Recording Studio: Despite the tiny size of the island, Jamaican recording studio music has long been a powerful force on a global scale. Even ignoring the deity that is Bob Marley and his reggae legacy, the island boasts a wealth of extraordinarily popular genres such as dancehall and dub, as well as having a long history of folk music, and lesser known, yet highly influential genres such as mento.
Recording Studio: Maroons & The Bongo Nation
Following the arrival of first Columbus, followed by the Spanish, and then Oliver Cromwell’s navy, the island’s indigenous population of Arawaks were soon wiped out. Small numbers of African slaves who had been armed by the Spaniards and instructed to defend the island against the British fled to the hills – where to this day, their descendants, the Maroons live in secluded communities. Their percussive style of music is difficult to find on recording, but still forms a vital part of the life of Maroons, as it is used in possession ceremonies.
Colonisation bought plantations to Jamaica – which were then thrown into turmoil by 1838’s abolition of slavery. To get around the new laws, plantation owners began secretly trading slaves of Angolan descent – who are the people behind the Bongo Nation, the people behind kumina religion and musical style which is not dissimilar to Maroon music.
Recording Studio: Rastafari
Given that it makes up a relatively small proportion of the island’s population, the influence of Rastafari religion on Jamaican musical culture, both locally and globally, is way out of proportion. Rastas hold reasoning sessions, in which they discuss religion, life, and politics, and smoke plenty of marijuana . These events are called grounations and, like any religious gathering, music is an important part of celebrations. Foot-stamping and slow drumming feature heavily. Count Ossie was a master Rasta drummer, and his band, Count Ossie and his Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, have made some extremely compelling recordings of grounations, which also feature players who went on to play with The Skatalites – showing the profound influence of Rastafari on Jamaican musical culture.