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Reggae Developed Out Of Which Style Of Jamaican Music Reggae Developed Out Of Which Style Of Jamaican Music


Reggae Developed Out Of Which Style Of Jamaican Music

Written by: Caprice Sheehy

Discover the origins of reggae, the iconic Jamaican music genre that emerged from which style of music? Explore this quizlet to find out more about reggae's development and influences.

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Welcome to the vibrant world of reggae music! With its infectious rhythms, soulful melodies, and powerful messages, reggae has captured the hearts and minds of people all over the globe. Originating in Jamaica, reggae has become a genre that transcends borders, languages, and cultures.

In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history and development of reggae music. From its roots in Jamaican folk music to its transformation into a worldwide phenomenon, we will explore the rich heritage and influence of this genre. So, put on your favorite reggae tunes and join us on this journey through the captivating world of reggae.

Before we dive into reggae, let’s take a step back and get a glimpse of the musical landscape that set the stage for its emergence.

Jamaica, the birthplace of reggae, is known for its vibrant music scene. The island’s unique history and diverse cultural mix have given rise to a myriad of musical styles, each with its own distinct sound and flavor.

From mento, calypso, and ska to rocksteady and reggae, Jamaican music has continually evolved and reinvented itself, reflecting the social and political climate of the times. Each musical style has left its mark on the musical landscape, shaping the sound of reggae as we know it today.

Reggae, as we now know it, developed out of several Jamaican music styles, blending elements of ska and rocksteady with a newfound emphasis on the bassline and a laid-back, offbeat rhythm. It emerged in the late 1960s and gained international recognition in the 1970s, thanks to iconic artists such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer.

Reggae’s popularity skyrocketed in the 1970s, propelled by powerful and socially conscious lyrics that spoke to the struggles of the oppressed and marginalized. It became not just a genre of music, but a means of expressing political and social commentary, advocating for justice, equality, and love.


Overview of Jamaican Music

To understand the development of reggae music, it is essential to have an overview of the rich musical heritage of Jamaica. The island’s musical traditions are deeply rooted in African, European, and indigenous Taino influences, creating a vibrant and unique musical tapestry.

Mento, also known as Jamaican calypso, was one of the earliest forms of popular music in Jamaica. It emerged in the late 19th century and featured lively rhythms, storytelling lyrics, and the use of traditional instruments like the banjo and maracas. Mento served as a form of entertainment and was often played at festivals, parties, and street gatherings.

In the 1950s, mento paved the way for the rise of ska, a fast-paced genre characterized by its upbeat tempo and prominent brass section. Ska music provided a soundtrack to Jamaica’s independence in 1962 and gained popularity both locally and internationally.

Following the ska era, the music evolved into rocksteady, a slower and more soulful genre characterized by its smooth grooves and romantic themes. Rocksteady was a vital transitional phase in the development of reggae, with artists like Alton Ellis and The Heptones trailblazing the way.

Finally, reggae emerged in the late 1960s, combining elements of ska and rocksteady with a distinct rhythm known as the “one-drop.” This rhythm, characterized by its emphasis on the third beat of every measure, created the signature reggae sound that captivated listeners worldwide.

Jamaican music has always been deeply intertwined with the country’s social and political landscape. It served as a medium for expressing the struggles, hopes, and aspirations of the Jamaican people.

Themes of resistance, social injustice, equality, and spirituality are prevalent in the lyrics of reggae songs. It gave voice to the marginalized, addressing pressing issues such as poverty, racism, and political corruption. The music became a powerful tool for social commentary and a source of empowerment for the Jamaican people.

Reggae’s popularity transcended Jamaica’s borders, with artists like Bob Marley becoming global icons for their music and message. Reggae’s influence can be heard in various genres worldwide, from pop and rock to hip-hop and electronic music.

Now that we have a glimpse of the musical landscape that paved the way for reggae’s emergence, let’s delve deeper into the development and characteristics of this unique genre.


Development of Reggae Music

The development of reggae music can be traced back to the late 1960s in Jamaica. It was a time of social and political change, with the country’s music reflecting the shifting cultural landscape.

Reggae developed as a fusion of ska and rocksteady, incorporating elements of R&B, jazz, and traditional Jamaican folk music. Some key figures in this transition were musicians such as Ernest Ranglin, Jackie Mittoo, and The Skatalites.

