How to Identify Ska

Happy Wednesday,

I hope everyone is having a good week so far. We here at AFRO*DISIAC are working hard on our next big thing after an extremely successful Bournemouth Reggae Weekender event a couple weeks back.

Today’s blog is Ska-themed as we all enjoyed a vast selection of local Ska acts at the event and I wanted to dive a little deeper into what makes Ska the genre we know and love.

The Ska genre originated out of late 50s Jamaica and is the precursor to both the Rocksteady and Reggae genres that you will most likely be familiar with. It is considered to be an amalgamation of elements found in Calypso and Caribbean mento combined with American Jazz and R&B. The music is designed to be danced to and is generally quite upbeat although, much like reggae, songs are more often than not about local or sometimes political issues.

Musically, Ska is identified by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the offbeat. Instrument-wise Ska uses electric guitars, jazzy horn section trumpets, saxophones and trombones.

The aesthetics of the genre, according to Google are as follows: “Musicians who play ska dress in hats and suits. Many ska bands wear clothes with a chessboard pattern of black and white squares. Doc Martens are a common type of shoe. This pattern symbolizes the way that ska music mixes of Black and White musicians and styles of music.”

So that’s how we know a track is part of the Ska genre. If you’re new to Ska and want to listen to a few tracks then I can recommend “Baggy Trousers” by English Ska giants, Madness. Alternatively, give Millie Smalls’ “My Boy Lollipop” a spin and you will not be disappointed.

Have a great week guys!


Written & Researched by Max Dervan

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