In this module: We will be exploring the rhythms and accents that make a ‘reggae feel’.

  • The new rhythm ‘tikka-tikka’ will be introduced.
  • Rhythms will be taught as ‘word rhythms’ (Jammin’ in Jamaica).
  • Students will create their own ‘word rhythms’.
  • Students will create and perform their own rhythm compositions.
  • Students will perform a reggae feel based on word rhythms.

Expanded background & useful links

The Style
Reggae is a style of music first developed in Jamaica in the 1960s. Important elements in this music are accent on the offbeats of the bar (known as the skank), a pronounced bass line and a slower but jauntier rhythmic feel than rock ‘n’ roll. The drum kit is often used in a quite different way, with the bass (or kick) drum playing where the snare would normally be used. The electric guitar often plays offbeat ‘chops’, sometimes referred to as ‘upstrokes’, and brass instruments often add short, melodic ‘stabs’. Another feature commonly used is the ‘wah wah’ pedal, used with the guitar to alter the tone of the instrument.

The songs
The lyrics in reggae songs are sometimes love songs, sometimes religious and sometimes address social issues or topical themes.

The origin
The word ‘reggae’ itself may have come from ‘streggae’ a Jamaican expression for ‘raggedy’.

Related styles
Some other related musical styles from Jamaica are ska, rocksteady and dub.

Famous artists
The most well-known reggae artist is Bob Marley. With his band The Wailers he took the music to the UK.
Other famous reggae artists include Peter Tosh (a founder member of The Wailers), Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Toots and the Maytals.

The influence
The reggae style influenced artists in the UK and the USA and resulted in hit songs such as:

  • Ob La Di Ob La Da by the Beatles (although this is more ska than reggae)
  • Hold Me Tight and I Can See Clearly by Johnny Nash
  • I Shot the Sherrif by Eric Clapton (originally a Bob Marley song)
  • Mother & Child Reunion by Paul Simon
  • Dreadlock Holiday by 10 cc

Toasting and rap
The Jamaican Deejays developed a practice of improvising rhymes live (with a mic) over reggae tracks. This became known as ‘toasting’ and, when utilised by New York DJs, led to ‘rap’ – an essential part of hip-hop culture.

Paul Jamieson
Paul is the performer on the DVD. He also co-wrote the song Get it Together with Rob, Mark and Kev. And he played all the reggae music on Music Room 6.
Find out more about Paul (and see him) here:

Some useful links

You can hear reggae music here:

You can see reggae music here: