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This article is about the musical genre. Ska_sentence_0

For other uses, see SKA. Ska_sentence_1


Stylistic originsSka_header_cell_0_1_0 Ska_cell_0_1_1
Cultural originsSka_header_cell_0_2_0 Late 1950s, JamaicaSka_cell_0_2_1
Derivative formsSka_header_cell_0_3_0 Ska_cell_0_3_1
Fusion genresSka_header_cell_0_4_0
Regional scenesSka_header_cell_0_5_0
Other topicsSka_header_cell_0_6_0

Ska (/skɑː/; Jamaican[skjæ) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska_sentence_2

It combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. Ska_sentence_3

Ska is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the off beat. Ska_sentence_4

It was developed in Jamaica in the 1960s when Stranger Cole, Prince Buster, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, and Duke Reid formed sound systems to play American rhythm and blues and then began recording their own songs. Ska_sentence_5

In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with British mods and with many skinheads. Ska_sentence_6

Music historians typically divide the history of ska into three periods: the original Jamaican scene of the 1960s; the 2 Tone ska revival of the late 1970s in Britain, which fused Jamaican ska rhythms and melodies with the faster tempos and harder edge of punk rock forming ska-punk; and third wave ska, which involved bands from a wide range of countries around the world, in the late 1980s and 1990s. Ska_sentence_7

Etymology Ska_section_0

There are multiple theories about the origins of the word ska. Ska_sentence_8

Ernest Ranglin claimed that the term was coined by musicians to refer to the "skat! Ska_sentence_9

skat! Ska_sentence_10

skat!" Ska_sentence_11

scratching guitar strum. Ska_sentence_12

Another explanation is that at a recording session in 1959 produced by Coxsone Dodd, double bassist Cluett Johnson instructed guitarist Ranglin to "play like ska, ska, ska", although Ranglin has denied this, stating "Clue couldn't tell me what to play!" Ska_sentence_13

A further theory is that it derives from Johnson's word skavoovie, with which he was known to greet his friends. Ska_sentence_14

Jackie Mittoo insisted that the musicians called the rhythm Staya Staya, and that it was Byron Lee who introduced the term "ska". Ska_sentence_15

Derrick Morgan said: "Guitar and piano making a ska sound, like 'ska, ska," Ska_sentence_16

History Ska_section_1

Jamaican ska Ska_section_2


Music of JamaicaSka_header_cell_1_0_0
General topicsSka_header_cell_1_1_0
Nationalistic and patriotic songsSka_header_cell_1_3_0
National anthemSka_header_cell_1_4_0 Jamaica, Land We LoveSka_cell_1_4_1
Regional musicSka_header_cell_1_5_0

After World War II, Jamaicans purchased radios in increasing numbers and were able to hear rhythm and blues music from the Southern United States in cities such as New Orleans by artists such as Fats Domino, Barbie Gaye, Rosco Gordon and Louis Jordan whose early recordings all contain the seeds of the "behind-the-beat" feel of ska and reggae. Ska_sentence_17

The stationing of American military forces during and after the war meant that Jamaicans could listen to military broadcasts of American music, and there was a constant influx of records from the United States. Ska_sentence_18

To meet the demand for that music, entrepreneurs such as Prince Buster, Coxsone Dodd, and Duke Reid formed sound systems. Ska_sentence_19

As the supply of previously unheard tunes in the jump blues and more traditional R&B genres began to dry up in the late 1950s, Jamaican producers began recording their own version of the genres with local artists. Ska_sentence_20

These recordings were initially made to be played on "soft wax" (a lacquer on metal disc acetate later to become known as a "dub plate"), but as demand for them grew eventually some time in the second half of 1959 (believed by most to be in the last quarter) producers such as Coxsone Dodd and Duke Reid began to issue these recording on 45rpm 7-inch discs. Ska_sentence_21

At this point the style was a direct copy of the American "shuffle blues" style, but within two or three years it had morphed into the more familiar ska style with the off-beat guitar chop that could be heard in some of the more uptempo late-1950s American rhythm and blues recordings such as Domino's "Be My Guest" and Barbie Gaye's "My Boy Lollypop", both of which were popular on Jamaican sound systems of the late 1950s. Ska_sentence_22

Domino's rhythm, accentuating the offbeat, was a particular influence. Ska_sentence_23

This "classic" ska style was of bars made up of four triplets but was characterized by a guitar chop on the off beat—known as an upstroke or 'skank'—with horns taking the lead and often following the off-beat skank and piano emphasizing the bass line and, again, playing the skank. Ska_sentence_24

