Saturday, November 22, 2008

Where Ska music comes from

Already months ago a friend of mine invited me to a concert of The Slackers. I had no clue of course what kind of band or music this was, but this friend always takes me to concerts and it always proves good value.

“This is brilliant music! One that's definately in my top-ten list,” he assured me. “No way, you’re going to the Slackers?!” Another friend screamed through the phone just before the concert. “They’re one of the best ska bands I know!” This sounds promising, doesn’t it?

And so it was. Ska usually isn't my kind of music, but this band had a good mixture of mellow and up-tempo ska. The sound was excellent since I could hear all the instruments playing, understand the lyrics and the rambling in between. It’s incredible how someone can talk for three minutes with empty words. But the music fulfilled the expectations raised earlier by my friends. It’s that band where young (a ten-year-old) and old (guess seventy five) come together and enjoy it as being one.

While trumpets, trombone and harmonica were blowing through the hall, I recognised more than just some romtidledom in these cheerful tunes. Some roots-reggae and even Frank Sinatra were present. These guys are good! It made me wonder: where does this music come from? So I asked my friend. “No, ska was before reggae, it’s the reggae that came forth from ska. Not otherwise.” He denied the Sinatra-sound, at first. But five minutes later he turned to me and said that indeed this music had the snappy brass band sound from the fifties. “But it must be from around the same period!”

I couldn’t tell and therefore it's worthy to do some investigation. So, after some internet research (I’m sorry, I study in a huge library and didn’t take some books at hand for this) I’m capable of giving a reasonable answer. Ska and reggae go hand in hand. My good friend was right though about reggae sprouting from ska music. It originates from Jamaica and up until ’66 the beats of ska didn't slow down. Influences from soul music from the US, mystic believes from Rastafarism and an extremely hot summer made the ska beats lower its pace and reggae was created.

And even the brass band was mentioned. European soldiers and sailors brought in this type of music. The Jamaican, with their good ears for music, started to use the musical instruments and rhythms so well known from brass music. So no actual Sinatra influences, but definitely the reverberation.

That's two thumbs up. One for the music and one for the good choice.


For those who are interested in more background, have a look at this site. It’s written with a good flow and to the point. Wikipedia tells a bit more about the construction of the music.


Slackers in action. Thanks to rodrigorichter

2 comments:

Ertan said...

a brief history of ska

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AesId12OKsY

I love the 2tone style of ska.. Madness are kings of this style.

Tara said...

I love the rytme, the influence of American jazz, the mixture of different kind of music, and the funky and speedy atmosphere of a ska concert...)