Westchester Community College
Professor Linda T .Kalfayan
Voice and Diction
Reggae, a Caribbean music developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s, one of the most influential styles of world popular music. The style often associated with political protest, combined elements of Jamaican folk music, Afro-Caribbean music and American R&B, reggae music primarily originated from the progressive developments of rock steady and ska. Bob Marley, a popular reggae musician, said that the term reggae came from the Spanish term for “the king’s music”. Today, reggae music continues to be a significant influence on many other genres such as black music, soul music and chill out music. Reggae has its roots in Jamaican musical styles such as mento, ska, and rock steady. The origins can be traced to the 1940s and the emergence of mento, a hybrid folk-song genre that combines folk music traditions with calypso, the national music of Trinidad. Mento features rhythmic, syncopated guitar strumming and lively, topical lyrics.
In the 1950s Jamaican musicians began to experiment with drum and bass patterns, inspired by the R&B broadcast by radio stations in the United States. By the 1960s R&B and mento had fused into an upbeat style of dance music known as ska. Influenced by American jazz, ska was predominantly instrumental. Rhythmically it stressed the second and fourth beats of a measure. Ska was popularized in the communities by sound systems, van equipped with record turntables that traveled the slums of the Jamaican capital of Kingston, playing the latest hit recordings.
By the mid-1960s a mellower version of ska, known as rock steady, became the more popular form. In contrast to ska, the sparse, slower rhythms of rock steady allowed the vocalist to play a greater role. This encouraged the formation of a number of Jamaican pop vocal groups. Rock steady also put more emphasis on the...
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