Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ska: An Unusual Genre

By Trisha Regan

A music genre which originated from Jamaica during the late 1950s is called ska. It is a predecessor to reggae and rocksteady. This genre is a combination of the constituents of Caribbean calypso and mento with American jazz and tempo. Ska is identified by a rhythmic bass line.

During the 1960s, ska became an official music genre and became really popular with the British mod. It then became very popular among skinheads. The history of ska can be divided into three periods: the original Jamaican scene of the 1960s (First Wave), the English 2 Tone ska revival of the late 1970s (Second Wave) and the third wave ska movement, which started in the 1980s.

There are many theories regarding the origin of the word ska. It was said by Ernest Ranglin that it was coined by musicians according to the sound of a guitar strum. Another theory is that during a recording session in 1959 by Coxsone Dodd, double bassist Cluett Johnson told Ranglin "play like ska, ska, ska." The other theory is that ska originated from Johnson's "skavoovie", this was his greeting for his friends. It was insisted by Jackie Mittoo to call the rhythm Staya Staya. Then finally Byron Lee presented the word ska.

There is another story about the origin of ska, it is about Prince Buster made it during the inaugural recording for his latest label Wild Bells. The guitarist started to accentuate the second and fourth beats in the bar. The drum beat was inspired from the traditional drumming and marching styles of Jamaica.

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