Reggae music started in the 1960s in Jamaica. However, the term reggae is often used as a general term for Jamaican dance music. The word reggae first came to be known globally after the song ‘Do the Reggay’ by Toots and the Maytals. Reggae is largely influenced by American jazz and traditional mento. It has gone from being a Jamaican genre to an internationally recognized genre. It is associated with Rastafari and in some countries, people knew about Rastafari through reggae music. Jamaicans celebrate reggae month every year since 2008.
Reggae music evolved from rocksteady and ska music genres. Larry Marshall’s ‘Nanny Goat’ can be said to be the first reggae record to be released. It was followed by ‘No more heartaches’ from The Beltones. From then, other pioneers including Ken Boothe, Millie Small, Prince Buster and Chris Blackwell continued to set the pace for reggae music. In late 1972, reggae was already wide spread in the US. Several reggae songs appeared on the Billboard Hot 100. The film ‘Harder They Come’ was released in 1973. It was very popular and it was the start of Jamaican music being featured in cinemas out of Jamaica. Notable figures in reggae music include; Bob Marley, Black Uhuru, Trish Farrell, Sharon Gordon, Sugar Minott and Olivia Grange.
The Effects Of Reggae Music
Reggae music has contributed to the spread of Rastafari across the world. Almost all cultures in the world have been influenced in one way or another by the spiritual message incorporated in most reggae songs. Rastafari symbols such as military outfits, the Ethiopian colors and dreadlocks are now common not just in Jamaica but all over the world. It has influenced societies all across the world and led to the emergence of counter-cultural movements especially in Africa, Europe and America. In the UK, it contributed to the emergence of the skinhead movement and facilitated the punk movement. Reggae music inspired the first rappers in USA therefore setting the foundation for hip hop music. It shaped Western punk rock. Through reggae, Jamaican music became exposed to the rest of the world. Lucky Dube, Alpha Blondy and Tiken Jah Fakoly used reggae music to speak against social injustices such as apartheid in South Africa.
Characteristics Of Reggae Music
Reggae uses a standard drum kit and a bass guitar as the dominant. Pianos are also incorporated to increase the skank of the rhythm guitar. Sometimes horns are used to introduce to create counter-melodies. Synthesizers can be used in the place of real horns. Reggae music puts more emphasis on instruments than vocals. It is usually focused on politics, social gossip and news often including the idea of ‘Call and response’. It is used to bring to light societal problems and to discuss popular themes. A lot of reggae songs romanticize the use of cannabis in accordance to Rastafari beliefs.
Reggae infuses a bit of the elements from R&B, African, Latin American music and other music genres. The skank guitar rhythm is the usual reggae beat. Reggae music often involves a lot of offbeat rhythms and a tempo that is a little slower than ska but faster than the successor genre, rocksteady.