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In this section you can find things that will assist you in your own computer-based musical productions. There's a lot of original Dubroom material which you can use, but also third party material. There's much more than "just" sampled material, as you can find some little pieces of software, presets and other things as well. Everything in this section is, like all stuff in the Dubroom by the way, legal and -a lot of times- absolutely free of charge. Definitely worth a visit, for novice to veteran.

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General Midi Drum List BPM - Delay Times List

ABOUT CHAPTER 4

Most reggae has a BPM region between 110 - 190 BPM. Where in most popular music the snare hits 2nd and 4th count, in reggae this is done on the 3rd count.

ABOUT THIS CHAPTER

This chapter has been re-written in September 2014. CLICK HERE for the archived version.

SLY AND ROBBIE

Wikipedia on Sly & Robbie
Sly Dunbar (r) and Robbie Shakespeare (l) are also called the rhythm twins. Sly Dunbar is considered by many the inventor of the steppers rhythm. It's militant vibe makes the rhythm very powerful, suiting well with militant conscious lyrics. 

COUNTING 1,2,3,4

Like most popular music, Reggae is a 4/4 rhythm. Where in popular music the snare is on the two and the four, in reggae these counts are filled with the "Skank". The Skanks are short chord hits played on instruments like Piano and Guitar. You'll discover much more in a later chapter.

MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - CHAPTER 5: FOUR BASIC REGGAE RHYTHMS

In music there are no iron rules, just golden ones. One of such rules or guidelines is the fact that the snare drum hits the third count in a bar, where the BPM settings are somewhere between 110-190. Another one is formed by four basic Reggae drum rhythms. With a couple of exceptions wherein a deliberate breaking of that golden rule takes place, every Reggae drum rhythm or pattern is a derivate from one of these four rhythms.

To show these four rhythms in their distinctiveness, all the snare drum and hi hat hits in the four rhythms are kept exactly the same. That's because the difference between rhythms in the the quartet has everything to do with the bass drum (kick drum) or "drop". Yes, indeed: the "One Drop" is one of the four we're going to take a look at.

With a BPM set to 130, here are the four foundational Reggae drum rhythms:

STEPPERS

A lot of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) comes with a "Four On The Floor" or "Four Drop" drum beat. The bass drum hits every four counts in the 4/4 bar. In Reggae, this rhythm has the name "Steppers". It's said to have been invented by Sly Dunbar as part of the Studio Bands of Channel One Studio's in Jamaica, and is often used in UK Roots and DUB as well as contemporary Eurodub and other (online) releases. 

It's a powerful, militant rhythm that keeps flowing while in the same time almost instantly catches the attention of people in the dance. This is it:

Steppers Rhythm

LISTEN: EXAMPLE0003.MP3 | EXAMPLE0003.MID

ONE DROP

The second rhythm is the oldest. It's called the "One Drop" because, yes, it only has one drop and that drop happens to be just like the snare, on the third count. I'm by far not an expert on Bob Marley and the Wailers' catalogue but I would bet that the One Drop is the most utilized rhythm in especially the 1970's works of that well known Reggae act. Wailers' drummer Carlton Barret has perfectionized his playing of the rhythm to such an extend that I would consider him to be "Mr. One Drop" where Sly Dunbar is "Mr. Steppers". 

Because most popular Drum rhythms all start with at least a bas drum hit ("drop") on the first count of a bar, the One Drop has that special feel. Many people do not exactly know how to respond in their dance to the One Drop. Check it out:

One Drop Rhythm

LISTEN: EXAMPLE0004.MP3 | EXAMPLE0004.MID

TWO DROP

 

In the early 1980's, a new style called "dancehall" came to exist, with as one of it's center the CHANNEL ONE studio's, with their -then contemporary- house band the "Roots Radics". Some of my favorite Dub albums are from that period: the legendary Greensleeves Series by Scientist. A rhythm very commonly used in this early style of dance hall, is the Two Drop. It has a bass drum hit on the 1st and the 3rd count of every measure. The feel of the two drop is that of an "easy does it", while it definitely goes well together with a pumping bass line. Here is the Two drop in sight and sound:

Two Drop Rhythm

LISTEN: EXAMPLE0005.MP3 | EXAMPLE0005.MID

HALF DROP

The two drop can also be played without putting a bassdrum on the 3rd count: the feel instantly changes, and the beat becomes a bit more "easy listening". There is not a real name for this type of beat, but in Jah Roots everytime we talk about the rhythm, we speak about the "half drop". Therefore I would like to use that term for the rhythm in these chapters. Here is the "Half Drop":

"Half Drop"

LISTEN: EXAMPLE0006.MP3 | EXAMPLE0006.MID

As said earlier, there are variations. One of them is a steppers with a Timbale on the 2nd-2 1/2 and 4rth-4 1/2 count of the bar. Another is a two drop with the first bar having a rim shot doing what the Timbale does in the previous example, where the second bar is a normal two drop. Yet a third one is a steppers with a snare or rim at the half counts after the 2nd and 4th count. You'll get the point: these are variations with obvious knowledge of the four patterns decribed in this chapter.

Another "golden rule" I won't keep for myself here is this: use just one of the four patterns in your tracks. Where a well known live version of Bob Marley and the Wailers' "No Woman No Cry" starts with a One Drop only to go over into a Steppers at a later stage can be done, it is very exceptional. I hear 50 examples of bad usage with every 1 good application of changing patterns. Especially with bands that have some need to expose their musical technicalities to an audience that is not waiting for such things but rather want to have a good time with music that keeps flowing.

Things get even worse when you decide to continually ignore these four basic patterns. Ignorance shows, deliberate ignorance is lethal. In other words, do not expect to know how to make Reggae Music by thinking you're Bob Marley or Sly Dunbar and you can come up with your own rhythms just like that. Reggae is a rhythm more than anything else, and rhythms are simply played according to certain patterns. 

<<<PREVIOUS CHAPTER<<< - MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - >>>NEXT CHAPTER>>>

This tutorial is in an unfinished stage, but it does contain the basics to get yourself equipped to use just about any DAW or even hardware studio in order to make DUB from Reggae Music in the authentic and original way. When you have a question or comment you'd like to see addressed, feel free to use the Dubroom Contact pages or join YUKU.com and post your words publicly on the Studio Forum. Click here to read about the latest updates to this tutorial.

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