Dub Revolution

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Dub Revolution

The Story of Jamaican Dub Reggae and Its Legacy


This is dub revolution . . . music to rock the nation.

-Lee ìScratchî Perry

In the modern age of electronic music, the word ìdubî has become a buzzword for virtually any style of music that utilizes the remixing of prerecorded sound as a mode of artistic expression. The idea of taking apart the various instruments and components that make up a recording and remixing them into something that sounds completely different is a common practice today, being used in various styles of music such as jungle, house, hip-hop, and even metal. It is often overlooked, however, that the dub technique and style originated in Jamaican rocksteady and reggae. The great sound system engineers of Jamaica in the late 1960s and early 1970s pioneered the instrumental remix and were the first to make the style popular. Using only primitive recording and mixing equipment, the mixing engineer took a lead role in defining the sound of the recording, using the mixing board as his instrument. The resulting dub craze that occurred in Jamaica in the mid 1970s further established the mixing engineer as an artist. For the first time in recorded music, the ìsoundî of a recording become connected not only with the musicians and the producer, but with the mixing engineer as well. Dub became a tradition and a part of the musical culture in Jamaica. The proliferation of instrumental mixes, known as ìversions,î as well as radically remixed ìdubsî that resulted opened the doors to a vast new field of musical expression that would eventually be embraced not only by Jamaican music but by popular music all over the world.

The story of how all of this happened in Jamaica is a fascinating tale of the unique cultural and socioeconomic setting in which the Jamaican music industry produced some of the most influential music ever recorded. This essay explores the evolution of dub reggae in Jamaica and the contributions of some of its most innovative pioneers, as well as the influence that dub reggae has had in the development of other styles of music. Finally it will analyze the sound of the music itself and how it is created, which will be supplemented by a sampling of some dub recordings.


To truly understand the origins of dub reggae, one must first understand the nature of the Jamaican music scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the role of the dancehall in Jamaican music.
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