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History Of Reggae Music

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Music
Wordcount: 2701 words Published: 7th Jul 2017

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Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rock steady

Reggae is based on a rhythmic style characterized by accents on the off beat, known as the skank. Reggae is normally slower than ska but faster than rock steady. Reggae usually accents the second and fourth beat in each bar, with the rhythm guitar also either emphasizing the third beat or holding the chord on the second beat until the fourth is played. It is mainly this “third beat”, its speed and the use of complex bass lines that differentiated reggae from rock steady, although later styles incorporated these innovations separately.

The unprecedented explosion of creativity in Jamaica after that time is yet unexplained.

Of course the whole population still sings Gospel on Sunday, and in this poor country, all the music that one can hear on the dance floors and the sound systems stays the main form of culture. Singers, DJs and producers are leaders and teachers.

Like in Brazil and Africa (of which reggae takes most of its inspiration), the whole country is vibrating with music 24hours.

Nevertheless, this passion for sound and beat don’t explain it all.

More is to come. The frantic side of the first reggae tunes disappears and in the beginning of the 70s, the One Drop style (that is commonly called Roots Reggae) starts to settle.

This irresistible style with its fundamental simplicity, originality and essentiality, goes back to the African roots. Albums are always more creative and hundreds of fantastic artists take on the stage: Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff

Reggae is the heartbeat of Jamaica – a brand of reggae music as strongly identified with the island as R&B is with Detroit or jazz with new reggae Orleans. It’s a major factor in the Jamaican economy, at no time better demonstrated than during Reggae Sunsplash and Reggae Sumfest (enormous annual reggae festivals), when almost one-quarter million visitors arrive from overseas to dance and sway in delirious union to the soulful, syncopated beat on the tiny island.

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“In life outside music, ambiguity is not necessarily a positive attribute – it is often a sign of indecision and, in politics, a lack of firm direction – but in the world of sound, ambiguity becomes a virtue by offering many different possibility to proceed. Through music, in fact, even suffering can be pleasurable” (Barenboim, 2009). According to Barenboim, music as just to escape of their problems, they use music like as a guide to do things and to do this things with pleasure and maybe better. The music, when you listen to it even if you are in bad mood and you do not feel good you can feel satisfied. Your favorite music can inspire you to do things on a good way.

We connect reggae music to travel. Caribbean country, Jamaica is also very popular destination for many people. Thanks to combination of natural and cultural diversity, the country has turned into successful tourist destination. Jamaica is famous with its beaches, favorable climate and friendly local inhabitants.

The people who like to travel to place like this are the reggae fans, fans of Bob Marley and all the Rastafarians. Bob Marley is one of the most popular musicians in the world, and number one in this kind of music.

The reason all these people travel to Jamaica is maybe because they can find some kind of escape from their job, life and problems by getting high and listening music. Jamaicans just like Holland are with open mind about the Marijuana plants and smoking of weed. That’s and reggae music are the main reasons so many people to visit Jamaica.

Connections between reggae and Jamaican culture are many. Jamaicans are deeply linked with reggae music and with the Rastafarians they all believe in one god called JAH. We can also relate reggae culture with Jamaicans because of the colors green, yellow and red. Jamaicans are Latinos and they like to have dread-locks which are so usual for them.

Music semiology (semiotics), the semiology of music, is the study of signs as they pertain to music on a variety of levels. Following Roman Jakobson, V. Kofi Agawu adopts the idea of musical semiosis being introversive or extroversive-that is, musical signs within a text and without. Topics or various musical conventions such as horn calls, dance forms, and styles.

This means the music itself has variety of levels or with another words different style. Every style is unique by itself and has something different and something not ordinary which makes him unique. The thing which makes the reggae music unique is the way of singing and how the performers are singing about good things with slow and calm sounds which makes you relax and chill. With that music the people can escape from their everyday life and to feel better. You can not feel any kind of aggression like from some another kind of music all what you can feel pleasure and happiness. That is why two of the most popular reggae songs like

‘no woman no cry’.. And ‘..everything gonna be all right’.. Give us message which reggae fans like at most typically for that kind of music. This message refers to happiness, no worries, no stress.

Reggae Aesthetics

By definition the musical aesthetics is “concentrated on the quality and study of the beauty and enjoyment of music. Aesthetics is a sub-discipline of philosophy. It is often thought that music has the ability to affect our emotions, intellect, and psychology; lyrics can assuage our loneliness or incite our passions.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesthetics_of_music )

Anyone seriously interested in understanding contemporary Jamaican live and literature must encounter reggae as a cultural phenomenon that has engaged the spiritual, political, social, erotic, and racial dynamic of Jamaican society.  Understanding reggae’s role in the word today is to understanding the complexity and reality of the popular culture in the late twentieth century.

Reggae is a good way to examine the cultural, political and social development of Caribbean society. It is important to show that reggae influences Caribbean literature and represents complex aesthetic force. Reggae artists are known as one of the most astute poets and polemicists always striving to unshackle themselves from the capitalist colonial powers of the day.

Reggae Development

The music industry is always changing due to the interests of the listeners and the influences of many kinds of music genres and creativities. The same with how music evolves into different style because of collaboration of different styles of music. It is repeating how ska and rocksteady developed into reggae; musicians are creating different style of reggae and spreading the beats and rhythm through the whole world.

These are some highlights of the development of reggae music:

Inner Circle: Pioneer of Jamaican reggae into US television

Inner Circle is a Jamaican reggae group. The group was formed in 1968 by the brothers Ian and Roger Lewis in Jamaica. With Jacob Miller as their frontman and lead singer the band was one of the most popular in Jamaica during the 70’s, and one of few reggae bands that performed live. They are responsible for the 1987 song “Bad Boys,” which serves as the theme song for Fox Network’s long-running television program COPS. However, at first they covered soul and hits from the United States, and then also a few reggae songs, predominantly from Bob Marley. Come back hits such as “Sweat A La La Long”

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UB 40: British Pop Reggae Band in 1978

More than any other artists of their time, Britain’s UB40 have proven the power of pop-influenced reggae music. With worldwide sales topping 30 million albums during their career, the UB40 story demonstrates just how far people can go by staying true to their roots. UB40 grew up in the heart of Birmingham, one of England’s most ethnically diverse cities. The summer of 1978 saw the eight band members drawn together by their love of the Jamaican reggae vibes.

UB40’s breakthrough in America arrived in the form of 1983’s “Labor Of Love”, and its single “Red, Red Wine.” The song topped the British singles charts in 1983 and five years later landed UB40 with their first #1 smash hit in the U.S.of Autumn 1984. They were touring America and Canada in the first half of 1985, the group celebrated another hit single in July 1985 with “I Got You Babe”.

Peter Andre: One hit wonder from the down under

Peter became the first Australian male artist to debut at No. 1 in the UK, with ‘Flava’. Peter scooped two awards at the year end Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. Soon followed a total of 3 Top Five hits, including two No.1 hits in the UK and a total of 11 top ten hits worldwide. Peter’s most successful release to date, came with the release of “Mysterious Girl” which sold over 2 million copies worldwide, making it the highest selling single of 1996. “Flava” and “I feel You” followed consecutively, both debuting at number 1.

Big Mountain: American mainstream reggae in mid 90’s

Much like UB40, American reggae band Big Mountain brought a very commercialized version of Jamaican Music to the American mainstream when their cover of Peter Frampton “Baby, I Love Your Way” reached the Top Ten in early 1994. To the band’s credit, though, their three albums contain reggae roots music combined with only several R&B-ish covers, and the lineup includes two Jamaicans with excellent credentials: rhythm guitarist Tony Chin and drummer Santa Davis, both of whom played with the Peter Tosh band and the Soul Syndicate.

Shaggy: The most commercial reggae genre in the 90’s was dancehall reggae

Emerging in the early ’90s, Shaggy was the biggest crossover success in dancehall reggae. Not only did he become the genre’s most commercially potent artist in the international market, he was also more than just a typical flash in the pan, managing to sustain a career over the course of several highly popular albums. Perhaps in part because he wasn’t based in he never really needed to have it both ways: virtually ignoring the hardcore dancehall crowd, his music was unabashedly geared toward good times, a friendly persona, and catchy party anthems. He wasn’t shy about lifting hooks wholesale from pop hits of the past, a chart-ready blueprint similar to that of hip-hop stars like Puff Daddy, but he also had fairly eclectic tastes, giving his records a musical variety lacking from other dancehall stars. As a result, he became one of the scant few reggae artists to top the album and pop singles charts in America, not to mention numerous other countries where he’s had even greater success.

