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Reggae & Ska: Life On The Upbeat

WholeNote Staff (593) · [archive]
Style: Reggae · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 80
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

"I don't see reggae music as like 'The Twist'. I see reggae music as music. When people say 'reggae' they expect a type of music. As far as me concerned I never give it a name. I just play music. Once you put it in a bag and call it reggae and then maybe you listen and think you hear a single thing. Because music wide, music goes everywhere."
- Bob Marley, July, 1975. (Bob Marley: In His Own Words. Ian McCann.1993. Omnibus Press. p.27-28)

In a world of categories and pigeon holes it's easy to forget that not everything, especially art, can be grouped together under a single name and have that name mean anything. Reggae, like most popular/ folk music, is a composite of many different styles and emotions. Reggae is urban and Reggae is rural. It is political and it is personal. It's roots and it it's dance hall. Reggae is life music... Reggae is often "defined" as A style of popular Jamaican music. That is partially true. But it is so much more. Reggae is a synthesis of Jamaican folk music and American rhythm and blues washed in the issues of the day. It lives within the heart and the world that surrounds it. This lesson is a stereotype of reggae guitar and its derivative styles. In order to learn what this music is truly about you must listen to the artists who create it and the world in which you live. We will explore some basic reggae guitar styles and hopefully gain a closer view into the heart of reggae music. With that said, let's look at some of the guitar mechanics that drive this soulful expression.

First, let's look at a four measure pattern that uses A minor chords to drive the upbeat. This rhythmic pattern is very common in reggae music. By "upbeat" I mean the "and" of a 4/4 count. For example, one, AND, two, AND, three, AND, four, AND. Take a listen and play along. All of these chord hits are on the "upbeat". I've included two different ways to play the A minor chord. These different fingerings of a chord are called "voicings". Try both and see what feels most comfortable to you. Either voicing will work well.
A minor
A minor
Reggae & Ska: Life On The Upbeat
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