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Ska Theory?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by AlphaMale, Sep 7, 2008.

  1. AlphaMale


    Oct 30, 2006
    Ventura County

    But these are the two songs I think of when I think of Ska, I'm not a ska expert, but I'm interested in Ska. I know modern rock seems to be modal, while jazz and early rock seem to be based off chords and chord changes, what about ska? What music theory goes into ska? What are the common chord changes? They seem to be soloing over chords like in jazz. Basically any advice you can give me into understand how to write and play ska.
  2. RiseAgainst


    Jun 4, 2008
    off beat clean guitar with flowing finger picking for bass and sometimes slap+pop, horns are big also. Heavily influenced by American Blues, jazz and reggae... Check out mighty mighty bosstones, Less Than Jake (Less so though), Reel Big Fish, the Toasters.

    Bass is pretty big in the mix most times while guitar is really light and clean, with horns over the top. I don't really know that theres a 'set' way to organize chord changes, from my experience from band to band some use bar chords, others power chords but always consistently the guitar is offbeat, clean, and bass is flowing up and down. Tis good.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Originally Ska was a case of Jazz coming to the West Indies and local groups wanting to play it!

    So - I see it as a mixture of Jazz and things like Calypso..?

    Calypso would only use chords that were diatonic to the key and wouldn't change key.

    Ska introduced walking bass lines - like in Jazz - but there were no chromatic passing notes - it's all chord tones.

    Gradually, Ska and Reggae developed - but basically they started out as diatonic music.
  4. What Bruce said.

    Ska was born from mixing Calypso and Mento from the Caribbean music to Jazz, Soul, RnB and Boogie Woogie from the U.S.A.

    Traditional Ska is characterised by a syncopated guitar (every up beat) and/or piano, over a walking bass line. The drum beat strong tempo is on 2nd and 4th.

    Now, ska evolved and what you think is ska now is not what was ska in the 1960s. So while there are common grounds with today's ska, it is not the same.

    Example of ska drum beat: http://www.expertvillage.com/video/63878_drums-reggae-ska-beat.htm

    Ska guitar:
  5. yeah, definitely dont recommend any third wave stuff to the guy, since a lot of that is just poppy rock or punk with horns (although I looove the bosstones) check out Hepcat, The Pietasters and The Slackers for modern bands nailing the first and second wave style. I cant tell you much about the theory involved, as the important part is the feel and the rhythm. if you get that down, the harmony will come to you with a lot of listening.

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