Reggae Dance is a high pace upbeat dance style that is performed with reggae music. The music later known as “reggae dance” began making its appearance in the 1960s in Jamaica. This type of music was primarily influenced by rhythm and blues music in New Orleans.
The song “Long Shot,” which was produced by Lee Perry and recorded by the Pioneers, is labeled as the first recorded reggae song, although at the time it was released, that type of music didn’t actually have a name yet. Music producers played a major role in the history of reggae dance. Chris Blackwell founded Island Records in 1960, and then moved to England where he promoted reggae in the United Kingdom. Island Records joined with Trojan Records in 1968, and they continued to produce and promote reggae until 1974 when the label was bought out.
Tempo Is Key!
Reggae can be identified by its tempo, which is slower than ska and rock steady, and based on rhythms that utilize offbeat accents, typically on the second and fourth beat. Reggae generally is played in 4/4 time, and is harmonically simple with sometimes as few as one or two chords in the whole song.
Primarily, reggae utilizes drums and other types of percussion, bass and guitars, keyboards, horns, and vocals to create the island beat for which it is known. Reggae can be identified by its tempo, which is slower than ska and rock steady, and based on rhythms that utilize offbeat accents, typically on the second and fourth beat.
Story Behind Reggae Music
“Reggae” comes from the term “rege-rege” which means “rags” or “ragged clothes”, and this gives you your first clue into the story behind reggae music. When it started out in Jamaica around the late 1960s, reggae music was considered a rag-tag, hodge-podge of other musical styles, namely Jamaican Mento and contemporary Jamaican Ska music, along with American jazz and rhythm & blues, something like what was coming out of New Orleans at the time.
Most listeners didn’t even distinguish reggae from Jamaican dancehall music or the slowed down version of ska music known as Rocksteady, until possibly when the band Toots and the Maytals came along. There songs served as a sort of public notice that a new style of music had been born and was staking its claim on the musical frontier.
Besides its sound, reggae music is frequently associated with the common themes in its lyrics. The earliest reggae lyrics spoke mostly of love, specifically romantic love between a man and a woman. But as the music and the musicians making it made their way into the 1970s, reggae started taking on a heavy Rastafarian influence. Now the love being sung about was not just romantic love, but cosmic, spiritual love, the love of one’s fellow man, and of God, or “Jah”.
And, when reggae singers weren’t singing about love, they were singing about rebellion and revolution against the forces impeding that love. That includes the extreme violence, poverty, racism, and government oppression they were witnessing or experiencing on a regular basis.