One of the significant stylistic innovations of reggae was the shift in emphasis from the offbeat rhythm of ska to the laid-back, syncopated rhythm known as the “skank.” The skank created a distinctive groove, with the guitar playing the iconic choppy chords on the second and fourth beats of the measure.

The bassline also played a crucial role in the development of reggae. Bassists like Aston “Family Man” Barrett and Robbie Shakespeare pioneered the use of repetitive, melodic basslines that anchored the songs and gave them a powerful, rhythmic foundation.

Furthermore, the lyrics of reggae music became increasingly political and socially conscious during this time. Artists used their music as a platform to address issues such as poverty, inequality, and oppression. They spoke out against racism, colonialism, and economic exploitation.

The emergence of reggae was also closely tied to the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica, which promoted peace, love, and equality while advocating for the recognition and rights of black Jamaicans. Many reggae artists identified with Rastafari and incorporated its spiritual and philosophical beliefs into their music.

Reggae gained international recognition in the 1970s, thanks to artists like Bob Marley and the Wailers. Marley’s album “Catch a Fire” and the iconic song “No Woman, No Cry” resonated with listeners worldwide, propelling reggae into the mainstream music scene.

The popularity of reggae continued to grow throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with artists such as Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, and Burning Spear making significant contributions to the genre.

Reggae music also expanded its influence beyond Jamaican borders, with the emergence of reggae scenes in countries like the UK, the USA, and Africa. These scenes brought their own unique flavor to reggae, blending it with local musical influences and creating diverse subgenres.

The 21st century has seen the continued evolution of reggae, with artists like Damian Marley, Chronixx, and Koffee pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new sounds while staying true to the genre’s roots.

Reggae remains a powerful force in music, representing a message of unity, love, and social justice. Its infectious rhythms and uplifting lyrics continue to inspire and captivate listeners around the world.


Influence of Jamaican Music Styles

Jamaican music styles have had a significant influence not only on reggae but also on various genres across the globe. These unique styles have woven their way into the fabric of popular music, shaping its sound and leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

One of the earliest Jamaican music styles to have a lasting impact was ska. Its high-energy beats and infectious melodies caught the attention of musicians worldwide. Ska’s lively horns and upbeat tempo laid the foundation for the development of genres like rocksteady and reggae.

Rocksteady, with its slower tempo and laid-back grooves, introduced a new sound to Jamaican music. Artists like Desmond Dekker and The Maytals popularized this style, which incorporated elements of American R&B and soul music.

When reggae emerged in the late 1960s, it built upon the foundations established by ska and rocksteady. Reggae took the syncopated rhythm and bassline-driven sound to new heights, creating a genre that reverberated with audiences across the globe.

The influence of Jamaican music styles extended beyond reggae into other genres, particularly in the United Kingdom. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the UK witnessed the rise of the two-tone movement, which fused ska and punk rock. Bands like The Specials and Madness infused their music with the spirit of Jamaican ska, creating a unique and energetic sound that resonated with audiences.

Furthermore, Jamaican music styles have also left their mark on hip-hop and electronic music. Artists and producers have sampled iconic reggae tracks, incorporating the distinctive sound and vibe into their own creations. From The Fugees’ reimagining of “Killing Me Softly” to electronic music tracks infused with reggae-inspired beats, Jamaican music continues to influence and inspire artists in various genres.

Another genre heavily influenced by Jamaican music is dancehall. Dancehall originated in Jamaica in the late 1970s and evolved from reggae, incorporating digital instrumentation, faster tempos, and the distinct vocal style known as “toasting.” Artists such as Shabba Ranks, Beenie Man, and Sean Paul have brought dancehall to the global stage, earning international acclaim and shaping the sound of contemporary pop and hip-hop.

Jamaican music styles have permeated the international music scene, connecting people from different cultures and backgrounds through the universal language of music. The captivating rhythms, soulful melodies, and powerful messages continue to captivate audiences, ensuring that the influence of Jamaican music will endure for generations to come.


Characteristics of Reggae Music

Reggae music is renowned for its distinctive sound and unique characteristics that set it apart from other genres. From its rhythmic patterns to its lyrical themes, reggae possesses a set of defining features that make it instantly recognizable and captivating for listeners.

