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The emergence of sound system dances allowed for the spread of Jamaican music throughout the Western world. Jamaican music evolved through commercialization, starting from a point of trying to appeal through human emotional issues, but eventually taking on the role as a central part of the political evolution of Jamaica during the latter 20th Century. As Bob Marley took on an international presence, he and others who followed brought reggae to the United States where it influenced the evolution of politically volatile rap music. The influences of Jamaican music on the Western world evolved from an island that was undergoing social and political change. Jamaican Music Development History of the Jamaican Sound The history of Jamaica is mixed between the African heritage and the colonialism of Europe. The main language of Jamaica of the island is English, but the traditional history of the region is that evolved from small villages on the island from the roots of an African heritage which was untouched by European influence. From the evidence of the primarily European influences on daily life, it can be concluded that Jamaica is primarily a European influenced culture but has retained the flavor of Africa in its arts. According to Chang and Chen, “the performance style of authentic folk music in Jamaica is African, no matter what the origins of the music”.1 The proof of this is seen in Rastafarian renditions of European Bible hymns in which complicated percussive expressions and the insertion of syncopations not in the original music are decidedly African influenced. Additionally, the use of relaxed vocal timbre which obtains the sound from the face rather than from the head expresses an African style as opposed to a European influence.2 One of the more prevalent techniques that can be seen in Jamaica that is directly influenced from Africa is the call and answer group vocal technique. Most music in both the African and Jamaican format is conceived vocally. This is so important that there exists a ‘sing-talk’ format that can be considered the precursor to rap. The call and answer form, which is fairly self-explanatory, is a core of African and Jamaican musical performance. Rural Jamaican music is rife with this format and it has been translated as an influential factor into ska, rocksteady, and reggae.3 The belief is that most of the African influences are from the period of time of colonial slavery, but this may not be the case. The theory that African influence is based solely on this time of slavery can be refuted when taken into consideration with the addition of indentured servants who came outside of slavery during the period between 1841 and 1865. The Rastafarians are defined by Ethiopian origins, by the Bongo Nation are influenced from ancestry in the Congo-Angola region of West Africa. What is now known by Rastafarians as Nyabinghi can be shown to be a direct result of the combination of theses traditions.4 According to Chang and Chen “Jamaican popular music has always mixed the rhythm of Africa and the melody of Europe”5 During the early 20th century Jamaica was beginning to create a post-colonialism world with a distinct national identity. In the 1930s music that was specific to Jamaica began to emerge as a defining element of the culture. As development workers began to work towards improving conditions of villages and towns, organizing a network in order to gain control over distribution of resources and to
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(“The History of Jamaican Music in the 20th Century and its Influence on Essay”, n.d.)
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“The History of Jamaican Music in the 20th Century and Its Influence on Essay”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/history/1395973-why-has-jamaican-music-been-so-influential.
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