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Reggae Music History

Reggae music as a distinctive music genre emerged in the 1960s in Jamaica. This dance music had its roots in New Orleans rhythm'n'blues.

Reggae in dictionary terms means "rags, ragged clothing" or "a quarrel, a row". It is sometimes used to refer to most types of Jamaican music. But reggae originally means music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady.

It is also influenced by the jazz, rhythm and the blues. The term came into popular vocabulary with the 1968 Do The Reggay by Toots and The Maytals.

Skank guitar rhythm is often considered as the 'reggae beat'. Reggae is characterized by a heavy backbeated rhythm, meaning the emphasis of the beat is on, for example, beats 2 and 4, when in 4/4 time.

Reggae music is simple either played in 4/4 time or swing time. Many reggae musicians in the world practiced the religion of Rastafarianism. Hence reggae music and lyrics reflect the traditions of this religion.

Bass, Drums, Guitar, Organ are the typical reggae musical instruments. Drum mostly features the reggae. Cross stick technique on the snare drum is used by the drummers.

Reggae drum beats are categorised into three groups; One drop, Rockers and Steppers. The bass guitar is very important. The guitar plays the chords on beats two and four. Keyboards and horns are also used.

Neil Diamond's Red Red Wine (1967) was the first reggae hit in the US.

This music is based on a rhythmic style characterized by accents on the off-beat, known as the skank, was popularised by Bob Marley. He was the co-leader of the Wailers, the band that promoted the image of the urban guerrilla with Rude Boy (1966). He made reggae internationally popular.

Other names in reggae music are Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker and Jackie Mittoo. Jamaican producers helped the development of reggae and rocksteady include Coxsone Dodd, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Leslie Kong, Duke Reid, Joe Gibbs and King Tubby. Chris Blackwell.

Stir It Up (1972), I Shot The Sheriff (1973) and No Woman No Cry (1974) - all these helped to promote reggae music. Among the reggae vocal groups, the Abyssinians' Satta Massa Gana of 1971 is worth mentioning. The Harder They Come was a 1972 film invited considerable attention to reggae in the United States.

By the 1970s, reggae began getting radio play in the UK especially with John Peel's radio show.

Article about: History of Reggae music

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