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Hmmm....SKA anyone?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Stanley Design, Dec 2, 2003.

  1. Can you fine gentlemen give me some pointers on writing or playing ska? I am diving into the realm of a ska band and want to mae sure I have a little know how before hand.
  2. The walking line is your friend. A ton of ska basslines are just walking doubled eighths up and down a major or minor arpeggio.
  3. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    yeah, as due to the nature of ska, the bass lines are usually pretty bouncy and bright.

  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yup - just remember : no chromatic passing notes and no swing!! ;)
  5. rob_d


    Jun 14, 2001
    Get a couple Toots and the Maytalls CDs, and listen, then transcribe. That should give you a good sense of ska and allow you to create your own original lines in that style.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I've seen Toots & the Maytals playing live in my home town several times - they were fantastic every time, some of the best gigs I can remember - everybody dancing!!

    Even though they werw getting pretty old the last time I saw them - they had huge energy and kept up the grooves for hours - more energy than most 'young' bands I've seen!! ;)
  7. yes...alot of Ska stuff has those walking bassline arpegios...

    Just listen to alot of ska(Less Than jake is a good example)

    Good luck:)
  8. I'm in the same bout pretty much.
    Trying to start my own ska band...
    It sure is hard to find decent horn players who enjoy ska and practicing there instruments.

    I plan to just start playing covers with these guys and through listening and playing what I am hearing I'll be able to eventually write and play my own. Just as did with previous genres...

  9. Wait 'til you get to college. Every trombonist, saxophonist, and trumpeter who isn't good enough to play jazz (and even a lot who are) joins a ska band.
  10. playbasstoday

    playbasstoday Guest

    Dec 5, 2003
    Lancs, Todmorden.
    Dont forget Reel Big Fish!:D
  11. i am in a ska/ reggae band and we have horns and all the usual instruments. we recently started playing out at alot of venues and we are recording in the studio. it is fun.:D
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    This is no help at all but...

    My band recently supported a ska band at the Spitz, Hackney called "Ska Tronix" - they were made up of a guy from Aswad (remember them!) and a bunch of players from Jazz Jamaica.

    They were frikkin awesome, the lead singer told the audience about all the different kinds of ska they were playing, where it came from and when etc. He pointed out all the influences in the songs - it was cool.

    They were a frikkin good band and if I could find their album ANYWHERE I'd buy it immediately.

    The bass lines were very simple - 3 or 4 notes at the most more what I'd called typical reggae lines than what I think of as ska I suppose, but they had a lot going on elsewhere.
    The horns were playing some involved melody and counterpoint, far more complex than any of the ska I've heard .. in Reading ;)

    The drummer was awesome to, solid and very groovesome.

    So, "Ska-tronix" - look out for them - way cool.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Jazz Jamaica's album is really good - crossover between Jazz and Ska - with some real Ska classics done in authentic style!

    A couple of years ago, I was at Jazz Summerschool with Jason Yarde, who plays Sax and arranges/produces for Jazz Jamaica - he was my small band tutor for a week - and took us through some of his arrangements of Ska tunes. :)
  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Thanks for the recommendation Bruce I'l check it out.
    I'll also post a review if I ever find Ska tronix album. It was a prime example of stupidly simple yet ever so hard grooving bass playing. Which is alwasy nice :)
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam



    It gets top rating from all customer reviewers on Amazon - the only album I've seen where this is the case!

    Here's more from Amazon :


    Amazon.co.uk Review
    On Massive Gary Crosby's Jazz Jamaica have combined Caribbean rhythms with the power of the American big-band tradition to make music that's highly danceable but full of listening interest too. A pool of 30 musicians was used, though the uplifting rhythm team of Crosby (bass), Alex Wilson (piano), Alan Weekes (guitar) and Kenrick Rowe (drums) is present throughout. The deep contralto of Juliet Roberts is heard on the 1960s hit "My Boy Lollipop", Bacharach's "Walk on By" and "Again", but instrumental variety is the keynote of the album. Orphy Robinson's vibes provide the most distinctive solo voice while trumpet soloists include Kevin Robinson, Guy Barker and Claude Deppa. Five different trombonists, including Denis Rollins and Annie Whitehead, also have solo opportunities and saxophonists include Denys Baptiste, Andy Sheppard and the 23-three year old Soweto Kinch who takes a couple of fervent, fluent solos on alto. The main arrangers, impressively confident with the enlarged palette, are Kevin Robinson, Jason Yarde and Alex Wilson. If the infectious enthusiasm and hip-swinging rhythms of this music are reminiscent of the 80s recordings by the African Jazz Pioneers, that's hardly surprising. The common root of Caribbean music and American jazz is, of course, Africa. --Graham Colombé
    Album description
    Massive is the debut album by the Jazz Jamaica All Stars, the 20-piece big band featuring three generations of musicians drawn from diverse sectors of the British jazz community. The band fuses mento, ska, reggae and jazz, playing modern jazz standards alongside Jamaican folksongs. Featured soloists include Denys Baptiste, Andy Sheppard, Juliet Roberts, Orphy Robinson, Guy Barker, Ashley Slater, Annie Whitehead and Alex Wilson.
  16. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    Yea jazz jamaica are great.

    that album cover doesnt look familiar, but i own the one that opens with a version of parkers 'barbados'. Its one of those CD's that are near impossible to get sick of.

    On ska basslines, as lots have already said, its all 1, 3, 5's man
  17. I guess that's a good thing, right?
    [special ed voice on]I get to play with all the musical rejects in college yay[and off]
    just joking

    It seems to me that a lot of people are emphasizing the 1-3-5-7 usage in ska walking lines. But don't forget to change up the rhythm even in faster/punkier Ska they mix it up...

  18. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    i'd would have to disagree with that, cromaic works wonders with boucy ska lines.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well - "authentic" Ska is a diatonic music - this is part of its character. Change it if you want, but it won't be true to its original nature.
  20. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    I'm with Bruce... I find that when I play (and listen to) ska, there's very little if any chromatic use. If you've got a chromatic line that you think sounds good, then by all means, use it. I'd be more inclined to stick with diatonic arpeggios though. Either way, have fun... ska's a blast to play!

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