Are you ready for a different genre of music to knock too much fun into you?
What are Tuesdays for anyway? Keep your eyes here, and fingers ready to click on the songs while taking sips of your evening tea and we are set!
You might even have heard of Ska music and maybe you just didn’t know what it is called! Fret not, as ready as ever, we’re here to introduce you to Ska.
What is Ska?
This is a Jamaican music genre that originated in the 1950s and was the forerunner to reggae. It has an easily recognizable cheerful style, characterised by bars made up of four triplets, with a definitive guitar chop on the offbeat called an upstroke or skank.
Ska music is upbeat and exciting, designed to make you sweep the dance floor. It features horns (trumpet, saxophone and trombone) that take the lead and follow the skank. Here is a whole list of Ska musicians. Maybe some might even ring a bell.
Evolution of Ska
Ska has evolved for many years and it incorporates elements of calypso music, American Jazz and R&B. The history of Ska is primarily divided into three periods:
1. Jamaican first wave Ska of early 1960s:
The First wave of Ska originated in Jamaica after its independence from Britain. The musical style was influenced by American Jazz and R&B. Following World War II, the purchase of radios increased in number and Jamaicans were able to hear rhythm and blues music from the US Army broadcasts intended for American soldiers who had been stationed nearby during the war.
Many of the original Ska artists include – Derrick Morgan, Bob Marley and the Wailers, The Skatalites, Byron Lee & the Dragonaires. Later on, Ska evolved again into reggae and many of these bands achieved worldwide fame through it.
2. Two Tone Ska of the late 1970s in Britain:
In the late 1970s in England, Two Tone music revived Ska with faster tempos and better instrumentation. This music fused Jamaican rhythms and melodies with aggressive punk rock’s guitar and lyrics. Most classic Ska songs were turned into hits again after re-mastering in the UK.
The Two Tone movement promoted racial unity in the UK as most of the Two Tone bands had multi-racial line-ups, such as The Beat and The Specials. Moreover, Madness was one of the most effective bands in bringing the Two Tone genre into the mainstream.
3. Third Wave of Ska in 1990s:
The third wave of Ska involved bands from other European countries – Germany, Australia, Japan, South America and the United States, which had missed out on the first two waves. The third wave began in the 1980s and drew influence from Two Tone bands to eventually make music which could barely be distinguished from punk.
Ska-Punk continues to flourish even today, since bands such as Operation Ivy, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Toasters, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Sublime made it mainstream.
The popularity and chirpiness led to the foundation of a large number of Ska bands, record labels and festivals throughout the whole world. In Spain, the influence is visible in punk-rock bands like Ska-P, Boikot and many others that headline Spanish rock and punk rock festivals.
In Australia, the 30 piece Melbourne Ska Orchestra have enjoyed great success in recent years, touring internationally and including sets at Glastonbury and Montreux Jazz Festival.
In Russia, AVIA and N.O.M. were among the first bands of the genre whereas bands like Spitfire, Distemper, Leningrad and Markscheider Kunst became hugely popular later.
Japan’s Ska scene is referred to as J-ska. The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, formed in 1985, have been very successful. J-ska continue to live with modern bands such as Kemuri, Life Ball, etc.
One of the most famous Latin American Ska bands is Los Fabulosos Cadillacs from Argentina. They have sold millions of records worldwide and won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock/Alternative album.
Let us know if you are happy that now, you are formally educated about Ska, the mother of your favourite reggae beats and everyone’s beloved Bob Marley.