The ska is a musical style rate/rhythm at two times, originating in the Jamaica, then diffused internationally. The rates/rhythms of ska are based not by the battery but by more or less fast coppers… Toots & The Maytals or Desmond Dekker & The Aces and The Skatalites was pioneers of this musical style.
Historical contextWith the beginning of the year 1950, in Jamaica 95% of Jamaïcains have African blood. The island, located at the south of Cuba, has as a capital Kingston and depends on the the United Kingdom. The life is hard there, the Blacks do not have the right to vote, violence is not rare and the religion is very present. The riots are a chronic wound, and only will bakras them, rich white established in Jamaica, have an easier life.
Musicalement, several islands of the the Antilles make dance the people on various rates/rhythms: the Dominican Merengue , the Kompa Haiti in, the Calypso of Trinidad very in vogue, the Its Cuban, the Zouk inhabitant of Guadeloupe… The local folklore, the Mento jamaïcain, as for him, is composed of European influences, Bantou be and West African. Rate/rhythm 4/4 is soft, contrary to Calypso plus rate/rhythm with its time 2/2. Calypso is especially played for the tourists. The local musicians also play of the Slack , bawdy songs which make laugh the public to forget lasts it life.
Those which have a radio can collect the waves of Wins, the American radio of Miami, the only one which arrives to Jamaica; one passes there mainly from the Rhythm' Blues (" R&B") and of the Jazz; these musics already broke on the island with the discs which brought the American soldiers based to Kingston during the Second world war.
The jazzmen black American then represented a glimmer of hope for Jamaïcains of the ghettos which started to play every evening, in the open air in the parks of Kingston, the songs which they tried to reproduce, frays inevitably at the rates/rhythms that they could already play (mento, Calypso, merengue…). A new sound takes the form, with low more powerful and a rate/rhythm of guitar syncopated and more rapid, like a first impression of the ska : the Shuffle .
In 1950, the discs 45 turns out of vinyl and the sound systems appear, giving birth to from the Sound system S in which one can dance at low prices a little everywhere in the island. Competition becomes wild: the Selecter S are obliged to remove the labels of their discs to be the only ones to have them. One year later, Stanley Motta carries out the first recordings to compete with Calypso, but the island awaits a new sound, more connected and more dancing that the American R&B
Fortunately, the beachcomber rock'n'roll roll falls down on the island with in particular Fats Domino and Little Richard; this new style mixed with the Boogie-woogie, with the Gospel, very present in the island, with the Mento local, the Jazz, the Scat, the Calypso, the Merengue, the musics African and cuban as with the culture of the street will form a clashing cocktail which, while exploding, gives rise to the sound that all Jamaïcains waited: the ska . Success is with go: the sounds systems multiply in the island, people is had a presentiment of to come to dance on this endiablé rate/rhythm.
In 1955, Duke Vin creates the first sound system jamaïcain with London, city where emigrants tributary in the search of work. In 1959, Chris Blackwell records Dubplate S which it tests in the Sound system S before making press those which went well. The Juke-box be spread themselves, helping in that with the diffusion of the music. It is the birth of music industry jamaïcaine. In 40 years, the island will produce more than 100.000 discs, with sometimes more than 200 individual per week! The music being the best means to leave itself misery, it is necessary to produce, always to produce, because the recordings are not paid goods and the producers not always honest. It is thus necessary to play as much as possible to earn its living, from where this extraordinary production.
1960: First steps of the ska
With the wire of time, the syncope of the boogy based on the Contretemps is accentuated at the point to become the key period of the rate/rhythm. The ska is released little by little from the various styles, characterized by this syncopated rate/rhythm marked by one key period over the second and the fourth time of measurement. The play of guitar corresponds to the hitch of the R&B and the piano of the boogy. Coppers are added for the solos of jazz, as well as a double bass very ahead, as for the merengue, Calypso and the mento. Often, the played pieces are instrumental, frantic and constant. In 1960, the ska is distinguished and become a kind with whole share. As, some affirm as the word “ ska ” was born from the sound which produces the dry way to plate of the agreements on the guitar, others affirm that this word is the variation of the word " skavoovee" , shouted by a pianist who took part in the emergence of the kind.