One of the most prominent characteristics of reggae is its emphasis on the offbeat rhythm and syncopated accents. The guitar, often played on the second and fourth beat of each measure, creates the iconic “skank” rhythm that gives reggae its infectious groove. This rhythmic pattern, combined with the steady bassline and the syncopated drums, forms the foundation of reggae music.

The bassline in reggae is fundamental to the genre’s sound. Bassists play melodic and repetitive lines that anchor the songs and create a deep, rumbling groove. The prominence of the bassline is one of the factors that give reggae its distinctive and powerful sound.

In addition to its rhythmic elements, reggae is characterized by its soulful melodies and heartfelt vocals. The singers often employ a smooth and relaxed vocal style, delivering lyrics that touch upon a range of themes, including love, social justice, spirituality, and personal struggle. The use of harmonies and vocal harmonizations is also prevalent in reggae music, adding depth and richness to the overall sound.

Reggae lyrics often serve as a form of social commentary, addressing issues such as poverty, inequality, political oppression, and cultural identity. Artists use their music as a platform to express their views, advocate for change, and shed light on the challenges faced by marginalized communities. The lyrics convey powerful messages of empowerment, unity, and resilience.

The incorporation of traditional Jamaican folk music elements is another characteristic of reggae. The influence of mento, calypso, and other folk styles can be heard in the melodies, rhythms, and instrumentation of reggae songs. This blend of traditional and contemporary sounds creates a rich and dynamic musical experience.

Reggae music often features instrumental solos, with musicians showcasing their skills on instruments like the guitar, keyboards, saxophone, and trombone. These solos provide moments of improvisation and allow individual musicians to shine, contributing to the overall energy and excitement of the music.

Moreover, the production techniques used in reggae play a significant role in shaping its sound. Dub, a subgenre of reggae, introduced the use of echo, reverb, and other studio effects to create a sense of space and depth in the music. These techniques became integral to reggae production and are still utilized in modern reggae recordings.

Reggae’s laid-back and infectious vibe, socially conscious lyrics, and mesmerizing rhythms have made it a genre beloved by people worldwide. It continues to be a powerful form of artistic expression, connecting people through its universal themes and creating a sense of unity and positivity.


Popular Reggae Artists and Songs

The world of reggae music is populated with numerous talented artists who have made significant contributions to the genre. These musicians, with their iconic songs, have helped popularize reggae and spread its message of love, unity, and social justice to audiences around the world. Here are some of the most influential reggae artists and their unforgettable songs:

  • Bob Marley and the Wailers: Bob Marley, the undisputed king of reggae, is synonymous with the genre itself. His powerful and soul-stirring voice, combined with his lyrical prowess, captivated millions. Hits like “One Love,” “No Woman, No Cry,” and “Redemption Song” continue to resonate with generations, making Bob Marley a timeless legend.
  • Peter Tosh: Peter Tosh, a founding member of The Wailers, had a distinctive voice and a rebellious spirit. His songs such as “Legalize It” and “Equal Rights” carried strong political messages and advocated for the rights of the marginalized, challenging societal norms and injustice.
  • Bunny Wailer: Bunny Wailer, another member of The Wailers, brought a spiritual and introspective element to reggae. His melodic and soothing voice can be heard on tracks like “Blackheart Man” and “Dreamland,” which showcase his profound songwriting and poetic lyrics.
  • Toots and the Maytals: Known for their energetic and infectious performances, Toots and the Maytals played a significant role in popularizing reggae. Hits like “Pressure Drop” and “54-46 Was My Number” exemplify their soulful sound and distinctive vocal harmonies.
  • Jimmy Cliff: Jimmy Cliff’s music blended reggae with elements of soul and pop, creating a unique and melodic sound. His international breakthrough came with the film “The Harder They Come” and the iconic title track, which introduced reggae to a global audience.
  • Burning Spear: A pioneer of roots reggae, Burning Spear’s powerful voice and socially conscious lyrics made a lasting impact. Songs like “Marcus Garvey” and “Slavery Days” explore themes of African pride, cultural identity, and historical injustices.
  • Steel Pulse: With their politically charged lyrics and infectious rhythms, Steel Pulse became one of the most influential reggae bands. Tracks like “Handsworth Revolution” and “Ku Klux Klan” address topics of racism, social inequality, and the struggle for justice.
  • Inner Circle: Inner Circle is best known for their hit song “Bad Boys,” which became the theme song for the popular TV show “Cops.” Their infectious sound and catchy melodies have made them a staple in reggae music.

