Learn how to play Reggae rhythms on your pots and pans!

Bob Marley – a short biography

Bob Marley (Robert Nesta Marley) was born on 6 February 1945 and died on 11 May 1981. He was a Jamaican musician who brought reggae to an international audience in the 1970’s as the leader of Bob Marley and the Wailers. He began writing and recording songs from an early age but it wasn’t until he was stranded in London with no money after a tour fell apart that he was discovered by Island records. Marley became known as a Rastafari icon and he sought to infuse his music with a sense of spirituality. He was controversial in his outspoken support for the legalisation of marijuana. Marley sold more than 20 million records throughout his career, making him the first international superstar to emerge from the so-called third world.

Reggae music

Reggae is a genre of music that developed in Jamaica in the late 1960’s. Main characteristics are off-beat guitar and keyboard chords (accenting the 2nd and 4th beats) and a typical drum kit pattern (accenting the 3rd beat). These accents give reggae a unique rhythmic feel (compared to popular music that accents the 1st beat of the bar). Even though reggae music is from Jamaica and not Trinidad the style works really well on the steel pans.

“One Love”

One Love is one of Bob Marley’s most famous songs from the 1977 album Exodus. It was first recorded in a ska style by Marley’s original group, The Wailers in 1965 and released as a single before being re-recorded and released in 1970 and 1984. The song contains an interpretation of The Impressions’ song People Get Ready, written by Curtis Mayfield. One Love has appeared in TV adverts and films such as ‘Marley and Me’ and ‘Shrek Forever After’. It was also named song of the millennium by the World Health Organisation.

The Rhythm and Steel adult groups have been learning how to play an arrangement of One Love. The rhythms in the melody line are quite tricky in places for the tenors and the bass part is quite complex. The double guitars and double seconds play on the 2nd and 4th beats to emphasise the reggae style.

Video tutorial

Before social distancing began I had been planning on teaching the “Engine Room” percussion parts to the Rhythm and Steel children so that they could play along with the adults.

So therefore it seemed fitting to feature this song in the next tutorial video. Some of my adults have steel pans at home to play along with and anyone can join in with the percussion parts on their pots and pans. Try not to rush the rhythms as the reggae style is generally quite laid-back.

Follow the link to watch the video tutorial and remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel so that you can hear more like this!


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