Bradley, Lloyd (1996). ''Reggae on CD: The Essential Collection''. London: Kyle-Cathie. 368 p. . The ISBN is from the back cover; the ISBN on the verso of the t.p. is incomplete. {{Authority control Reggae, Jamaican styles of music Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity 1960s in music