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Royalty Free Reggae Instrumentals

Reggae Instrumentals for artists, singers.
Produced with high quality equipment from a top selling music producer.

What’s Reggae exactly?

Reggae is the most famous of a whole interconnected family of Jamaican musical genres. The most important of these genres are skarocksteadyreggaedub, and dancehall. There are numerous subgenres and specific eras within these genres, but they should be understood as a family of musical styles that make up the amazing tapestry of Jamaican popular music.

What Does Reggae Music Sound Like?

Reggae music combines the intensity of soul music, the light touch of ska, and the spiritual center of Jamaican mento. The music is famed for the rhythmic patterns heard in percussion, bass lines, and rhythm guitar parts. The three principle reggae rhythms are:

  • Steppers: Similar to the American “four on the floor” feel, this beat features a steady quarter-note pulse on the bass drum, often doubled by the bass guitar. “Red, Gold, and Green” by Burning Spear is a strong example of the steppers beat.
  • Rockers: The rockers beat also emphasizes four quarter notes per bar, but it offers more space for syncopation. The rockers beat is closely associated with the rhythm section of Sly and Robbie, who helped develop the famous “rub-a-dub” sound. “Sponji Reggae” by Black Uhuru is another strong example of the rockers beat, thanks to its 4/4 pulse combined with offbeat syncopations.
  • One drop: The one-drop beat features a steady sixteenth-note pulse (like American funk music) with a backbeat accent from the kick drum and snare drum. It takes its name from the song “One Drop” by Bob Marley & The Wailers.

6 Essential Reggae Instruments

Reggae bands use the same core instrumentation as American rhythm and blues bands. The most common reggae instruments are:

  1. drums
  2. bass guitar
  3. electric guitar (many bands have both a rhythm guitar and lead guitar player)
  4. keyboard
  5. lead vocals
  6. horn section (or synth horns)

Contemporary reggae offshoots like reggaeton, dancehall, and drum and bass often use synthesizers and drum machines.

History of Reggae Music

Reggae music began in Jamaica, but it quickly spread around the world.

  • Origin in the ’60s: Reggae takes its name from the 1968 single “Do the Reggay” by Toots and the Maytals. That same year, songs like “Nanny Goat” by Larry Marshall, “No More Heartaches” by The Beltones, “Israelites” by Desmond Dekker, and “People Funny Boy” by Lee “Scratch” Perry broke big in Kingston and helped establish reggae as a key form of Jamaican popular music.
  • Rise of Bob Marley: Perhaps the most famous reggae band, Bob Marley & The Wailers, formed in 1963 and was initially known for its ska and dancehall hits, inspired by contemporary bands like The Skatalites. But as reggae took off, singer-songwriter Marley, guitarist Peter Tosh, percussionist Bunny Wailer, and bass guitar player Aston Barrett embraced the genre and produced a string of hits like the albums Burnin‘ (1973) and Exodus (1977).
  • International popularity: The Wailers reached an international audience when Eric Clapton covered “I Shot the Sheriff,” penned by Marley, in 1974. Other reggae stars of the 1970s include Jimmy Cliff (famous for “The Harder They Come”), and the American Johnny Nash (who scored a major hit with “I Can See Clearly Now”). Roots reggae bands have thrived outside of Jamaica; the English bands Steel Pulse and UB40 have enjoyed notable fame. Famous reggae producers include King Tubby, Coxsone Dodd, and Lee “Scratch” Perry, who was as famous behind the boards as he was in front of the microphone.
  • Lasting influence: Offshoots of reggae include lovers rock, dancehall, ragga, jungle, toasting, sound systems, drum and bass, and dub music. Contemporary reggae fusion subgenres include reggaeton, seggae, two-tone, samba reggae, and reggaestep. Some of these genres are even more popular in cities like New York, Miami, and London than they are in Kingston.
ub40 band
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