"Does white reggae sound right to you? I hear 'Police and thieves', you know. Them Clash. And I hear some more y'know. Some I like, some...ahh... depends on the feeling. Reggae music is a feeling, but reggae is not the first time that feeling come onto the earth. That feeling is always there with the people, black and white. Even with ordinary people who no deal with making no music. If they hum something, it's reggae they hum without even knowing. It's the same feeling like all the blues and folk come from."
- Bob Marley, September 1980. (McCann p.33)
Reggae is certainly not the only style of music exported from Jamaica. The Island's spirit is also felt in the upbeat grooves of Ska music. Reggae and Ska developed simultaneously in Jamaica during the late 1950's and early 1960's. Whereas reggae is more heavily influenced by rural Jamaican and Rastafarian culture, Ska became strongly identified with urban working class Jamaica. It was urban dance music. Ska music traveled from Jamaica to Great Britain in the early 1960's and was embraced by the emerging "Mod" scene that was raging in working class England. Ska music is played at a much quicker tempo than reggae, and it's frenetic, high energy dance feel was readily incorporated into the music that would emerge from Great Britain in the years that followed. Just as reggae was heavily influenced by American R&B, Ska was heavily influential on British underground culture.Rock steady, Punk, and even modern techno styles have an element of Ska at their core.
Try the pattern below. This feel is very common in Ska music. As you can hear, the tempo is much faster than the previous reggae examples. Notice, however, that "upbeats" are still essential.