What Percussion Instruments Does A Reggae Track Usually Consist of?

I.Q.

New member
I caught myself listening to some of my Bob Marley records today and started picturing him and his band and stage performing. That's when I found out I didn't even know all the instruments that were being played in his songs. I know he probably had an electric piano, bass guitar, drumkit, woodblock, cowbell, gyro, tambourine, and some steel drums, but the rest of the sh*t he be using is a total mystery to me so I was hoping maybe some of yall could tell me the basic instruments a Reggae track would consists. What are some hand drums that are used in Reggae?
 

engineroom

New member
I.Q. said:
I caught myself listening to some of my Bob Marley records today and started picturing him and his band and stage performing. That's when I found out I didn't even know all the instruments that were being played in his songs. I know he probably had an electric piano, bass guitar, drumkit, woodblock, cowbell, gyro, tambourine, and some steel drums, but the rest of the sh*t he be using is a total mystery to me so I was hoping maybe some of yall could tell me the basic instruments a Reggae track would consists. What are some hand drums that are used in Reggae?

STEEL DRUMS?!?

dude wrong island

The back in the day Wailers would have had an electric piano (Rhodes or Wurlitzer), an organ like a Hammond B-3, brass section, electric bass, lead and rhythm electric guitars, percussion, and traps.
 

I.Q.

New member
engineroom said:


STEEL DRUMS?!?

dude wrong island

The back in the day Wailers would have had an electric piano (Rhodes or Wurlitzer), an organ like a Hammond B-3, brass section, electric bass, lead and rhythm electric guitars, percussion, and traps.
I heard a steel drum in the beggining of "Get up, Stand Up" I'm pretty sure it was a steel drum.
well thanks anyways.
 

engineroom

New member
I.Q. said:

I heard a steel drum in the beggining of "Get up, Stand Up" I'm pretty sure it was a steel drum.
well thanks anyways.

the only steel drums you will hear in jamaica are in cheesy tourist spots- steel drum (or more properly "steel pan") is from Trinidad (DUST IN DEH FACE for all my Exodus fans...)

i think you heard something else, i don't recall ever hearing any pan in Bob's music.
 

selector waxx

audionerd
the thing you heared was a clean snarehits (snares are down) with some chorus and reverb on it, no steeldrums

steeldrums are upperclass in jamaica, rasta's never use steeldrums
 

engineroom

New member
selector waxx said:
the thing you heared was a clean snarehits (snares are down) with some chorus and reverb on it, no steeldrums

steeldrums are upperclass in jamaica, rasta's never use steeldrums

"upper class?"

where do you get that from?

let me repeat... STEEL PAN IS NOT JAMAICAN.
 

selector waxx

audionerd
wel, i know many jamaicans and they say steeldrums is a calypso/soca instrument, that music is rich black man/tourist music, rasta's and most other ppl from the ghetto's listen to dancehall, reggae, and maybe hiphop, rnb, soul, funk and african music, not soca and calypso.
 

engineroom

New member
selector waxx said:
wel, i know many jamaicans and they say steeldrums is a calypso/soca instrument, that music is rich black man/tourist music, rasta's and most other ppl from the ghetto's listen to dancehall, reggae, and maybe hiphop, rnb, soul, funk and african music, not soca and calypso.

you know this BS is constantly repeated everywhere

soca and calypso is culturally equivalent to reggae in Trinidad and the rest of the English speaking caribbean- it is the poor man music, the sufferers music, the voice of the people- steelpan is especially a part of this- if you have ever been in the north stand during panorama the BIGGEST support is for Despos from Laventille (a very poor part of Port Of Spain). steelpan is from man in the ghetto in trinidad WHO WERE TOO POOR TO BUY PROPER INSTRUMENTS who decided to invent their own from discarded 40 gallon oil drums. carnival is a celebration with serious cultural roots and expression, in fact it draws much deeper on real African roots than anything in reggae or rasta does.

in jamaica, wealthier (uptown) people are traditionally who could afford to fly to the EC for carnival (and who also put on the much smaller local soca events), thus Jamaicans generally have had a very skewed understanding of carnival and calypso & soca and think it is rich man thing. this is where the misunderstanding arises from- jamaicans ignorant of the culture of their neighbours (as usual).
 

Mr.Curlz

Music forever.
engineroom said:


you know this BS is constantly repeated everywhere

soca and calypso is culturally equivalent to reggae in Trinidad and the rest of the English speaking caribbean- it is the poor man music, the sufferers music, the voice of the people- steelpan is especially a part of this- if you have ever been in the north stand during panorama the BIGGEST support is for Despos from Laventille (a very poor part of Port Of Spain). steelpan is from man in the ghetto in trinidad WHO WERE TOO POOR TO BUY PROPER INSTRUMENTS who decided to invent their own from discarded 40 gallon oil drums. carnival is a celebration with serious cultural roots and expression, in fact it draws much deeper on real African roots than anything in reggae or rasta does.

in jamaica, wealthier (uptown) people are traditionally who could afford to fly to the EC for carnival (and who also put on the much smaller local soca events), thus Jamaicans generally have had a very skewed understanding of carnival and calypso & soca and think it is rich man thing. this is where the misunderstanding arises from- jamaicans ignorant of the culture of their neighbours (as usual).