Prince Buster , deciding to dissociate sounds specialized in the R&B, prefers to accentuate the purely Jamaican identity of its music, just like Coxsone . In 1961, successes, the soundsystems and the producers multiply, much delocalize themselves with the the United Kingdom. One year later, Chris Blackwell with the idea to distribute discs to it, where the emigrants can allow themselves to buy some.
It is independence not only territorial, but so musical, because the ska now incarnates the identity of the new nation which does not cease dancing at the rate/rhythm of coppers, the hope and optimism are found. Coxsone builds a studio of independent recording which will become mythical the Studio One . Of 1962 with 1967, the British mark Blue Beat of Emile Shalett publishes 600 45 turns produced in Jamaica by Prince Buster: the ska will be often associated, in the United Kingdom, with the happy name “ blue ”, which thus indicates a mark and not this music. The discs are generally in a hurry in the American factories “Federal Records”.
In 1964, it is the explosion with the international first hit “ My Boy Lolipop ” of Millie Small on the label Island Records of Blackwell. Decisive turn also, formation of the Skatalites; will follow of tens of resumptions of old songs R&B version ska. The machine ska from now on is launched and devastates all on its passage. The Hard servant boys , young Jamaican hooligans of the ghettos fallen into the delinquency and sowing terror, adopt a new characteristic look: military lattices, pants legs of éph, Tee-shirts faded, long badges, hair… In 1965, Duke Reid assembles its studio of recording; Martin Luther King, pacifist Pasteur, is accommodated with Kingston in large pump, which gives again hope with the inhabitants, but does not prevent misery and violence to increase. The musicians often call, in their lyrics, hard the servant boys to be calmed and to assagir themselves while stopping sowing terror with all the corners of street. The music becomes the only means of leaving itself the ghetto. This violence and this aggressiveness feel in the increasingly frantic rate/rhythm of the ska, which becomes again suddenly very slow, thus announcing the first steps of the Rocksteady . It is told that the rate/rhythm started to slow down because of the heatwaves of the summer 1964, the dancers not being able more to support the frantic rate of this music.
1964-1968: The transition Rocksteady
The ska is supplanted little by little by the Rocksteady, until the latter is regarded starting from 1966 as the drunk person local. Prince Buster multiplies the traditional ones, in particular a duet with Lee '' Scratch '' Perry , Judge Dread (a British musician, Alex Hughes, will borrow its name, and will sing “ I love you me either ”, of Gainsbourg). In the United Kingdom, Chris Blackwell founds the recording company Trojan, specialized in music jamaïcaine.
Beyond its rate/rhythm slower than the ska, the rocksteady offers more keyboard and more song, but less coppers and the instrumental ones. The double bass is often replaced by the low electric one. This time, key period marked over the third time. One finds especially trios of rocksteady singing love songs. The singer is well proposed, the musician is confined in the studios and the producer supervises very A to Z.
See also: Reggae
In 1968, while the dancehalls vibrate with the sound of the rocksteady , Desmond Dekker sings its “ Israelites ” on a rate/rhythm innovating, faster than the rocksteady, the Reggae . Several other artists assert the title of first Reggae : Stranger Sticks and Lester Sterling, Larry and Alvin, Bob Marley, the Beltones, The Maytals, Lee “Scratch” Perry…
Of 1968 with 1970, the Reggae is described as “ early reggae ”, is prevailed by the low one and is exploited a faster tempo, are owed with the influences of the local mento still very rate/rhythm. For an eighth note played in rocksteady, a musician reggae plays two of them. For the anecdote, the reggae was called at its beginnings the “ streggae ”, which designated a woman of easy virtue, who is offered to all the men. This title appeared too pejorative with the taste of the radios of the time, and the streggae became the reggae; the slack always present points out all the same this side machist of the music jamaïcaine.
In Jamaica, as at the end of the years 1950, the people claim musical innovations and innovations. The artists then remixent the pieces intended for the dancehalls, it acts of the Dub (dub = to copy), new dimension of the music jamaïcaine. The purely instrumental versions are engraved opposite B the 45 turns; echo effects (reverb) are added on the voices. Into live, the DJ do not hesitate to take the microphone to be let go to their is delirious musical: they toastent .
