Reggae Music Birth and Growth

# Reggae Music- The People Behind Reggae Music 


Reggae music is the heartbeat of jamaica music. Reggae attracts thousands of visitors to Jamaica every year. I want to relate to you two developments that took place in the 1950s that introduced Jamaicans to something new.


The first commercial radio station, Radio Jamaica and Redifusion (RJR), began broadcasting, and many became fascinated with the American rhythm and blues (R&B).


I heard that many Jamaicans took to R&B because it had a similar beat to Mento. Mento was the popular dance music before the introduction of sound system playing reggae music and dancehall music.



The second life changing experience in the early fifties was the intruction of Sound System and Deejays (DJ). A few creative entrepreneurs began putting together creative ideas what became know as Sound Systems. 


I can vividly remember as a boy growing up in the rural area, stiff rivalry between two sound systems with who can play the latest and hottest records to draw the biggest crowd to the ‘lawn or ‘dance hall’.

Reggae music is Jamaica’s contribution to world music.

The lucrative talent of the ‘disc jockey’ or ‘deejay (DJ) evolved out of the sound system. DJs play and introduced the records and created a smooth pattern which they say he is riding the rhythm to keep the fans happy and moving to the beat.


One of Jamaica’s major contribution to the world is “Reggae music” originally referred to the that became popular from 1060 onwards but is in these days used as a generic term for for all Jamaica’s popular music since 1960.


The music is generally classified from the prevailing beat a Ska (about 1960-66), Rock Steady (1966-68), Reggae music 1969 to the present), Dancehall (1983 to the present).


Outside of Jamaica, Dancehall is sometimes called ‘Reggae’ or ‘Dub’.

The legendary King of Reggae Music

Reggae Music Robert Nesta Marley


Thousands of visitors come to Jamaica every year simply for the Reggae Music. This popular cultural lifestyle for many started out in the early 1960s as Ska, then to Rock Steady, then to Reggae music.


Dancehall rolled in during the early 1980s and grew compatible with Reggae music. Outside of Jamaica Dancehall is often referred to as ‘Ragga’ or ‘Dub’. 


The style Ska develop as R&B caught on, and local singers began to produce music records with two of the biggest sound system promoters Sir Clement ‘Coxone’ Dodd and Duke Reid. A famed record producer, Sir Clement Dodd was one of the pioneers of Jamaican pop music from Ska to early Dance-hall.


He nurtured the careers of nearly every internationally renowned Jamaican artiste and was one of the first to record local talent in his legendary “Studio one Recording Studio”.


The music like the dance it created was high energy, and became known as Ska. 


Ska was basically instrumental, with a combination of traditional mento, revival religious music, American swing, bebop and rhythm and blues and the Rastafarian drumming. 


Ska came to a climax in the mid sixties, and the aggressive, energetic and tedious beat began slowing down to what became known as ‘Rock Steady’ with its accent on the bass and drum rhythm.


The introduction of festival songs from 1966 onwards, helped to give more credence to what was seen by the elite as a marginal form.


Reggae music was born, by the late sixties the music was changing again, and the tempo speeded up. During this time The Maytals produced the song ‘Do the Reggay’ in 1968 where the name reggae stuck.


Development of Reggae Music

The first full-length featured film ‘The Harder They Came‘ (1972) with Jimmy Cliff had a brilliant reggae music sound-track, which helped to put the music in the international arena.


The word reggae was originally spelt ‘reggay’ has been attributed to many sources, but the song by Toots and the Maytals ‘Do The Reggay‘ in 1968 is widely known to be the first use of the word in music.


Reggae music has grown directly out of the experience of the people and perhaps the main reason it connect with people everywhere.


Reggae music is heard and played all over the world, in virtually every country. You may ask, What really is Reggae? As Toots Hibbert said, ‘reggae is just a name. Where music is concerned, reggae music is a combination of communication…. reggae means real music, music that tells a good story, music you can relate to, music you can make sense out of.’


You should take note that during this time many of the singers received international recognition, one of the most notable is Robert ‘Bob’ Marley. Rastafarianism became a dominant influence on the music because many of the artists were Rastafarians.


The ‘Roots’ reggae faded into the background after the death of Bob Marley in 1981, and Dancehall took over as reggae latest manifestation.


Dancehall was able to utilize computer in creating the rhythm where it allowed the music exposure to almost limitless ‘Versions’ of the old Ska and Rock Steady to the new generation.


One of the computer technological manipulations was called ‘dub’, which is now the vocabulary and practice of dance culture world wide. Dub gave rise to the genre of Dub Poetry where the poet speaks and carry the words with the instrumental reggae music rhythm.


 Love for Reggae music is a top 10 ten reasons to visit Jamaica


The International Reggae Music Studies Centre was established at the University of the West Indies (Mona) in 1993, to facilitate research and teaching on the music and it effect on society.


One Love, One Heart

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