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The evolution of Jamaican music

Posted by mandyf on November 28, 2008

If you are like me the first thing you think of when considering Jamaican music is Bob Marley, but Jamaican music goes well beyond this one legend of the art and industry. Jamaica has enjoyed a strong history in music stretching back to it’s roots which was primarily based on drum beats and chants with a touch of European influence. Over time it evolved into more of a folk style of lyrics called mento which is like the grandparent of reggae and is often confused with calypso. Today Jamaican music encompasses not only these roots but the influence of many genres of music, and serves as an influence in it’s own right on many international artists. If you have ever wondered what it is that comprises the Jamiacan music scene and who the artists are that have provided these wonderful sounds, read on and take a look at this wonderful history of music.

While folk music is still present in Jamaica and dub is rapidly growing, there are three predominant styles thriving today which are reggae, ska, and rock steady. Ska is considered the oldest of these genres developing around the 1950’s It took ska awhile to truly settle on it’s sound but once it did it influenced all Jamaican music to follow. Ska mixes mento (An early form of Jamaican folk music) with a New Orleans style rhythm and blues back-beat which is evident when noticing most early ska songs were covers of contemporary American songs. The ska sound is basically a two/four drum beat over a quarter note bass with offbeat guitar. Ska was and still is generally regarded the music of the youth and the poor. The term ska is believed to have come from Cluet “Clue J” Johnson who bellowed “Skavoovie” when taking the stage as a form of greeting. Skavoovie was a made up word, however the root ska remained and became the name of the sound. There is some argument as to what the first ska song was, but it is generally agreed it was “Easy Snapping” by Theophilius Beckford in 1959. Sir Lord Comics 1967 “The great wugga wugga” is considered to be not only the greatest ska tune ever by many, but the last great ska tune.

By the mid 1960’s ska began evolving into a more mature refined sound which became known as rock steady. Technically speaking the tempo remained the same as ska but the guitar now played on beats two and four with the bass guitar appearing on beats one and three. The bass becomes more predominate than the drums which became a compliment to the arrangement. Horns were introduced and rock steady became …read the rest here at: http://www.helium.com/items/1052014-the-evolution-of-jamaican-music

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