The Musical Genre Of Reggae

900 WordsApr 14, 20164 Pages
The musical genre, reggae, was originally coined in the 1960s. Derived from rege-rege – Jamaican for “rags or ragged clothing” – the genre was used to describe the raggedy music style found in Jamaica at the time. Reggae incorporates the traditional Jamaican music such as mento and ska, rhythm & blues, and rocksteady. Ska characteristics such as the walking bass line of the guitar and piano off-beats are used in reggae. However, ska is much faster than reggae, so the use of rocksteady in the genre slows the ska tempo. Reggae songs are heavily backbeated, meaning the music has highly emphasized second and fourth beats; this style is typically found in African-based musical genres. In reggae’s foundation, artists typically wrote of love, but the seventies foresaw the use of socio-political and religious lyrics. To English listeners, reggae lyrics are nearly incomprehensible. For example, “Jah” means God, and “Ganga” is the Jamaican slang term for marijuana, a medical herb Rastafarians smoked to feel closer to God. Since those not of this faith do not understand the importance of marijuana, reggae lyrics often get misinterpreted as “getting high.” Never the less, reggae music first rose to international acclaim in the 1970s following the release of the movie, The Harder They Came, a story of a young man traveling through urban Jamaica. The movie’s soundtrack was comprised entirely of reggae music, skyrocketing the genre into the mainstream. Despite the movie’s success in
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