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Do you know your reggae music history?

Here are four things you should know about characteristics of reggae music history.

1. Origin of reggae music reggae music history

Let’s try and set the record straight about reggae music’s history. I have heard people say that reggae music came from Africa; in fact they claimed that all music came from  Africa. And I have heard others say that it is a derivative of American Rhythm and Blues.

All of the above is true to an extent. Reggae musicians have used parts of the different genres to develop some of the attributes of the music we have come to love.

It is to be noted that no musical form can claim 100% purity since music influences music. Make no mistake about it; reggae music was developed in Jamaica. If I did not point this out I would not do justice to reggae music’s history.  

When the Africans came to Jamaica they came with their own religions and musical forms. They came from different places in Africa and later from different plantations in the Americas.

Don’t forget also that the Europeans who invaded Jamaica also brought their own musical forms with them which, they forced upon the people; as a direct result the Jamaicans developed a unique Jamaican music styles called Pukkumina which later translated in to Mento

Mento then gave way to the new up tempo Ska which later gave way to Rocksteady – by slowing down the beat and accentuating the second and forth beat of a musical bar. The Rocksteady musicians continued to refine the playing technique which later resulted in reggae as we now know it.  

While many writers of the history of reggae omitted the role of Jamaica’s gospel music on the development of reggae, I can not do that here.

It is a known fact in Jamaica that a significant portion of the artists and musicians that went on to become famous in reggae had their first break in the church.  In fact the churches in Jamaica, even to this day, have some of the best musicians and singers.

Young musicians and singers in reggae’s early days did not have the luxury of formal training. Hence the church filled that gap.

2. When was reggae created?

It would be extremely difficult to give the exact date or time that gave birth to reggae music but, it is widely acknowledged by students of reggae music’s history that, it was developed in the late 60s in Jamaica. Depending on who you speak to, you will indeed get varying opinion on this.  

One thing to bear in mind is that the term reggae is used by many to classify all of Jamaica’s musical forms from the 60s to the present.  Now some people are clear as to what reggae is, and it is the kind of music song by Marley, Tosh, et al.  

But, it is not as simple as that, since Ska, Rocksteady, Deejaying (Dancehall) and Roots Reggae are all inextricably linked to make up what some believe to be reggae.  Ska probably started some time in late 50s and became popular in the mid 60s.

Rocksteady came about during the late 60s after the musicians slowed down the tempo of ska. Rocksteady is also considered to be reggae or more precisely early reggae. 

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