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REGGAE music is a form of Jamaican contemporary music and the origin of the music can be found in the mento form, a cross between African folk music with a hint on jazz, gospel and calypso. This formed in Jamaica in the early 1940’s. Reggae became ever more popular in the 1950’s due to the broadcasting on the radio; the majority of the listeners were in New Orleans.

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Reggae progressed and became more experimental with the drum and base patterns, this new style became known as Ska this all happened by 1960. Artist such as Prince Buster and the Skatalites, the tempo was soon to become steady to form the new age reggae which is generally known as reggae. The Maytals’s were the founders of reggae music with their first hit promoting the latest music style the song was called “Do The Reggay”. Jimmy cliff became the first international star of reggae only because of his role in the film the harder they fall which was shown in 1972.

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Reggae eventually progressed into the traditional rock patterns where the guitar took the rhythm and frequently played on the off beat, with a bass guitar playing the melodic patterns, Bob Marley is the most well known of all the reggae stars as his music was soul influenced and was informed by ‘Rastafarianism’ which is basically religious and Caribbean beliefs combined. The music was almost always about the beliefs of the African American slaves and the rights that black people should have, some music was even written about the rights to let people smoke marijuana as a religious sacrament.

The biggest reggae band was ‘Bob Marley and the wailers’ which produced music such as “redemption song” and “rock stead easy” the music was very successful aver America with all the African American ancestors. The beliefs were not so popular and there were three know assassination attempts on Bob Marley all of which he managed to escape.

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A lot of today’s effects that are used in music such as ‘Dubbing’ (echoing and delaying parts of the music) and ‘Toasting’ (talking over the records as they are playing). These were first tried out on reggae music and have progressed along way since then.

Electronics had entered reggae by the mid 1980’s and the name changed from reggae to ‘Raggamuffin’ which was called ‘Ragga’ for short. This was all brought on by one man called ‘Wayne Smith’ who sung the song “Under Me Sleng Teng” which was a great hit and changed the cause of reggae totally.

In the late 1980’s reggae was used by non Caribbean bands such as UB40 who sang songs like “Red Red Wine”, “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” and “Jungle Love”. Red Red Wine topped the American charts in 1988 and that was really the last that was heard of reggae but the influences in modern day music can still be seen.

This concludes that reggae music has played a vital role in how the western music has formed into the music which we listen to nowadays; the music is mostly visible in Rhythm and Blues music but can be heard in rock music and pop music.

As I have already said Bob Marley was classed as the greatest reggae musician not just because of his distinctive voice but he stood up for what he believed in just like his idol who also stood up for what he believed in this idol was the great Martin Luther King Jr.

Bob Marley (Robert Nesta Marley) was born in 1945 in Rhoden Hall, St Ann, Jamaica. He started his life growing up in Jamaica where he trained to be a welder, whilst he was learning he took up singing to pass the time, he took the singing to the extents that in 1961 he started up his first harmonic group which were called “the Rudeboys” who several years later became known as the wailers. The music was a mixture of soul music and calypso music which was native to the Caribbean.

Towards the end of the 1960’s there was a great uprising in the talent of Jamaican reggae bands and soloists, this was a blend of Rock and Roll, Rhythm and Blues, Soul and Jamaican Folk Rhythm. The turning point in Bob Marley’s life was in 1967 when he decided to convert from Christianity to Rastafarianism, in the next ten years he recorded four songs, and these were: Catch a Fire (1972), Burnin’ (1973), Natty Dread (1975), and Live (1975).

Bob Marley became a major player in politics in 1976, his views towards politics were that black people should be heard and have their say, he wanted to be like his idol Martin Luther Kin Jr. In December Bob Marley was shot in an assassination attempt which had failed but he had to cancel the free entry concert which was going to take place in Kingston. He soon recovered and went played another vital role in politics and created a public truce between rival party members Michael Manley and Edward Seaga.

Before the shooting incident he had started his European tour which took him to the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands and West Germany. After the tour had ended he went over to the United States of America and had an American tour which was called “Rastaman Vibrations” the tour was his most successful and this encouraged him to bring out more songs such as: Exodus (1977), Babylon by Bus (1978), Kaya (1978), Uprising (1980), and reissues of earlier work. There were two more assassination attempts but Marley managed to escape being killed and after this struggle he died of cancer in 1981. Eric Clapton took on the role of transforming reggae music into modern day music such as rock and rhythm and blues.

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Kylie Garcia

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