Types of Reggae Music and Reggae Jargon

Published: 05th June 2008
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Jamaican Reggae music is a dynamic music form that is continually evolving and changing and it continues to do so to this day. Reggae music is a musical form of expression which artists have used to discuss topics ranging from cultural to social. Reggae musics' origins and beginnings can be traced back to the 1950's. This article will look at Reggae music genres from the earliest to the present. Also, we will define some Reggae jargon as it pertains to the genres.

Ska
Ska is a style of Reggae music created in Jamaica during the 1950's to 1960's. The music is heavily driven by drums and bass guitar over which a singer sings. Many music historians agree that Ska was the first genre to which Reggae music can be traced.

Rock steady
Rock Steady is another early genre of Reggae music. Rock Steady is basically Ska however the drum and bass are played at a different pace and slower than those found in Ska music. In this music form, Jamaican singers sing to Rock Steady instrumentals.

Reggae
Following the era of Ska and Rock Steady, the word 'Reggae' was coined. No one is sure of the exact origins of the word 'Reggae.' Reggae music evolved from Ska and Rock Steady. Reggae has a distinct sound. Reggae music is driven by drums, guitar, bass and horns. Famous Jamaican singers initially began recording songs to this style of music beginning in the late 1960's through the 1970's.

Dub
Dub is Reggae instrumental music with no singing. Dub is not merely instrumental tracks of popular Reggae songs. Dub artists produce instrumentals with no intention of having someone sing to them. Usually Dub music has a lot of variation within it (the pattern varies) so it's very difficult to sing to or rhyme to Dub. Dub artists are often very experimental in their approach to this style of music but its baselines and drum patters can most definitely be identified as Reggae.

Toasting
Toasting is basically talking or chatting over an instrumental track and rhyming while doing so. The person doing the Toasting is referred to as a Toaster. During the 1960's in Jamaica and throughout the 1970's a Toaster would introduce popular Reggae songs with a short and witty introduction that rhymed. Over time Reggae Toasters started saying more and more and were eventually invited into music studios to record entire songs. Toasting later evolved into Deejaying which will be discussed in more detail below.

Dancehall Reggae
Dancehall Reggae evolved from Reggae music during the 1980's. Dancehall Reggae is heavily influenced by drums and drum patterns. The evolution of Reggae into Dancehall Reggae coincided with the popularity of drum machines. Many of sounds of Dancehall Reggae are electronic drum patterns. The pace of the music in Dancehall Reggae is up beat and up tempo. Unlike the previous styles of Reggae music which are usually sung, Dancehall Reggae artist chat or speak in rhymes which is referred to as 'chatting on a mic.' Nowadays, those who 'chat on the mic' are known as DJ's. Furthermore, the act of 'chatting on the mic' is called Deejaying. Dancehall DJ's evolved from the previously mentioned Toasters who would Toast songs in Jamaica. Dancehall Reggae DJ's speak Jamaican patois to deliver the message in their songs. To learn Jamaican patois language visit http://www.speakingjamaican.com for lessons. Dancehall Reggae is most popular among the youth and youth culture in Jamaica.

Within the main Reggae genres there many subcategories and further classifications of the music. The subclassifications may depend on the message of the song, or the style of music and you may find that a subcategory falls into one or several genres. Next, we'll look at a few of the subcategories of Reggae music.

Rockers
Rockers is Reggae music that is a ballad or a love song. It is slow paced music which is sung.

Roots
Roots is Reggae music with a religious message.

Culture
Culture is Reggae music that speaks about history, culture or society. Culture is Reggae music that has a positive social message.

In conclusion, Reggae music is a dynamic and continually evolving art form. It is driven by island life, politics and youth culture. Reggae music ranges from mellow love longs sung in Standard English to the up tempo Dancehall Reggae songs sung in Jamaican Patois.

I write about culture, language and visiting countries.
Learn the Jamaican language http://www.speakingjamaican.com


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