Where Did Reggae Music Come From?

A monument dedicated to Bob Marley, one of the most well-known Reggae artists of all time, in Kingston, Jamaica.
A monument dedicated to Bob Marley, one of the most well-known Reggae artists of all time, in Kingston, Jamaica.

5. Overview and Musical Characteristics -

Reggae music is a genre of music that originated from Jamaica in the late 1960s. It has been influenced by a combination of traditional Jamaican folk music with American jazz and rhythm and blues music, and incorporates musical elements from each. Reggae music can easily be recognized because of its unique rhythms majorly chords played the guitar and piano. The majorly used instruments are the bass guitar which played to emphasize the lower frequencies are emphasized hence removing the upper frequencies. Therefore, a thick and heavy sound is produced. The timing of the beats in reggae music gives it a hypnotic feel because of its relaxed nature. Drum styles have been introduced and incorporated in reggae which gives it a unique and exciting feel. Reggae musicians have worked on their vocals to preserve the natural tone of their voice and can also be identified with their colors, green, black, gold, and sometimes red.

4. Origins -

In the late 1960s, reggae developed from ska and rock-steady music. From then on, multiple reggae musicians began competing to record and sell the first generation of reggae albums. The first records were highly distinct from other genres because they were highly flexible, and even erratic, unlike the American rhythm and blues (R&B) which was seen as more smooth and soulful. The first reggae hits were recorded in 1968, and the genre became popular throughout America, and its influences have been seen in other music genres such as pop and rock music ever since.

3. Spread and Development -

After the introduction of reggae music in Jamaica in the 1960s, there has been constant spread and development of it both in its home country and across the world. After the release of the first hit reggae song in 1968, there was a clear distinction and transition from the rock-steady music which was developed in 1966. On the realization that the new Jamaican sound was simple and had been loved by many, America recorded its first hit reggae song had managed to be in the top 100 most loved songs in the early 1970s. Reggae also influenced other music like the punk rock in the United Kingdom in the 1980s due to the relocation of the founders of Island Records to England.

2. Notable Reggae Musicians, Past and Present -

Several notable musicians have taken up reggae as their career and passion, and through their songs much can be learned about reggae music and Jamaican culture at large. The renowned reggae musicians Larry Marshall and The Beltones were among the first to record reggae hit songs. Other notable musicians have included Johnny Nash, Bob Marley, Lucky Dube, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, and Millie Small. These among others were some the early pioneers and most legendary reggae musicians.

1. Artistic and Cultural Significance -

Reggae music was used to gossip or give comments on the politics and the political influences of Jamaica, doing so in a unique, conversational manner by employing a call and response concept. Over the years, it has been used to define the Jamaicans thus their way of life can be understood by the rest of the world through music. It has enabled Jamaica to preserve its traditions and cultural values and to share them with the rest of the world, and hence it is an important part of many Jamaicans' lives.


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