Keen to take advantage of the opportunities being in this wonderful country offers, I'm keen to learn more about Reggae. Partly for its own sake, to find out more about Jamaican culture. But also, as a member of a band based in Sherborne St John near Basingstoke, wanting to take something back with me. In my absence we're looking for a new bass player, trust the auditions go well and looking forward to working with you in due course - and Kevin, it's been brilliant working with you, I love the clear foundation you provide with Adam on drums, leaving me on keyboards often playing one-handed which is just great! So Chris, Adam, Bruce, Steve, Ali and our new bassist, please read on!
As I understand it - and do please correct me if I'm wrong - most forms of music lay a foundation on the beat in the bass, whether this be bass guitar, double bass, pedals on an organ, left hand of a piano,etc. etc. The tune then may be on or off the beat depending on the style of music. In Reggae it's the opposite way round, the tune, particularly the singing, is on the beat and the bass, rhythm guitar and drumming are off the beat. Of course, if everything was off the beat you'd be back on the beat again!
The class I attended was specifically about Bob Marley, the best known Reggae artist outside of Jamaica and one of the best within. There is a school of thought that says that, in popularising Reggae outside of the country through extensive touring in the last 10 years of his life, 1971-1981, he compromised the purity of the genre in making it accessible to a wider group of people. If one accepts this as true, then whether this is a good or a bad thing is, of course, a matter of debate.
Reggae music is, of course, tightly bound up with the Rastifarian faith. As I understand it - and, again, do please correct me if I'm wrong - the faith has roots in Christianity, please see below a rendition of Psalm 150 at the Bob Marley Museum, which starts, "Praise Jah in His sanctuary."
There is a strong emphasis on links with Africa, with Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia regarded as a reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Another well known aspect of the Rastifarian religion is its use of marijuana. Peter Tosh worked with Bob Marley in his lifetime and is a significant Reggae artist in his own right. If you look Peter Tosh up on youtube, the first song which comes up is, "Legalise it", ie. marijuana. I'm told, by Cleave (see entry for 22/2/12) that Rastifarian temples have special permission to use it. But, if there are any would-be tourists to Jamaica reading this, marijuana is illegal in this country, the penalties for use let alone supply are severe, any impression you may get from anywhere to the contrary is entirely wrong!
I'm told by Michael Wilson (see entry for tomorrow) that Bob Marley has been awarded the Order of Merit, the second highest accolade in this country, but has not been given the status of 'National hero' - it comes up every year and is turned down. Marijuana is certainly one of the reasons for this.
However, Chris, Adam, Bruce, Steve and Ali, I'm aware this doesn't directly help in our quest further to diversify as a band. I'm trying to get a bit of a tutorial arranged, I'll let you know what happens!
Got talking to one of the (other?) students at the class looking to find a focus for her assignment. Of course, can't help directly, but like to think I know a little about assignment writing! Quite a problem actually - remember this is specifically about Bob Marley who has been dead for 30 years and studied at all levels from primary school to professors of musicology. Finding a focus which brings some originality on the one hand and on the other which is not trying to make connections which simply don't exist. So, PGCE students if you're reading this, I'm not suggesting that what you're doing is easy, but having the opportunity to collect your own data does, actually, considerably simplify things.