That pretty much summed it up.
 

selector waxx

audionerd
engineroom said:


you know this BS is constantly repeated everywhere

soca and calypso is culturally equivalent to reggae in Trinidad and the rest of the English speaking caribbean- it is the poor man music, the sufferers music, the voice of the people- steelpan is especially a part of this- if you have ever been in the north stand during panorama the BIGGEST support is for Despos from Laventille (a very poor part of Port Of Spain). steelpan is from man in the ghetto in trinidad WHO WERE TOO POOR TO BUY PROPER INSTRUMENTS who decided to invent their own from discarded 40 gallon oil drums. carnival is a celebration with serious cultural roots and expression, in fact it draws much deeper on real African roots than anything in reggae or rasta does.

in jamaica, wealthier (uptown) people are traditionally who could afford to fly to the EC for carnival (and who also put on the much smaller local soca events), thus Jamaicans generally have had a very skewed understanding of carnival and calypso & soca and think it is rich man thing. this is where the misunderstanding arises from- jamaicans ignorant of the culture of their neighbours (as usual).

this is what i wanted to tell but more detailed and better written

thnx engine room
 

selector waxx

audionerd
but carnival is not african, it's a typical western non christian/christian mix up of traditions. The german tribes who conquered europe after the romans had a kind of carnival to celebrate the start of the spring, wich was adapted by the catholic church in a christian way in the 4th century AC to make them more interesting for the german non christian warrior tribes, wich succeeded with the baptism of the hole west and south german tribes and the installation of christianity as state religion in their kingdoms.

this is the base of all carnivals in the world, cause that carnival where also dressed up ppl who are dancing and drinking all day and night and this habbit was exported during the colonisation of the world by europe in the 16th-18th century.

In the 17th-18th century, the black slaves in the caraibian and the rest of the america's took this habbit over and made their own version of it. This are the modern carnivals in the caraibian and south america like in trinidad, rio de janeiro, ...

here the original carnivals still exist after 1600 years, but it's not so exciting like in trinidad or the rest of the america's.
 
Last edited:

belizeño

Active member
engineroom said:


you know this BS is constantly repeated everywhere

soca and calypso is culturally equivalent to reggae in Trinidad and the rest of the English speaking caribbean- it is the poor man music, the sufferers music, the voice of the people- steelpan is especially a part of this- if you have ever been in the north stand during panorama the BIGGEST support is for Despos from Laventille (a very poor part of Port Of Spain). steelpan is from man in the ghetto in trinidad WHO WERE TOO POOR TO BUY PROPER INSTRUMENTS who decided to invent their own from discarded 40 gallon oil drums. carnival is a celebration with serious cultural roots and expression, in fact it draws much deeper on real African roots than anything in reggae or rasta does.

in jamaica, wealthier (uptown) people are traditionally who could afford to fly to the EC for carnival (and who also put on the much smaller local soca events), thus Jamaicans generally have had a very skewed understanding of carnival and calypso & soca and think it is rich man thing. this is where the misunderstanding arises from- jamaicans ignorant of the culture of their neighbours (as usual).

that was enlightening... isn't that true?
 

rhythmgj

Character in Spades...
There's a lot of interesting knowledge being dropped here re: Reggae, Calypso, Carnival/Carnavale, and socio-economic factors that not everyone considers. For those interested in an indepth study of Rastafarianism, Reggae, and social/class issues, I'd suggest Barry Chevannes book "Rastafari: Roots & Ideology" as a good start. For the Hip-Hop heads, you might be interested in looking at one of the roots of rap-- Trinadadian Extempo (improvised rhyming song lyrical tradition).

Short answers to the OP's initial question(s)-- yes, it's timabales (traditionally a Latin instrument), not steel drums that you hear in Marley's and others roots reggae work. And yes, the steel drums (or more properly, pans) were invented in Trinidad, but are also used in Jamaica (but not indigenous to).

Percussion instruments in roots reggae? Drumset, of course, timbales (played in a variety of ways, from the traditional, to the unique-- check out Bunny Wailer's brush playing on some of the original Wailers tunes and live performances), congas, bongos, and djembe; but also you hear a lot of vibra-slap/quijada, triangle, shakers, tambourine, woodblocks, cowbells, and ago-go bells.

One of the guys who "wrote the book," so to speak, on hand percussion/"toys" in Jamaican roots reggae was Alvin "Seeco" Patterson. He always played the right instrument, and the right rhythm, at the right time. Check out some of his amazing triangle work on the Wailer's sides. A lot of these guys, including Seeco, were not virtuosos in the way that some of the Latin, Brazilian, and African hand drummers and percussionists have been, but their creativity and ability to know exactly what's right for the song always amazes me.
Simple, elegant, and perfect grooves. Kind of like, if Ringo Starr was an indigenous Jamaican guy that played reggae-- basic, to the point, and perfectly placed for maximum effect.

GJ
 
Last edited:

rhythmgj

Character in Spades...
I would venture to guess that it is the category of traditional instrument that is most plentiful worldwide.


GJ
 
Top