In 1973, a band as heavy as Led Zeppelin suddenly released a song called "D'yer Mak'er" on the album Houses Of The Holy that sounded like no other, making some fans feel uncomfortable. And in 1974, Eric Clapton created a hit that revived his career with the super hit I Shot The Sheriff with a bluesy melody but a very different rhythm.
And in 1979, when The Police released their second album, Reggatta de Blanc, the beats on tracks like "Reggatta de Blanc", "Bring on the Night", or "Walking on the Moon" immediately raised their hands. Stewart Copeland drums became a musical phenomenon with unprecedented innovation and it didn't take long for Copeland to become a drum player.
Of course I don't mean to take anything away from Copeland (Modern Drummer Hall Of Fame, Classic Drummer Hall Of Fame, and Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame), but to be fair, at the time, he “borrowed" something that not many people "knew" about the music of The Police: reggae music.
At that time, the Westerners thought they knew all about music. But it turned out that it was not the case. Suddenly one day they were fascinated by a strange music flow between the countless Rock, Blues, R&B, Jazz music from a third world island. That strange music was first played by people from Jamaica with the name The Wailers during the early 70s, but it was not until they were noticed by Island Records that reggae reached the public around the world.
And The Police in the late '70s suddenly became the best experimental band to compete with the progressive big boys of the '70s. By the way, The Wailers' Catch A Fire album originally became the inspiration for Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er". Eric Clapton's "I Shot The Sheriff" was a cover of The Wailers themselves.
Just before that, in 1960s Jamaica, and more specifically in the town of Kingston, working classes created their own style of R&B music by deliberately creating "hits" in the wrong music compared to rhythm. The lyrics were used to describe the suffering, poverty, violence and discrimination in this country.
That music gradually developed into the name Reggae and the band The Wailers and leader Bob Marley were the most typical representatives.
Those who were not strong enough would be knocked down by society. And Bob Marley found his purpose in life, which was music.
Initially, The Wailers, consisting of Bob Marley, along with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, planned to form a group singing Ska, a Jamaican folk music genre whose vocals were based on thick bass lines mixed with inverted clattering beats. Since the participation of the Barrett brothers: Carlton on drums and Aston on bass, The Wailers have really had the opportunity to focus on developing reggae music.
Although Ska music was very easy to get into people's hearts, thanked to the skillful combination of folk singing from Africa with white instruments, this music was still very "pure" without the narrative and mood depth of the Blues which was invented by African-Americans trapped in slavery in America. The people of African descent who were lucky to escape to the South to found the nation of Jamaica, now perhaps needed a music that was more "sympathetic" to their poverty-stricken lives. The Wailers delivered on that music, by playing slower than Ska, heavier on the beat, and especially with much deeper lyrics.
The Wailers became a monument in the small country of Jamaica very early on, but it was not until it reached Chris Blackwell who was the owner of the Island record label and grew up in Jamaica, that The Wailers had opportunity to go out into the world. Despite the disapproval of the label people when seeing The Wailers as rebellious, rude and foul-mouthed, Blackwell welcomed Bob Marley and his teammates with open arms. Even so, things were not easy with Catch A Fire (1973), which was ignored by international music audiences despite being praised by critics for its breakthrough.
The reason was because of the great "differences" of Reggae music at that time.
The differences were far from the popular music we all know like rock, funk, soul, reggae music breaks all the "traditional" rules in music, especially in rhythm.
In reggae music, the most basic part or the backbone of the song was the drum part. One of the recognizable things about reggae music was the somewhat sexy rhythm of Jamaican music, not to mention the "one drop" technique, borrowed from the name of the song One Drop itself.
In a song with 4/4 time (tempo: 1, 2, 3, 4), if in rock, blues, etc .. marked the beginning of each bar, making it easy for artists and singers to enter the beat. Therefore, the drummer would hit the kick drum the hardest on beat 1.
In the "one drop" beat, the Jamaicans omitted the strong beat and left this beat alone, without the kick drum. Instead of that, the kick drum (and sometimes less than the percussion next to the snare) will hit a 3rd beat in the middle of the staff, which can be confusing for beginners. In this style, all attention is directed to beats 2, 3, and 4, making reggae music sound sluggish and suddenly sexier.
In addition to the "one drop" technique that is very common in reggae music, there are two other rhythms called "rockers", which are played quite like "one drop" where the kick drum is sometimes hit in the first beat. And the emphasis is stronger or “steppers” when the kick drum hits all four beats but with a certain delay, a bit like the backbeat in rock & roll. It is the "delay" in the drum beat of reggae that creates a feeling of "chill" and relaxation even though the beat is not relaxing at all.