In the United Kingdom of the years 1970, in particular thanks to the Trojan label which then publishes the major part of the discs of reggae, the skinheads , young people of the working suburbs of London, raffolent particularly of this new rate/rhythm. From there will be born the skinhead reggae . The skins all are far from being of the rough néo-Nazis as the major part of people think it today: they cohabit peacefully with their cousins the Rude servant boys black immigrants of Jamaica and share their ideas and their lifestyle. But the political tensions of the moment and the explosion of the National Face will convince some to disavow their friendship to join the opposing side. Those start to attack immigrants Pakistani, behavior called the “ Paki bashing ” (Pakistani lynching). It is the beginning of a long racial hate, from which will be born the movement S.H.A.R.P (SkinHead Against Racial Damage = Skinheads against the racial prejudices), combined vague 2-ton. The skinheads apolitized, (“ head of skin ” because of their shaven cranium), tired to be confused with their new enemies, decide to call them the “ Bonehead S ” (head of bone). In fact still today the boneheads prevail in the stages of foot: the skinheads are generally regarded wrongly as néo-Nazis. For an uninitiated person, it is simple means of knowing if a skinhead is apolitical, SHARP, red or Nazi: the badges which it will inevitably carry on the reverse of its Bomberjacket.
The skinheads are recognizable with their look: shaven head, Doc. Martens with the feet, often of the straps holding their pants. They have like emblematic music the ska, the rocksteady and the reggae, if possible with fast tempos on which they dance until exhaustion in the concerts. In 1971, they start to ignore a little this music whose tempo slows down with the arrival of the sets of themes Rasta S in the pieces.
The following year, 1972, appears decisive for Jamaica;
The dub is refined by separating the basic tracks, of battery, voice and other instruments, by carrying out more creative mixings and also more complex, announcing the fatal arrival of the music technoïde a few years later.
It is as into 1972 as the reggae enters its third phase of evolution: after the early reggae and the one-drop, a new rate/rhythm appears, with the tempo even slower than during the second phase, but faster than the rocksteady, with low which is weighed down even more. It is the modern reggae which will interest more and more the first groups Punk of the United Kingdom, in particular the Clash starting from 1976, which will often mingle it with their repertory.
In parallel, the country must box two new hard blows: the dollar crumbles, the intellectual elite is exiled with the the United States leaving the island without capital, violences due to the similar elections multiply. The messages conveyed by the music then reflect well a strong hope to leave omnipresent misery and oppression.
In 1974, following the wave of emigration in the United States, the strong community of Jamaïcains installed in Brooklyn introduce the culture of the dancehalls. Frays with the local Funk, the dub gives a mixture quickly resembling the rap and the Hip-hop.
Two years later, in 1976, Bob Marley become a superstar with its Wailers, after years of galères and a collaboration with Blackwell on the Island label in 1974, which made known it general public. Jamaïcains forsake the DJ, preferring their new idol. It is the golden age of the reggae, as well in terms of quality as of quantity and innovation. Great innovation, the reggae up to that point very machist feminizes and introduces also subjects like Africa. The music jamaïcaine is exported then in the whole world.
The Eighties: The United Kingdom godfather of the ska
The years 1960 which gave birth to ska Jamaïcain refilent the baby in the United Kingdom of the years 1980 when all is played from now on. In 1979, the ska returns to the last style thanks to the founder of Specials Jerry Dammers and its British label Two-Ton (with the heads of file The Specials , Madness, The Beat, The Selecter, Bad Manners…) who puts his logo at the mode in the small world of the ska, and soon in the whole world: the black and white checkerwork, symbol of unit enters the blacks and the white. Symbol also of a desire to put an end to the racial hate which reigns since years in the country. The groups of musicians ethniquement mixed try to preach the racial unit in the United Kingdom torn with more engaged words, but cannot prevent the riots of 1981, because of the difficulties of the ghettos, the fascistic attacks, unemployment, police controls, the racial riots, the national front with its apogee, etc Bref, a country in deep crisis.