Drums kept 4 time and the bass drum was accented on the third beat of each four-triplet phrase. Ska_sentence_25

The snare would play side stick and accent the third beat of each 4-triplet phrase. Ska_sentence_26

The upstroke sound can also be found in other Caribbean forms of music, such as mento and calypso. Ska_sentence_27

Ernest Ranglin asserted that the difference between R&B and ska beats is that the former goes "chink-ka" and the latter goes "ka-chink". Ska_sentence_28

One theory about the origin of ska is that Prince Buster created it during the inaugural recording session for his new record label Wild Bells. Ska_sentence_29

The session was financed by Duke Reid, who was supposed to get half of the songs to release. Ska_sentence_30

The guitar began emphasizing the second and fourth beats in the bar, giving rise to the new sound. Ska_sentence_31

The drums were taken from traditional Jamaican drumming and marching styles. Ska_sentence_32

To create the ska beat, Prince Buster essentially flipped the R&B shuffle beat, stressing the offbeats with the help of the guitar. Ska_sentence_33

Prince Buster has explicitly cited American rhythm and blues as the origin of ska: specifically, Willis Jackson's song "Later for the Gator" (which was Coxsone Dodd's number one selection). Ska_sentence_34

The first ska recordings were created at facilities such as Federal Records, Studio One, and WIRL Records in Kingston, Jamaica with producers such as Dodd, Reid, Prince Buster, and Edward Seaga. Ska_sentence_35

The ska sound coincided with the celebratory feelings surrounding Jamaica's independence from the UK in 1962; an event commemorated by songs such as Derrick Morgan's "Forward March" and The Skatalites' "Freedom Sound". Ska_sentence_36

Until Jamaica ratified the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the country did not honor international music copyright protection. Ska_sentence_37

This created many cover songs and reinterpretations. Ska_sentence_38

One such cover was Millie Small's version of the R&B/shuffle tune, "My Boy Lollypop", first recorded in New York in 1956 by 14-year-old Barbie Gaye. Ska_sentence_39

Smalls' rhythmically similar version, released in 1964, was Jamaica's first commercially successful international hit. Ska_sentence_40

With over seven million copies sold, it remains one of the best selling reggae/ska songs of all time. Ska_sentence_41

Many other Jamaican artists would have success recording instrumental ska versions of popular American and British music, such as Beatles songs, Motown and Atlantic soul hits, movie theme songs and instrumentals (007, Guns of Navarone). Ska_sentence_42

The Wailers covered the Beatles' "And I Love Her", and radically reinterpreted Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone". Ska_sentence_43

They also created their own versions of Latin-influenced music from artists such as Mongo Santamaría. Ska_sentence_44

The Skatalites , Lord Creator, Laurel Aitken, Roland Alphonso, Tommy Macook, Jackie Mitto, Desmond Dekker, and Don Drummond also recorded ska. Ska_sentence_45

Byron Lee & the Dragonaires performed ska with Prince Buster, Eric "Monty" Morris, and Jimmy Cliff at the 1964 New York World's Fair. Ska_sentence_46

As music changed in the United States, so did ska. Ska_sentence_47

In 1965 and 1966, when American soul music became slower and smoother, ska changed its sound accordingly and evolved into rocksteady. Ska_sentence_48

However, rocksteady's heyday was brief, peaking in 1967. Ska_sentence_49

By 1968, ska evolved again into reggae. Ska_sentence_50

2 Tone Ska_section_3

Main article: 2 Tone (music genre) Ska_sentence_51

The 2 Tone genre, which began in the late 1970s in the Coventry area of UK, was a fusion of Jamaican ska rhythms and melodies with punk rock's more aggressive guitar chords and lyrics. Ska_sentence_52

Compared to 1960s ska, 2 Tone music had faster tempos, fuller instrumentation, and a harder edge. Ska_sentence_53

The genre was named after 2 Tone Records, a record label founded by Jerry Dammers of The Specials. Ska_sentence_54

In many cases, the reworking of classic ska songs turned the originals into hits again in the United Kingdom. Ska_sentence_55

The 2 Tone movement promoted racial unity at a time when racial tensions were high in England. Ska_sentence_56

There were many Specials songs that raised awareness of the issues of racism, fighting and friendship issues. Ska_sentence_57

Riots in English cities were a feature during the summer that The Specials song "Ghost Town" was a hit, although this work was in a slower, reggae beat. Ska_sentence_58

Most of the 2 Tone bands had multiracial lineups, such as The Beat (known as The English Beat in North America and Australia), The Specials, and The Selecter. Ska_sentence_59

Although only on the 2 Tone label for one single, Madness was one of the most effective bands at bringing the 2 Tone genre into the mainstream. Ska_sentence_60

