On One-drop

This unique drumbeat can be found in all genres of post-1960 Jamaican popular music, but, when used in this relatively slow and relaxed style of reggae, it provides a significant challenge to performers unfamiliar with Jamaican popular music. During my first attempts to play over this drumbeat, there was a constant urge to count the third-beat emphasis of the kick drum and side-stick as the first beat of the measure. The absence of the rhythmic anchor, normally provided by the kick drum on the first beat of the measure in most European and North American rock/pop music, was initially disconcerting. Although the one-drop employs the hi-hat, to maintain the motion of the beat during the course of the measure, it is often performed with rubato, forcing the other rhythm section players to establish a timing reference from a rhythmic cycle that can be measured in bars. The unique nature of this drumbeat demands that the performers in the rhythm section collectively share the responsibility of establishing and maintaining rhythmic motion and stability. It is in this context that the challenge of playing competent reggae guitar becomes most evident.

Found in: Jamaican Rhythmic Perception, from:
Ray Hitchins (2013) Rhythm, Sound and Movement: The Guitarist as
Participant-Observer in Jamaica’s Studio Culture, Ethnomusicology Forum.

Onomatopoeia as the beginning of music

Each shaman melody is the tune of the shaman helper-spirit, who has an animal-like form. That is why the onomatopoeic sounds play the important role in the musical composition of shaman rituals – the sounds of voices of a reindeer, a swan, a goose, a loom, a bear, a wolf are available to hear on recordings” .

Onomatopoeia is actually the beginning of music, the first appearance of the musical ability of man. According to ethno-musicologists, in this fashion, the songs of shamans retain memories from the times of the original emergence of music.
An important characteristic of healing shaman music is that the helping spirits of the individual shamans themselves each have their own distinguishing tune, sometimes more than one, and this is the case in distant South America as well as in Eurasia.
Thus it is barely surprising that the power of the individual shamans was measured by the number of songs they knew. In other words, the shaman’s power was in his songs and the power of the instruments was only an additional force.

Found in: On Shamanic Origin of Healing and Music, from SHAMANS AND SYMBOLS
PREHISTORY OF SEMIOTICS IN ROCK ART by Mihály Hoppál.
International Society for Shamanistic Research. Budapest. 2013.
Art source: Shamanic Drumming

ON GHETTO NYABINGHI

fIt was in the late 1930s that the Rastafarians began to gain a significant presence in Kingston, and by this time the pre-Rasta Burru peoples (a culture of people in rural Jamaica who were known for their drumming rituals a century ago) had fully settled in the slums. Unlike the scenario in America, drumming in the Jamaican plantation system was officially tolerated, and the Burru-men, in addition to their role as timekeepers for slave labor, were keepers of African sound. In their search for “anciency” and cultural roots, the Rastafari knelt at the feet of the Burrus, appropriated their looks, style, and musics and, in return, imparted to them a political theology of race. But what was most important to this union of the Burrus and the early Rastafari were the rituals of sound that both communities instituted in the colonial ghettos of Kingston. Saakana has traced the Burru drumming ritual back to a Ghanaian ceremony that took place around Christmastime. In the 1930s, the ritual of drumming was a customary way of welcoming discharged prisoners back into the folds of the ghetto community.

When the Rastafarians took over the ritual, they modified it, adding their own thematic obsessions to the African songs of insult and praise. From this came the ritual of the nyabinghi, which was said to mean “death to black and white oppressors” and became a term also used to describe the most orthodox members of the Rastafarian creed. In the sacred space of ritual, members of the faith meditated, reasoned with each other, debated Old Testament doctrine, and soundly criticized the exploitative and racist system they were living in. And they beat the drums, chanting down Babylon and conjuring up an alternate space of black community called “Africa.”

They did this in the yards of West Kingston, the same spaces that decades later would provide the genesis of the Jamaican sound systems.

Found in Bass History from 

The Sound of Culture: Dread Discourse and Jamaican Sound Systems by LOUIS CHUDE-SOKEI 

(Language, Rhythm, and Sound: Black Popular Cultures into the Twenty-first Century, 1997)