Sean Paul: The rise of Dance Hall into Rap Hip Hop Reggae

Paul released his debut single, “Baby Girl,” with producer Jeremy Harding in 1996; it proved a significant success, leading to further Jamaican hits like “Nah Get No Bly (One More Try),” “Deport Them,” “Excite Me,” “Infiltrate,” and “Hackle Mi.” In 1999, Sean Paul started to make inroads to American audiences; he was first commissioned to collaborate with fellow dancehall hitmaker Mr. Vegas on a production for rapper DMX; titled “Here Comes the Boom,” the song was included in director Hype Williams’ film Belly. Also that year, Paul scored a Top Ten hit on the Billboard rap charts with “Hot Gal Today.” Unfortunately, Paul had a very public falling out with Mr. Vegas over the packaging of the latter’s remix of “Hot Gal Today”; still, it didn’t slow Paul’s career momentum, as he played the Summer Jam 2000 in New York City, the center of his American popularity. That fall, Paul released his first album on VP Records; the sprawling Stage One collected many of Paul’s previous hit singles and compilation cuts, plus a few brand-new tracks. 2002’s Dutty Rock and 2005’s The Trinity were extremely successful. Both albums peaked in the Top Ten of the album chart and featured a handful of mainstream smashes.

Daddy Yankee: Reggae Ton Pioneer and Entrepreneur

In the early 1990s, hip hop was overshadowed by Spanish reggae coming in from Panama and rather than make a decision for one type of music over another, Yankee and like-minded friends began to rap over the popular dancehall music, creating a new musical fusion that over time was named reggaeton.

While hip hop and rap were still underground movements in Puerto Rico, there was one club where the new fusion was welcome called The Noise. Yankee started hanging out with the rappers and DJs at the club, and there he met the DJ/producer Playero, who gave him his start, featuring the budding artist on the 1992 album Playero 37, and who helped him with his full-length debut album, No Mercy, that was released in 1995. No Mercy did not receive much recognition, and Yankee continued recording as a guest artist on several other albums.

“Gasolina” made it to the top of Billboard’s “Hot 100” and even today may well be the single that non-Latinos associate with reggaeton, the album’s phenomenal success within the Latino community was “Lo Que Paso, Paso.”

Hermeneutics of Reggae

Hermeneutics is the study of interpretation theory, and can be either the art of interpretation, or the theory and practice of interpretation.

In sociology, hermeneutics means the interpretation and understanding of social events by analyzing their meanings to the human participants and their culture. It enjoyed prominence during the sixties and seventies, and differs from other interpretative schools of sociology in that it emphasizes the importance of the context as well as the form of any given social behavior. The central principle of hermeneutics is that it is only possible to grasp the meaning of an action or statement by relating it to the whole discourse or world-view from which it originates: for instance, why would people dance along to reggae music while he would probably not familiar with reggae.

Roger Savage, author of “Hermeneutics and Music” said that people’s roles of judgment and imagination play both in our experiences of music and its critical interpretation, and reevaluates our current understandings of music’s transformative power.

There fore Reggae has been created and always related as music with beats of happiness. The message in the music itself is about leaving the worries behind and enjoys the life in a relaxing way. This beats and message has been delivered through the whole world in so many years before. It is not anymore related to Jamaica or Caribbean but it is now own by the world. Bob Marley, Marijuana leaf and the Jamaican flag colors are just becoming a symbol of the Reggae history and knowledge to where it came from.

Reggae is interpreted as the music of happiness. The experiences of reggae music and the party scenes have been created, especially through the 90’s when dancehall reggae was born and developed to it is today. People always like to feel happy. Reggae is infectiously inviting people to dance along the beat and become a guilty pleasure for some people. Reggae is not anymore about third world country and culture, not about marijuana smokers, not about Rastafarian anymore. Wherever the reggae beats are played, class, race and nationality are no longer exist.


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