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Differences? Rocksteady, reggae, ska, roots reggae etc etc

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Tommygunn, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn

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    I've always liked the these genres, not REALLY followed them or I'd know by now. First introduced to my by Sublime and the I got into MMBT, reel big fish, marley, and a couple others. But I was in a surf shop the other day getting a new leash and they has this music on the radio.. It was like sublime in the fact that it had heavy rock influence and the way the vocals were done were similler, but it was a lot faster and sounded a lot more stereotypical carribean, and the singer sounded jamacian. At first I thought it might have been a Sublime song I had never heard before but I soon realized it wasn't. So what are the differences? (I tried wiki but it didn't explain it well enough for me to get it) And what kinda music would I have been listening to? I liked it A LOT, if I could ever find it again.

    Thanks.
  2. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

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    It's as much a chronological progression as it is a stylistic distinction, if that makes sense. Read up on the history and you'll have this question answered and much, much more.
  3. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

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    It's difficult to answer your question regarding what you were listening to without more information. What is "a lot faster"? It's possible you were hearing ska but you could also have been hearing soca (which is very different from ska, rocksteady or reggae but it would fit with the "Caribbean sound" part of your description). Soca is derived mainly from calypso and is associated primarily with Trinidad (although soca is big on several other Caribbean islands). If you'd like some suggestions I can hook you up. As for your question concerning Jamaican music in general: the answer is potentially very long. I will, however, give you a quick crash course. Ska became popular in Jamaica in the early 1960s. When Jamaica gained its independence in 1962 there was a sudden desire amongst many Jamaicans to hear music with a strong Jamaican identity. Prior to independence, Jamaican music that did not closely resemble the music coming from the U.S. at the time was, in Jamaica, largely looked down upon. Ska was basically the product of musicians trained in jazz and exposed to, amongst other things, R&B and calypso. The horns were a big part of early ska and vocals were not a necessary ingredient. In 1966 there was a shift in Jamaican music. Rocksteady developed and became the dominant sound for approximately two years. The most obvious difference between rocksteady and ska is the tempo. While it was not unusual for ska recordings to sit between 110 and 135 beats per minute (BPM), rocksteady tended to sit between, say, 76 and 100 BPM. The rocksteady era was largely associated with vocal groups (trios especially) harmonizing in much the same way as American groups such as the Impressions (rocksteady was, in many ways, "singer's" music). It would seem that another distinction between ska and rocksteady was the bass lines. Whereas ska tended to feature walking bass lines, rocksteady incorporated the kinds of repeated "riff-like" lines commonly associated with reggae. The differences between rocksteady and reggae seem to be a little less clear cut. The term "reggae" came into being in 1968, I believe and, like the term "rocksteady" before it, became a catchword, appearing in numerous song titles and lyrics. Instead of "doing rocksteady" on the dance floor people were now "doing the reggae". Some have suggested that early reggae was faster than rocksteady but that isn't necessarily the case. One thing that does become more apparent in reggae are the references to Rastafarianism and the unabashed use of patois. If you listen to rocksteady and ska vocals, you'll hear that the they sound much less stereotypically "Jamaican" in terms of accents and slang usage than what began appearing in reggae. "Roots" reggae refers to reggae that is tied to the notions of Rastafarianism and Garveyism. Love of Jah and leaving "Babylon" are common themes in much "roots" reggae. From a technological standpoint, there were several developments that helped propel Jamaican music in new directions during the 1970s. The most radical and influential result of such developments was undoubtedly dub. In its initial stages, dub mixes involved little more than removing the vocal track of a recording, leaving an instrumental version of the song for DJs to talk/rhyme/chant over during their sets at the many dances that would occur throughout the country. As mix engineers such as Lee Perry and King Tubby got more creative behind their mixing desks, however, the dub mix became a musical statement unto itself. By fading various tracks (bass, vocals, guitar, etc.) in and out of the mix and adding effects (such as echo) in (oftentimes) copious amounts the dub took on an identity of its own, at once connected and removed from the original piece of music. Here, many would argue, lay the beginnings of the commercial remix. In the late 1970s the predominant sound in reggae was dancehall. Dancehall, unlike roots reggae, tended to emphasize less "heavy" themes lyrically speaking, focusing not so much on, for example, repatriation but instead on subjects such as dancing and women. The Roots Radics band are the studio band most often associated with early dancehall (for an idea of classic early dancehall you can check out any number of recordings produced by Henry "Junjo" Lawes). Ragga (meaning "digital" reggae, or reggae made with drum machines and synthesizers as opposed to live bands) came into being in 1985 with Wayne Smith's "Under Mi Sleng Teng". Not too long after, the dominant ragga vocal styling was that of the "rockstone"-voiced DJ (or MC, in American hip-hop parlance - in Jamaica disc-jockeys are often referred to as "selectors", while "DJ" refers to one who "chats" on the mic) - think Shabba Ranks, Bounty Killer or Buju Banton...

    I'll let someone else take it from there as I should have been in bed an hour ago!

    Edit: sorry about the lack of separate paragraphs...
  4. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn

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    So basically just era's of a certain style of music? Makes more sense now.

    As for what I heard in the surf shop. I have no idea what any of sublime's song's bpm are but it was prolly 1 3/4 or 2x faster beat. Suggestions would be great.
  5. carlthegroover

    carlthegroover

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    Regardless of the distinction, I think they're a batch of fantastic genres. For us bassists, they provide somewhat complex rhythms and melodic basslines, and they're fun to play.

    I just started with a few ska/ reggae songs and I like the feel and groove in them.
  6. Vince Klortho

    Vince Klortho

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    bass12 : very nice descriptions. There is a movie about Bob Marley and it has an interview of him where he is asked about the differences between the three styles. He said it is basically down to the tempo and tapped each of them on his chest. He said reggae is the tempo of the heartbeat. Rocksteady is a bit faster than that and Ska is faster again.
  7. sloppy_phil

    sloppy_phil

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    that was a damn good film. lots of interesting info on the man, Jamaica, and reggae history
  8. sarcastro83

    sarcastro83

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    If you're interested in Reggae and how and when subgenres and movements within the music were born, I'd recommend this book... it is an absolutely WONDERFUL read.

    [​IMG]

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