Ska was one of the most exciting forms of music that
was embraced by the Jamaican Culture. Its sounds vibrated throughout the island.
Below is a brief history of the Ska music and its generation.
THE BIRTH OF SKA
(credit of article from link below)
Like mento before it, ska was born out of a combining musical elements. Both mento and jazz were combined to produce a new style that was initially called 'Shuffle' Popular shuffle hits were recorded by Neville Esson, Owen Grey and the Overtakers. The newly set up recording studios were always on the look out for the next new sound. With the
popularity of American R&B artists like Fats Domino and Louis Jordan many
Jamaican performers incorporated the 12 bar blues chord progressions and boogie
bass lines with mento guitar rhythms. Increasing emphasis was placed on the
offbeat rhythms of mento.
The offbeats became shorter and more detached. These distinct syncopated rhythms
were sounded on guitar and piano. The new style of music became known as ska.
The first person to record this 'ska' rhythm was Ernest Ranglin when performing
with Cluet Johnson (Clue J.) and the Blues Busters
One day he was trying to get the
guitars to play
something, and him say 'make the guitars go Ska!,
Ska!, Ska!' And that's the way the ska name was born.
(Bunny Lee in Johnson and Pines. 1982 .49)
Clue J was well known for greeting his friends with a call of 'Love Skavoovie'. Many believe the name of ska is a shortened form of this greeting.
Ska quickly became the most dominant form of music in Jamaica. Its success coincided with the independence and the departure of the English in 1962. There was a new attitude towards indigenous music. Ska was already enormously popular in Jamaica and music producers attempted to export it to the rest of the world, a move that was supported by the government. It was the national music of Jamaica and was demonstrated to the the world at the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York. The Jamaican delegates included Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, Jimmy Cliff , Prince Buster and dancers Ronnie Nasralla and Jannette Phillips who taught the world the moves for the 'Backy Skank', the 'Rootsman Skank' and the 'Ska'.
Early ska dance movements and some lyrics were influenced by the religious revival era. Songs such as 'Wings of a Dove' performed by both The Blues Busters and The Wailers, 'Oil in My Lamp' by Eric Morris and 'King of Kings' by Jimmy Cliff are revival tunes with lyrics that are sped up. 'Israelites' by Desmond Dekker also features revival characteristics in the lyrics. Other ska lyrics were pop orientated and feature very little Jamaican patois. These songs were either nonsense lyrics such as Eric Morris' 'Humpty Dumpty' and 'Solomon Gundie' or romantic such as Delroy Wilsons' 'Dancing Mood', which was one of the first songs to bridge the gap between ska and it's slower successor Rocksteady (more later). In stark contrast are the political ska lyrics that reflected the social
concerns of rude boys.