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The Musician’s Guide to Caribbean Rhythms

The twentieth century saw the rise of a
musical revolution: rhythm.  

With the introduction of new music styles like jazz, blues, and later rock and roll, melody and harmony not became the main target of the music. In the fashionable age, the mark of an awesome composer was the shirking of traditional music and the coordination of syncopated drum beats, thumping basslines, and multiculturalism. 

One of the crucial exciting spectrums of rhythms to be introduced to america was the panoply of Caribbean rhythms: reggae, calypso, rumba, reggaeton, bachata, there’s hardly a beat from the Caribbean that hasn’t revolutionized the way in which we take a look at music. 

Within the twenty first century, Caribbean rhythms rule. Hip-hop has dominated pop music for the past ten years, and lots of the world’s hottest musicians outside of the genre similar to Ariana Grande, The Imagine Dragons, Ed Sheeran, are clearly influenced by hip-hop. And that is not all, one of the dominant forces in experimental music, Death Grips, works within the hip-hop idiom.

And where does hip-hop come from but Afro-Caribbean music? For those who’re a musician within the twenty first century, you will have to master these rhythms. This text will show you ways. 

Know the Styles

To master the music of the Caribbean and work it into your artistry, it is vital not to simply know what the styles are, but to dig into their particulars. Let’s get into a number of the hottest styles.


Ska, as of late, is commonly mistaken for “third-wave ska”, or “ska-punk”, that energetic horn-based music by bands like Reel Big Fish. Nevertheless, ska has roots much deeper than punk rock. 

Ska is the premise of reggae and rocksteady music. Ska is the reality and the roots, and you’ll want to master its rhythms to grow as a musician. 

Take a look at this compilation of
60’s ska music. You will notice that an extreme emphasis is dedicated to rhythm — songs often don’t change chords in any respect, as an alternative, specializing in the trance-like rhythms. The half-spoken vocals were clearly very influential on rap music. 

Hearken to the way in which the composition of ska songs develops by the introduction of new rhythms and instruments, relatively than changes in melody. How will you work this into your songs? How will you simplify? 


Reggae is a sort of music made most famous by Bob Marley, however it goes much deeper than that. Notice the slowed rhythms of
reggae music, and the way they evolved from Ska. How will you take older types of music and transform them? 

Ska music was already easy, but reggae stripped it back even further. Gone were the fast tempos and flashy horns. As an alternative, the main target was placed on deep, booming bass, and subtle organ/guitar parts. You possibly can already hear contemporary kinds of music like trap developing here. 


Here, the
minimization and emphasis on rhythm go even further. Natural sounds are switched out for trippy, reverbed effects. Songs often go a protracted time with none vocals — many do not feature vocals in any respect. 

In dub, we see the emphasis on bass and drums constructing even further. Many sections of those songs deal with the interplay of bass and edited drums, very similar to hip-hop music. It’s only when other instruments are available in that you just realize you are within the ’70s and ’80s. 

Also, notice the way in which that instruments fade out and in artificially, as if a DJ is bringing them up and down in the combination. This move away from natural transitions is incredibly necessary in modern music. 

For those who consider yourself a rock and roller, listen up. Many punk-rockers post-punkers of the early ’80s loved dub music. You possibly can hear the influence in bands like Gang of 4, Public Image LTD, and
The Slits


Dub music has a large influence in Latin American countries within the introduction of the “reggaeton” sort of music. Reggaeton quickly crossed over with its infectious beat, to develop into a particularly necessary style in hip-hop music. 

You almost certainly recall
this song from 2010, which swept the world. You possibly can see why the upbeat, party-style of this rhythm became so popular. 
However it hasn’t let up on the world just yet. Just a number of years ago, Luis Fonzi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber had successful with the
reggaeton song Despacito


This street festival that features art, dance and music is enjoyed by hundreds in The Bahamas. Following the tradition of West African culture, the goat skinned drum provides the guts beat and flow of the key procession through the streets. Accompannied by the syncopated rhythms of bells, whisltes and horns, the energy of the assorted participating groups is infectious.

Popular Bahamian bands like, “The Begining Of The End” , “T- Connection” , and grammy award winning, the “Baha-Men” have met some international success while fusing the Junkanoo genre with Pop, and Funk.

Work It In 

We will go on all day about several types of influential Caribbean music. Nevertheless, should you develop into accustomed to those listed above, you may surely improve your base of information. Start working the influence in, whether you need to proceed within the genre listed above, innovate a new genre, or just sample the sound into your latest track. 

Take a look at a few of our musicians, to see how
they’ve pushed the genre along. This offers you basis for understanding where you may go and what you may do.

Step one to working in a lot of these music is to hearken to them religiously. It won’t be quite as exciting to you as the newest releases, but developing an appreciation for these items is like contemporary screenwriting learning to like Shakespeare. This music will give you a powerful basis and never allow you to down. 

Once you have listened to a wide range of this music, you may begin to develop favorite songs and artists. Explore these songs and artists further, and work out exactly what you want about them versus others. By doing this research, you may higher have the opportunity to grasp the subtleties that go into this deceptively easy sort of music. 

After this, you are only a step away from handling your individual Caribbean-influenced songs. 

Caribbean Rhythms Are In every single place 

There aren’t any two ways about it — Caribbean rhythms are a few of crucial influences of the twentieth century. Without them, we would not have funk, disco, hip-hop, and so lots of our favourite musicians we hearken to today.

As a musician, it is your responsibility to master these rhythms, to extend your talent as an artist. 

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