Reggae is the most internationally famous style of Caribbean music. Reggae, which is one of the world's most influential music, was originated in Jamaica around the mid 1960's. At first reggae was first performed by and for poor Jamaican's, but quickly became popular throughout the Caribbean and around the world. Most reggae songs deal with social concerns and religious beliefs of the Afro-Caribbean awareness of the Rastafarian religion. The term reggae is also applied today to reggae's precursor styles, including men to, ska, and rock steady. (World Book encyclopedia, 2000) The origins of reggae can be traced to the 1940 s and the emergence of men to, a hybrid that combines African folk-music traditions with calypso, the carnival music of Trinidad.
Me nto features rhythmic, syncopated guitar strumming and lively, topical lyrics. By the 1950 s the music began to change. Jamaican musicians began to experiment with drum and bass patterns, inspired by the rhythm-and-blues music being broadcast by radio stations in the United States. By the 1960 s men to had evolved into an upbeat style of dance music known as ska.
Ska is one of the most the most underrated forms of historical music to date. Many people have not even heard of the word before and if so don't know anything to a large extent. Ska is an upbeat style of Jamaican pop music. Ska developed in Jamaica from rhythm-and-blues music and men to, it combined men to and calypso with the rhythm and blues then mixed in the "boogie woo gie" swing vibe with some jazz.
So when it was first started in the 1950's people of all countries could appreciate and enjoy listening to it as it encompassed their music somewhat with a twist to it. Some notable artists in this field were Don Drummond and the Eric Deans Orchestra. They drew from American artists like Duke Ellington and Glen Miller. This was popular in the time of the swing dance, so when people would go out and ska music would go on they would find their partner and do the "ska" which was also a very popular dance.
By the mid 1960"s ska had slowly began to change into a more mellow style called rock steady. Rock steady was different from Ska in that the sparse rhythms of rock steady allowed the vocalist to play a greater role and encouraged the formation of a number of Jamaican pop vocal groups. Soon rock steady was combined with traditional men to rhythms to produce reggae music. (Microsoft Encarta 2004) Reggae inverted traditional rock music by allowing the guitar to take much of the rhythmic emphasis, often playing chords on the offbeat while the bass played melodic patterns.
Reggae started making its name in the mid 1960's after Jamaica had just received their independence from Britain on August 6 th 1962. Reggae music is closely affiliated with the Rastafarian religion because it does have a relationship with it and also because it's main artists Jimmy Cliff and Robert Nesta Marley, known to the entire world as Bob Marley were Rastafarian. Jimmy Cliff became the first reggae performer to achieve international popularity, largely because of his lead role in the motion picture The Harder They Come (1973), for which he also performed the title song, while Bob Marley became the most popular artist. (Microsoft Encarta 2004) Bob Marley, became the most influential as well as the most popular reggae artist to date.
Marley combined soulful melodies with strident lyrics that were informed by the Biblical mysticism and Afro-Caribbean awareness of the Rastafarian religion. During the 1970 s, Marley and many other Jamaican musicians sang about black unification and liberation, while advocating the smoking of ganja (marijuana) as a religious sacrament. Marley gained mainstream recognition with his 1975 album Natty Dread. By the time of his death from cancer in 1981, Marley and his band the Wailers had won worldwide respect for their highly melodic, spiritually moving pop songs. Marley was such a strong influence in his native country of Jamaica, that he was able to bring two bitter political leaders, Michael Manley and Edward Sega on stage in unification in 1978. (Caribbean currents, 1995) "Also during the 1970 s, the sound of reggae was being reinvented by studio producers such as Lee Perry and King Tubby who used echo and delay effects to create a sound known as dub.
With vocals removed from tracks of dance songs, U Roy, I Roy, and other DJs began talking over the music, a technique that was known as toasting. Dub and toasting were later transplanted to New York City, where they formed the basis for hip-hop and rap music in the 1980 s." (Microsoft Encarta 2004) Reggae has undergone numerous transformations over the past twenty years. Reggae musicians have added various influences and as other popular musicians have embraced the style. Reggae has move form soulful melodies with strident lyrics of Bob Marley to a more party, have a good style. In the 1980 s singer Gregory Isaacs achieved great popularity by bringing a crooning style to reggae. An electronic-based variation of reggae, known as ragga muffin or ragga, was prompted by the song "Under Me S leng Teng" (1985), which was produced by King Jammy.
Reggae as also moved to a more up-tempo style of music known as dance hall. Dancehall is still referred to as reggae but it is a different type of music. Dancehall is energetic, and party type of music. It is similar to hip-hop in a way that they both talk about the same things, girls, party and just having a good time.
Dancehall has taken Jamaican music one-step further than where Bob Marley and other musicians took it. The raw and explicit style of today's reggae music has gained more international popularity, which is been resulted in Grammy Awards. The raw DJ style of performer Shabby Ranks resulted in consecutive Grammy Awards for him in 1991 and 1992. Dancehall has continued to grow over the years and is now not only the predominant form of music in Jamaica and the Caribbean but also is a major style of music in North American culture. In conclusion, all forms of Jamaican music are known as reggae, weather its ska, men to, or dance hall it's all called reggae because it's all originated in Jamaica. Jamaican music has grown tremendously over the years and will continue to grow as time goes on.
Although the soulful melodies of Bob Marley and other original reggae artist is slowly fading, the up tempo style of today's dance hall artists; such as Sean Paul, Beenie Man and Shaggy is generating more popularity over the world has taken the music to a new level. As a native of Jamaica I am happy to see what they have done not only for the music but what they have done for the country.