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Ska is a genre of music, originating in Jamaica, characterized by an upbeat tempo and stress on the half-beat. It is well known for heavily influencing reggae and rocksteady. Ska has experienced three waves of popularity: the first wave in the 1950s and 1960s primarily in Jamaica, the second wave (known as 2 Tone genre) primarily in England, and the third wave that is characterized by heavy mixing with and influence from punk rock as well as a resurgence of commercial success.

The syncopation in ska is generally created by the guitarist in the band, and sometimes he is helped by keyboards or piano [1]. A walking bass line is added to accent with the rhythms of the upbeats. The drum kept to 4/4 time with the bass drum accented on the third beat. The snare would also accent the third beat, playing side stick. Ska bands typically have a guitarist, bassist, drummer, vocalists, and a horn section. The horn section usually includes some combination of trumpeters, saxophonists, and trombonists. Some ska bands also utilize a piano, keyboards, or an organ.

Originating in Jamaica in the 1950s, early ska was influenced by both American and Caribbean music. It took elements from mento, a type of Jamaican folk music popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and calypso, which was developed by African slaves taken to the Caribbean [2]. This was combined with the popular American music of the time, like jazz and rhythm and blues, Jamaica’s favorite artists being Fats Domino, Ray Charles, and Louis Jordan [1]. By the late 1950s, ska had been established and had become the new popular music of the Jamaican people.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Conolly, Mike, Dir. Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music. Perf. Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley. 2002. DVD.
  2. Vanhoof, Ian. "History of SKA." Web. 13 Nov. 2009. <>.
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