The Evolution of Reggae Music

Authors Avatar

Pauline Yeh 12S

The Evolution of Reggae Music

Reggae has sustained the test of time and remains one of the world’s last genuine folk music. The evolution of Reggae music can be traced back to the early 1900’s with ‘Mento’, which is a simple music art form of Jamaican folk music with strong African roots. Reggae music is protest songs against racism, corruption and injustice. It has close links with a religion based around the Bible that is re-interpreted from a black’s perspective, ‘Rastafarianism’.

The key features of Reggae music are the 4/4 time signatures, the emphasised beats 2 and 4 of each bar melody, the short repeated bass/guitar riffs, the syncopation, the pentatonic/ major/minor/blues scales used, the blues notes present in melody, the involvement of bass guitar and drum kit, the simple chord progression that is repeated throughout song and most importantly, the emotional lyrics about politics, freedom, poverty and religion (Rastafarianism)

Reggae was popular in both urban and rural areas. In the 30’s and early 40’s, ‘Mento’ was referred to as “Jamaican Rumba”, and “Mango Walk” was an example of a popular hit then.  In the 1950’s Mento music was subsequently classified as "Calypso".

Join now!

Next, the late 50’s and early 60’s was the evolvement of “Ska”. Being a Jamaican musician’s interpretation of R&B, Ska changed the emphasis from the first and third beats of a piece of music, to the second and fourth beats. The new offbeat style became the identity mark of Jamaican music.

First Ska, then came Rock Steady, developing into what is now known as Reggae. Reggae involves the deliberate upstroke of the guitar, a strummed beat and a dominant vocal style. The strumming sound made by the guitar in the music's beat is what distinguishes a piece ...

This is a preview of the whole essay