These are just a few of the standout artists and songs in the realm of reggae music. However, the influence and impact of reggae extend far beyond this list, with countless other talented musicians who have contributed to the vibrant and diverse reggae landscape.

Whether it’s the timeless classics of Bob Marley, the powerful message of political activism from Peter Tosh, or the soulful melodies of Jimmy Cliff, these artists and their songs continue to inspire and uplift audiences, spreading the positive vibrations of reggae music.


Impact of Reggae on Jamaican Culture

Reggae music has had a profound and far-reaching impact on Jamaican culture, influencing various aspects of society and shaping the identity of the nation. It has become synonymous with Jamaica and has played a pivotal role in promoting Jamaican culture to the world.

One of the most significant impacts of reggae on Jamaican culture is its role in promoting social and political consciousness. Reggae artists have used their music as a platform to address pressing issues such as poverty, inequality, and political corruption. Through their lyrics, they have advocated for justice, equality, and love. Reggae has given a voice to the marginalized, fostering a sense of unity, empowerment, and resilience among Jamaicans.

The music has also played a central role in the development of Rastafarian culture in Jamaica. Rastafarianism, a religious and cultural movement deeply connected to reggae, promotes spiritual awareness, social justice, and the recognition of African identity. Rastafarian symbols and beliefs, including the iconic dreadlocks, Nyabinghi drumming, and references to Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, are interwoven into reggae music, contributing to the cultural fabric of Jamaica.

Reggae music has become a vital part of Jamaican tourism and the island’s cultural heritage. Tourists from around the world flock to Jamaica to experience the reggae scene, visit Bob Marley’s former residence and museum, and attend live performances and music festivals. Reggae has become a cultural export, attracting visitors and generating revenue for the country.

Furthermore, reggae has influenced various art forms in Jamaica, including visual arts, fashion, and dance. The vibrant and colorful artwork often associated with reggae reflects the spirit and energy of the music. Jamaican fashion, with its bold patterns, bright colors, and relaxed style, has been influenced by reggae’s free-spirited and laid-back vibe. Dance styles such as ska, rocksteady, and dancehall have originated from reggae rhythms, becoming integral parts of Jamaican culture and expressions of creativity and self-expression.

In addition to its impact on culture, reggae music has played a significant role in the economy of Jamaica. The music industry, including recording studios, production companies, and live performances, provides employment opportunities for musicians, producers, sound engineers, and other industry professionals. Reggae festivals, such as Reggae Sumfest and Rebel Salute, attract thousands of attendees, contributing to the local economy through tourism and revenue generation.

Overall, reggae music has left an indelible mark on Jamaican culture, serving as a source of pride, identity, and unity. It has brought social and political issues to the forefront, inspired artistic expression, and become an iconic representation of the spirit and soul of Jamaica. The legacy of reggae continues to shape Jamaican culture and resonate with audiences worldwide, standing as a testament to the power of music to bring about positive change and cultural transformation.



Reggae music, born out of Jamaica’s rich cultural heritage, has evolved into a genre that transcends boundaries and resonates with people around the world. From its roots in ska and rocksteady to its emergence as a worldwide phenomenon, reggae has left an indelible mark on the music industry and popular culture.

The unique characteristics of reggae, including its syncopated rhythm, melodic basslines, and socially conscious lyrics, have captivated audiences and made it a powerful form of artistic expression. Through reggae, artists have addressed themes of social justice, equality, and spirituality, using their music as a platform for advocacy and empowerment.

Reggae has not only influenced the development of other genres but has also had a profound impact on Jamaican culture. It has given a voice to the marginalized, fostered a sense of unity, and played a crucial role in the promotion of Jamaican culture internationally. Reggae has become a symbol of Jamaica’s identity, attracting tourists and generating revenue for the country.

Moreover, reggae’s impact extends beyond the realm of music. It has influenced various art forms, ranging from visual arts to dance, and has contributed to the economic growth of Jamaica through the music industry and tourism.

In conclusion, reggae music is a powerful force that continues to inspire, uplift, and unite people across the globe. Its infectious rhythms, soulful melodies, and powerful messages have embedded themselves into the fabric of society, promoting social change, cultural identity, and the pursuit of equality. As reggae continues to evolve, its impact on the world of music and the cultural landscape of Jamaica will undoubtedly endure, ensuring its legacy for generations to come.