"Exodus" with "Steppers" tempo
In addition, drummers have to be creative with inversions (deviated from the beat of the song). So if you listen carefully, not all staves are the same. In order to play reggae drums, the player must be able to keep the beat very firmly due to the "uncomfortable" variation. And it is nothing but talented. However, it is perhaps the most unnoticed drummer on earth, Carlton Barrett of The Wailers, who single-handedly created the entire beat system for reggae music.
Conversely, the next most important instrument is the bass. Originally from ska music with the bass line being the most important, the bass player not only plays in a way keeping the beat with the drums, but also helps steer the song in reggae music. That's why the bass player uses both single and double notes mixed up to hit the melody and make riffs to "fill" in the blanks in the song. But it stops and keeps a steady beat when the drum has a fill.
It turns out that the remaining instrument is the guitar left idle. In contrast to rock music, the guitar in reggae music is mainly used to compensate for the balance of the bass riff. And it often hits the 4th (or 2nd) beat. In reggae music, the guitarist usually needs to play upstroke.
The "One drop" technique is modified with many triplet.
Other instruments such as percussion, piano or synthesizer are supplemented to add color to the reggae music, but the gameplay is still in the spirit of inversion. For example, the synth will hit the silence without singing. And as Marley said, in reggae music, it's not about "knowing" how to play it correctly, it's about "feeling" it.
Just see when the world understood the reggae music, Led Zeppelin was criticized for not playing well. John Bonham hit too hard, nothing chill, and Plant's singing didn't touch the hearts of people at all.
People forget that before that, every story needed a white hero to help. Like Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra, this time was more coincidental because Eric Clapton couldn't resist the charm of reggae. And Marley's music, he successfully covered "I Shot The Sheriff", bringing everyone's attention to the author. imitation of the song. Then it came to the story of Stewart Copeland aka The Police drummer.
Whatever, then the world would know Bob Marley and The Wailers. And especially the album Natty Dread (1974) was extremely successful both commercially and critically, not to mention the song "No Woman No Cry" which was popular around the world.
That was when everyone noticed The Wailers. That was when the founders of the band decided to part ways. Fortunately, the core members that created the soul of reggae music in the band were Bob Marley and the Barrett brothers: Carlton (drums) and Aston (bass) remain.
In Jamaica in the late 70s, the political tensions of the two opposing factions happened. And among the people suddenly emerged an influential figure like Bob Marley with the people of Jamaica, these politicians wanted to drag him and get him involved in these political activities. As the election approached, and the violence escalated to the point where people had to virtually avoid the streets, Bob Marley was asked to give a concert to relieve tension until the election was over.
But when only a few days before the show, a group of people approached Marley's house and shot continuously from outside. Eighty-three rounds were shot. Marley, his wife and manager were all shot. But fortunately everyone survived the ordeal. Rumor was that the person behind this shooting was from the political groups to prevent Bob Marley's influence on the people and the election.
The injury was the lightest, but Marley still had the courage to keep the show on schedule. But then he decided to leave Jamaica because he lost trust with the people who betrayed him.
From that day on, Bob Marley changed his outlook and musical style through one of his best albums, Exodus. Like the wanderer, Marley likened himself to the story of Moses rescuing the people of Israel from slavery, something he always wanted to bring about change for the people of Jamaica. This album was also mixed with sounds of blues, soul, funk and even rock, making the reggae music on this disc more varied.
Even though it was not long before, Bob Marley had reached the heart of every Jamaican people with lyrics that realistically described the poor, violent and segregated society in Jamaica. It turns out that in comparison to the traditional ska the way of playing reggae music slowly gave the feelings and abilities to empathize and listen to. It turns out that the influence of Bob Marley from the Rastafaria sect, which repeatedly called for African-Jamaicans to return to their ancestral homeland, had such a far-reaching effect on the expatriates. And as it turned out that Bob Marley's genius lied in the fact that, when the world began to listen to his music, he began to deliver his most powerful messages. Who could have imagined, a country that was just a small island in a third world with people of African descent who escaped from the slavery movement in the United States and struggled to rebuild their lives, now popularizing music and sending messages to the world.
Marley then went on to release other albums until the end of his short life. Although the dream of peace and justice for Jamaica did not come true at that time, Bob Marley was still a great monument comparable to other influential legends such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix or Marvin Gaye because of his music. reggae that he introduced to the world. Bob Marley became the first artist from the third world to be inducted into the eternal rock and roll Hall of Fame.
It is strange to say that while world music iss extremely rich with diverse harmonies, a reggae music line that sometimes only revolves around 2 or 3 chords in the song makes listeners so happy. Sometimes I think maybe the "strange" formula in reggae's erratic rhythms.
Is it possible that Bob Marley learned something extremely powerful from the Rastafarian monks through the smoke of marijuana, causing the world to turn to ban it?
Informally if Bob Marley has a combo of marijuana and reggae music, hippie brothers have LSD and psychedelic music, the Vietnamese golden music also has the right to hope to step out into the world with "national spirit".
See you again.