The music of this era resonated with white working class youth and West Indian immigrants who experienced the struggles addressed in the lyrics. Ska_sentence_61

Third wave and post-third wave Ska_section_4

See also: Ska punk Ska_sentence_62

Third-wave ska originated in the punk scene in the late 1980s and became commercially successful in the 1990s. Ska_sentence_63

Although some third-wave ska has a traditional 1960s sound, most third-wave ska is characterized by dominating guitar riffs and large horn sections. Ska_sentence_64

Examples of third-wave ska bands include The Toasters, Fishbone, No Doubt, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Streetlight Manifesto, The Hotknives, Hepcat, The Slackers, Suicide Machines, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Bim Skala Bim, Mad Caddies, The Aquabats, Mustard Plug, Five Iron Frenzy, Buck-o-Nine, Suburban Legends, The Pietasters, Save Ferris, Goldfinger, Dance Hall Crashers, Mephiskapheles, Blue Meanies, and The O.C. Ska_sentence_65 Supertones. Ska_sentence_66

New York City bands such as The Second Step, the Connotations, The Third Degree, and The Boilers had a steady presence at CBGB throughout the mid-to-late 1980s. Ska_sentence_67

United Kingdom Ska_section_5

By the late 1980s, ska had experienced a minor resurgence of popularity in the United Kingdom, due to bands such as The Burial and The Hotknives, The manager of the aforementioned band Dick Crippen formerly of hit band Tenpole Tudor then teamed up with cult record producer & songwriter for Mod icon Eleanor Rigby, Russell C. Brennan to form Ministry of Ska who took elements of classic & Rudeboy Ska and added a new twist 'Ska Surf' which proved popular worldwide with their debut album 'Rarin to Go' being called irefreshing and one step beyond the many soundalike bands around at the the press. Ska_sentence_68

They also appeared on the best selling album 'Ska Beats' This made them one of the more popular bands going into the 90's & 'Rarin to Go' sold out quickly and became very collectable then after a contribution to the DR.Martens seminal album 'Generation to Generation' they released a 'Best of Ministry of Ska' compilation on Future Legend Records and the new single 'Ska Surfin' before being sidetracked with other projects. Ska_sentence_69

Rumour has it a new album is due in 2021., The 80s & 90s also heralded many ska festivals, and a re-emergence of the traditional skinhead subculture. Ska_sentence_70

Germany, Spain, Australia, Russia, Japan and Latin America Ska_section_6

The early 1980s saw a massive surge in ska's popularity in Germany, which led to the founding of many ska bands like The Busters, record labels and festivals. Ska_sentence_71

In Spain, ska became relevant in the 1980s in the Basque Country due to the influence of Basque Radical Rock, with Kortatu and Potato being the most representatives bands. Ska_sentence_72

(Skalariak and Betagarri followed their footsteps in the early 1990s and their influence is visible outside the Basque Country in punk-rock bands like Ska-P, Boikot and many others that have gained importance in the Spanish rock and punk rock scene and festivals. Ska_sentence_73

The Australian ska scene flourished in the mid-1980s, following the musical precedents set by 2 Tone, and spearheaded by bands such as Strange Tenants, No Nonsense and The Porkers. Ska_sentence_74

Some of the Australian ska revival bands found success on the national music charts, most notably The Allniters, who had a #10 hit with a ska cover of "Montego Bay" in 1983. Ska_sentence_75

The 30 piece Melbourne Ska Orchestra has enjoyed success in recent years, touring internationally, including sets at Glastonbury and Montreux Jazz Festival. Ska_sentence_76

Russian (then-Soviet) ska scene established in the mid-1980s in Saint Petersburg as the anglophone opposition to more traditional Russian rock music. Ska_sentence_77

AVIA and N.O.M. Ska_sentence_78

were among the first bands of genre. Ska_sentence_79

Then the bands like Spitfire, Distemper, Leningrad and Markscheider Kunst began popular and commercially successful in Russia and abroad in the late 1990s. Ska_sentence_80

Japan established its own ska scene, colloquially referred to as J-ska, in the mid-1980s. Ska_sentence_81

The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, formed in 1985, have been one of the most commercially successful progenitors of Japanese ska. Ska_sentence_82

Latin America's ska scene started developing in the mid-1980s. Ska_sentence_83

Latin American ska bands typically play traditional ska rhythms blended with strong influences from Latin music and rock en Español. Ska_sentence_84

The most prominent of these bands is Los Fabulosos Cadillacs from Argentina. Ska_sentence_85

