I am trying to become more of an efficient Reggae player any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Lowend4s, Feb 5, 2005.

  1. Lowend4s


    Jan 2, 2001
    Since the age of 15 island grooves have really caught my ear. I love how every song really stresses the bass. Any suggestions to increasing my reggae playing?

    I understand that you must groove with a very laid back almost lazy feel but I need some help with the "one drop" technique. I need a good explanation, you stress the 2 and 4?
  2. Lowend4s


    Jan 2, 2001
    I also understand that silence plays a big role in the line.
  3. Lowend4s


    Jan 2, 2001
    Well ive been looking into it some more, let me see if I have this right.

    The one drop technique involves the drummer hitting the bass pedal on the 2 and 4 (as opposed to the 1 and 3) and leaving silence on the 1. So is the snare supposed to hit on the 1 and 3? Or keep it on 2 and 4 still?

    How does the bass work during this? No bass on the 1?
  4. I understand that the one drop is accented on the 3 ( the bass pedal & snare ) with a triplet feel on the hi-hat for an example listen to ONE DROP by bob marley

    Learn the basic riddims that you hear in most reggae esp. when everyone accents together , as well as listening to reggae players clinches ( steel pulse , bob marley , burning spear , alpha blondy , Black uhuru, etc..) there are countless others
  5. Also to answer your question of how the bass works in reggae
    The best thing is to be simple with space hard to explain in words you gotta feel it I mean you can play on the downbeat as well as start on the upbeat
    I mean Robbie shakesphere is the perfect example of simplicity but the bottom line is the groove once you listen to reggae that much you begin to pick up on the feel of the style as well as the sound
    You'd heear dat mun
  6. Panther


    Dec 9, 2004
    Nova Scotia
    I just thought about this myself this past weekend...

    Trying to improve my creativity, I stuck in a couple of Bob Marley CD's.

    Technically, the basslines would be considered 'easy' by just listening, but you must learn where NOT to play, or the feel is gone from the song. There are 'patterns' as to the lines I heard, but there are subtle pauses that take practice to get the timing down. Often it's when the note it played-not everything is on the one beat.
  7. Yep, I agree with all of that (I :meh: think).

    Bass/Snare on 3 beat

    Rhythm Guitar/Keys on 2 and 4 beat.

    Bass a-bubbling underneath it all. Almost like a "counter melody" ? :D :D
  8. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    Now adays, there are instructional bass books on every style of playing imaginable.

    That said the best way to learn any music style is to listen, learn and emulate.

    A great place to start is Bob Marley's live album, "Babylon By Bus" which captures the groove and intensity of Marley.

    I was never a big reggae fan but what I learned from Aston "Family Man" Barret, bass player with Marley, is the importance of silence. Where he does not play is equally important as where he does. While reggae takes some learning, there is definitely a "pocket" of where notes should go.
  9. +++++1. :D :D
  10. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm learning more and more that in any kind of music, it's not just 'when you don't play', but exactly when you cut notes off - the length of the notes.

  11. Listen -- absorb -- feel it ... be able to sing it ... understand the drumming feel underneath and the fills & accents ... Once you finally want to analyze the lines, especially Familyman, you'll find all kinds of interesting dotted notes & rests, quarter-note triplets, etc. Far more complex rhythmic variety than Robbie. So many greats to dig -- I'd have no trouble listing 50 Jamaican bassists.

    But check out the Augustus Pablo sessions: lots of different bassists, including Robbie & Familyman; lots of great drummers like Lloyd "Tinleg" Adams and Carly.
    Another favorite Familyman line: "One One Cocoa" by Gregory Isaacs.

    Feel it.
  12. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Reggae in a nutshell...

    ...well there's no such thing...but I have played Jamaican music for over 15 years now...and there are just so many types of reggae out there that it's hard to define it in a thread like this.

    If you're looking for that traditional 'roots' one-drop feel, then stay off the one, and make sure you have a good rest in the groove as well. This creates a push-pull that makes the groove. The drummer does kick 2 & 4 but no snare on the one otherwise you're in polka land. Try synching up the snare (Cross stick) and the kick. All drum color should be between high hat and snare. The beat for emphasis in the band should be the 3. On the bass side of things, you lots of 1's & 5ths... and octaves...stay away from the 3rd, etc. Bass should be the lead instrument in reggae, but in many cases follows a vocal line too. Reggae bass is never about 'lazy' or lax time, but you can play with the time by playing back off the beat and then snaping back on (hard to describe this in writing, but it's something that Lloyd Brevett does well as does Flabba Holt of Roots Radics. If you want a slightly updated yet roots feel, try 4 on the floor and more of a Robbie Shakespear feel by playing the one but finding a sweet rest in the measure too.

    Now, there are plenty of other authentic feels beyond one drop...keep in mind that modern Jamaican music has a history as long and diverse as R&R in the US. For info about reggae music, I'd check out the Steve Barrow's "Rough Guide to Reggae", beyond a music guide book, it's an ethnographic study of the history of jamaican music. I would also suggest checking out some of the current modern roots bands like John Brown's Body...they post full shows for free download at the Live Music Archive.

    Also remember that roots reggae in the islands is now oldies music, and even at the time, few of those artists actually played live at the 60 BPM that the original studio versions of those records were recorded at.
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