THE GENRE OF REGGAE

Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to most types of popular Jamaican dance music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that evolved out of the earlier genres of ska and rock steady. By the 1970s it had become an international style that was particularly popular in Britain, the United States, and Africa. It was widely perceived as a voice of the oppressed. According to an early definition in The Dictionary of Jamaican English (1980), reggae is based on ska, an earlier form of Jamaican popular music, and employs a heavy four-beat rhythm driven by drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, and the “scraper,” a corrugated stick that is rubbed by a plain stick.In the mid-1960s, under the direction of producers such as Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd, Jamaican musicians dramatically slowed the tempo of ska whose energetic rhythms reflected the optimism that had heralded Jamaica's Independence from Britain in 1962. The musical style that resulted, rock steady, was short-lived but brought fame to such performers as the Heptones and Alton Ellis. Reggae evolved from these roots and bore the weight of increasingly politicized lyrics that addressed social and economic injustice. Reggae is now a world-renowned genre of music and appeals to many audiences.

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