A lot of people misconstrue reggae as an umbrella term for all Jamaican music, but it refers to one distinct type of music. Reggae draws its influence from styles such as jazz, calypso, R&B, mento, and even Latin American music, but more importantly, ska and rocksteady. It is a genre that is heavily associated with the Rastafarian movement, which was at its peak during the 1930s. Since then, reggae music has been used by Jamaicans as a medium of expression not just about their history and culture but also about the exploitation and marginalization that they faced at the hands of a vastly unfair political system. Even today, you will find reggae music with lyrics that talk about the many social, political as well as social-economic issues plaguing the world.
In terms of rhythm, reggae is slow, relaxed, and more off-beat than popular genres such as pop and disco. But it makes use of common musical instruments that are used in these other genres, but in its own unique way. Here are some of the instruments that are used in reggae music:
When you listen to reggae music, you will realize that bass plays an important role in it. It is usually played alongside drums and is used to provide the song with its rhythm, or “riddim” as it is traditionally called. In reggae, the bass is normally a simple riff but sometimes it can be heavier and more pronounced.
Drums are an integral part of reggae music, but the way each piece is played is quite distinct and specific. Drummers usually tune their snare drum to a high pitch so that its sound resembles timbales. They also hit the rim and the head simultaneously, which is known as the cross-stick technique. Apart from traditional drums, musicians also use bongos, claves, shakers as well as cowbells.
While you will rarely find a piano being played on its own in reggae music, it is quite often used as an accompaniment to the guitar to increase the rhythm. However, in the 1970s and 80s, they began to get replaced by modern synthesizers.
There are various types of horn instruments that are used in reggae, but trumpets, trombones, and saxophones are the most common among them. They are played in the same pattern, but one may be played in a slightly higher octave than the others or in a different key. Musicians commonly use horns for solos, introductions as well as instrumental breaks.
In reggae, the guitar is played with quick and sharp plucking of the strings, producing short yet soothing, relaxing sounds. It is used to produce high-frequency sounds, which are achieved by strumming the chords upwards from the string with the highest pitch to the one with the lowest.
Experience the soulful beats of Reggae with the original music by Rege Lark, an international music composer. You might know him as the “Ganja Party” composer as it is one of his most popular numbers. He is also the composer of “Have Caution”, which is a song that is marked by its relaxing music and memorable lyrics. If you wish to learn more about the artist and his compositions, make sure you check out www.regelark.com.