The History of Reggae (Part 2: The Birth of Ska)
Learn how ska, with its upbeat tempo and distinctive rhythm, played a crucial role in shaping the early reggae sound.
Ska originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and is known for its energetic, upbeat tempo, and distinct rhythm characterized by offbeat guitar chords and horn sections. It was heavily influenced by a combination of Caribbean mento and calypso music and American rhythm and blues.
Ska’s distinct sound and infectious rhythm captured the spirit of the time and became incredibly popular. Some of the early ska pioneers included artists like The Skatalites, Prince Buster, and Desmond Dekker. This music was often associated with dancing and a sense of celebration.
As ska evolved, it underwent a transformation into rocksteady, which featured a slower tempo and more emphasis on vocals and harmony. Rocksteady, in turn, laid the groundwork for reggae as we know it today. Reggae retained some of the ska elements but added a unique blend of socially conscious lyrics and a slower, more laid-back groove.
The influence of ska on reggae is unmistakable, as many early reggae songs and artists had their roots in ska music. So, when exploring the birth of reggae, it’s essential to appreciate the significant role that ska played in shaping this iconic genre.