Formed in 1985, the band has sold millions of records worldwide, scoring an international hit single with "El Matador" in 1994 and winning the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock/Alternative album. Ska_sentence_86

United States and Canada Ska_section_7

By the early 1980s, 2 Tone-influenced ska bands began forming throughout the United States. Ska_sentence_87

The Uptones from Berkeley, California and The Toasters from New York City—both formed in 1981 — were among the first active ska bands in North America. Ska_sentence_88

They are both credited with laying the groundwork for American ska and establishing scenes in their respective regions. Ska_sentence_89

In Los Angeles around the same time, The Untouchables also formed. Ska_sentence_90

While many of the early American ska bands continued in the musical traditions set by 2 Tone and the mod revival, bands such as Fishbone, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Operation Ivy pioneered the American ska punk subgenre, a fusion of ska and punk rock that typically downplayed ska's R&B influence in favor of faster tempos and guitar distortion. Ska_sentence_91

Two hotspots for the United States' burgeoning ska scenes were New York City and Orange County, California. Ska_sentence_92

In New York, Toasters frontman Robert "Bucket" Hingley formed independent record label Moon Ska Records in 1983. Ska_sentence_93

The label quickly became the largest independent ska label in the United States. Ska_sentence_94

The Orange County ska scene was a major breeding ground for ska punk and more contemporary pop-influenced ska music, personified by bands such as Reel Big Fish and Sublime. Ska_sentence_95

It was here that the term "third wave ska" was coined and popularized by Albino Brown and Tazy Phyllipz (hosts of the Ska Parade radio show) to describe the new wave of ska-influenced bands which were steadily gaining notoriety; and Brown wrote the first treatise on ska's third wave in 1994. Ska_sentence_96

The San Francisco Bay Area also contributed to ska's growing popularity, with Skankin' Pickle, Let's Go Bowling and the Dance Hall Crashers becoming known on the touring circuit. Ska_sentence_97

The mid-1990s saw a considerable rise in ska music's underground popularity, marked by the formation of many ska-based record labels, booking organizations and indie zines. Ska_sentence_98

While Moon Ska was still the largest of the United States' ska labels, other notable labels included Jump Up Records of Chicago, which covered the thriving midwest scene, and Steady Beat Recordings of Los Angeles, which covered Southern California's traditional ska revival. Ska_sentence_99

Stomp Records of Montreal was Canada's primary producer and distributor of ska music. Ska_sentence_100

Additionally, many punk and indie rock labels, such as Hellcat Records and Fueled by Ramen, broadened their scope to include both ska and ska punk bands. Ska_sentence_101

Asian Man Records (formerly Dill Records), founded in 1996, started out primarily releasing ska punk albums before branching out to other music styles. Ska_sentence_102

In 1993, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones signed with Mercury Records, becoming the first American ska punk band to find mainstream commercial success, with their 1994 album Question the Answers achieving gold record status and peaking at #138 on the Billboard 200. Ska_sentence_103

In 1995, punk band Rancid, featuring former members of Operation Ivy, released the ska punk single "Time Bomb", which reached #8 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks, becoming the first major ska punk hit of the 1990s and launching the genre into the public eye. Ska_sentence_104

Over the next few years, a string of notable ska and ska-influenced singles became hits on mainstream radio, including "Sell Out" by Reel Big Fish and "The Impression That I Get" by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, all of whom would reach platinum status with each of their respective albums. Ska_sentence_105

By 1996, third wave ska was one of the most popular forms of alternative music in the United States. Ska_sentence_106

A sign of mainstream knowledge of third wave ska was the inclusion of the parody song "Your Horoscope for Today" on "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1999 album Running with Scissors. Ska_sentence_107

By the late 1990s, mainstream interest in third wave ska bands waned as other music genres gained momentum. Ska_sentence_108

Moon Ska Records folded in 2000, but Moon Ska Europe, a licensed affiliate based in Europe, continued operating in the 2000s and was later relaunched as Moon Ska World. Ska_sentence_109

In 2003, Hingley launched a new ska record label, Megalith Records. Ska_sentence_110

, a label in Chicago, IL, also releases new ska music. Ska_sentence_111

Jump Up Records has been in business for 25 years. Ska_sentence_112

In the early 21st century, ska was mostly absent from the radio, though there were exceptions. Ska_sentence_113

In 2017, Captain SKA reached #4 on the UK charts with "Liar Liar GE2017." Ska_sentence_114

In 2018, The Interrupters broke into the U.S. charts with their single "She's Kerosene." Ska_sentence_115

By 2019, several publications started wondering aloud whether a "fourth wave" of ska was about to emerge. Ska_sentence_116

See also Ska_section_8


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