Reggae Recipe

Like most popular music of the western world, Reggae is played in 4/4 time – 4 beats to a bar of 4. The strongly felt beats, or downbeats, are beats 2 & 4, opposite to most pop music. Some claim that this has made Reggae’s acceptance difficult in North America!

Credit is given to Winston Grennan, “Master Drummer Of Jamaica”, the true originator of the “one-drop” reggae rhythm. The One Drop style is defined by the drumming pattern. With the expectation of the bass drum hitting on beats 1 & 3, the “one” is “drop”ped. There’s much more to it though. The snare may emphasize the 3rd beat. The bass may emphasize beat 1 with a strong note, but also often misses the first beat too. The high hat may emphasize the 1st beat. By this definition, Ska must be considered the original “one drop” rhythm.

Rockers is a style of Reggae beat that originated in the mid-1970s. Unlike the earlier “one drop” style which has the bass drum play on the 3rd beat of every measure, in a rockers beat the bass drum plays on all four beats of the measure, like the bass drum in a disco beat. In fact, this beat probably influenced the sound of disco music.

The term Rockers came to be a generic term for 1970s reggae, partly due to the emphatic nature of the term.

By 1970 the early, jumpy Reggae was replaced by slower rhythms that better suited the lyrics that were surfacing – lyrics of oppression and sufferation.

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