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Ska is a form of Jamaican music which began in the early 1960s. Combining elements of traditional mento[?] and calypso with an American rhythm and blues sound, it was a precursor in Jamaica to rocksteady, and later, reggae.

The sound of the ska was created at Studio One[?] in Kingston, Jamaica.

The music of ska is known for the placement of the accented guitar and piano rhythms on the upbeats. The word ska may have a onomatopoeia origins in a tradition of poetic or possibly even musical rhythms.

Guitarist Ernest Ranglin[?], said that "the offbeat guitar scratching that he and other musicians played was referred to as 'skat! skat! skat!'"

Onomatopoeia-based music uses the mouth and vocal cords (that is, voice) as the primary musical instrument. A common music tool in European and American cultures uses the voice instrumental tool that is technically called a solfege. A solfege is a vocalized musical scale that is commonly known as Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti. A solfege may be sung, spoken or used in a combination. A variety of similar tools are found in scat singing of jazz, Delta blues and also rock and roll and the ska of reggae (the last which is also called Two Tone).

It should be noted that historically, some forms of onomatopoeia served as a mnemonic and a mimetic tool for musicians around the world. See mouth music.

Ska's popularity has waxed and waned since its original inception, and has had revivals of note in England in the 1980s (known as Two-Tone), and another wave of popularity in the 1990s (referred to as Third Wave Ska).

The Two-Tone era was named after the similarly titled record label, formed by Jerry Dammers[?], keyboardist of The Specials. Other artists on this label included The Selecter[?] and the commercially successful Madness.

The biggest selling American bands of Third Wave Ska were The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and No Doubt, both of whom fused ska with rock and punk music to the point of losing almost all Jamaican elements in their musics.

Further Reference

  • Timothy White, Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley, UK:Corgi Books, 1983

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