In 1981 always, another shock: Marley dies the May 11th. The British White will hasten to also play them of the reggae, like UB40, Boy George and Culture Happy… what is not with the taste of Chris Blackwell which takes it as a lack of respect with fire Bob. It gives up the crenel of the music jamaïcaine. The African continent is put at the reggae, with like precursor Alpha Blondy. In 1985, the rhythmic numerical ones invade the sound reggae and transfer ragga. The dub tinted numerical influence to the extreme of many artists, which inevitably produces house music, techno. The jungle will appear even in 1994, played by descendants jamaïcains which accelerate the rate/rhythm of the reggae by adding numerical sounds and other elements to him.
The label Two-Ton, repurchased by Chrysalis Records, crumbles in 1985, which does not prevent with the checkerwork from remaining the symbol of the ska throughout the world. After the tidal wave 2-ton , Gaz Mayall starts again the ska in 1986 with 4 labels: Gas Records, Ska records, Skank and Unicord, with groups such as the Deltones, Potato 5, The Trojans (the group of Gas Mayall). The concerts and the festivals of ska multiply, it is the crucial time of the ska revival which will last until 1991. In 1989, it is the explosion of the revival with three large distinct currents: the German current, one of the most productive scenes currently, with groups like The Busters, Skaos, Dr. Ring Ding… A mixture of revival and two-ton at the very constant rate/rhythm and very rapid, with 4 or 5 coppers by group. Comes then the American current, with groups always present like the Toasters, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Bim Skala Bim, Voodoo Glow Skulls… a scene fusion, characterized by a clashing mixture of 2-ton, hardcore, funk and punk, which often gives a punk Ska pêchu. Lastly, the international current which wishes to remain close to the jamaïcaines roots years 1960: the Trojans, Skaville Train, 100 Mens… and which will take more importance in 1995.
It is the ska revival which definitively installs the ska in musical manners.
Note: Ska Revival is also called Third-Wave Ska (In French, the Third Vagueness of Ska ).
Some major groups or artists
(see also the List of groups of ska)
the third wave, the years 1990-2000:
- The Busters : group German
- Dr. Ring Ding: group German
- Dr. Woogle and the radio: group German
- The Frits: group German
- No Sports: group German
- Skaos: group German
- Messer Banzani: group German
- El Bosso a die ping pong: group German
- Spitfire: group Russian
- St petersburg ska jazz review: group Russian
- Sublime: group American
- New York Ska Jazz together: group American
- The Slackers: group American
- Mustard Plug: group American
- The Toasters: group American
- Mighty Mighty Bosstones: group American
- Less Than Jake: group American
- Deal' S gone bad: group American
- The Pietasters: group American
- The Stingers atx: group American
- The Scofflaws: group American
- Bim skala bim: group American
- Big D and The Kids Table: group American
- Hepcat: group American
- Go Jimmy Go: group American
- Mad Caddies: group American
- Reel big fish: group American
- Buck O nine: group American
- Lo and the magnetics: group Canadian
- The Kingpins: group Canadian
- The Barrymores: group Canadian
- Roller Starter: group Canadian
- 2 Stone 2 Skank: group Canadian
- The Kingpins: group Canadian
- Alaska: Canadian
- Spleen groups!?: group Canadian
- Skalcooliques: group Canadian
- General Rudie: group Canadian
- Subb: group Canadian
- Ska-P: group Spanish
- Los Locos: group Spanish
- Skalariak: group Basque
- Starlites: group Spanish
- The Peeping toms: group Spanish
- Ruda: group French
- Two Tone Club: group French
- Skaferlatine: group French
- PO Box: group French
- Skarface: group French
- Babylon Circus: group French
- Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra: group Japanese
- Doberman: group Japanese
- The Ska flames: group Japanese
- Kemuri: group Japanese
- ARTS: group Japanese
- Potshot: group Japanese
- The Rollings: group Japanese
- Dallax: group Japanese
- Wraygunn: group Portuguese
- King Chango: South American group (Latin Ska)
- Hard and To screw: group Dutch
- Rotterdam ska jazz foundation: group Dutch
- Mark Foggo skasters: group Dutch
- Roy Paci & Aretuska: group Italian
- Pannonia allstars ska orchestrated: group Hungarian
- Moon invaders: group Belgian
- Big 8
- Crash Discs
- Esan Osenki
- Gridalo Forte
- Mad butcher
- Moon Ska
- Patate Records
- Small Centers
- Stomp Records
- Trojan Records
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