by Kyle Baxter
Anyone who’s a fan of reggae music will know that it was Bob Marley’s historic performance in 1980 that really kick started the music movement on Zim radios and in dancehalls. When the famous reggae performer visited Zimbabwe to celebrate the newfound independence, only three reggae stars had gained popularity in the country, but what has evolved since then has created an interest in not only listening to the music, but producing it as well, with Zimbabwean musicians such as Percy Musa and Mad Mugo infiltrating the scene. Even if you’re not a big-time dancehall musician, however, there are still easy ways in which you can produce reggae music from home.
Whether you’re going to invest in the actual instruments or simply equip a sound library with these specific beats, you’ll need to understand what actually makes up reggae music. In reggae, there are two fundamental drum rhythms and they are generally referred to as rockers and steppers. Bass beats are developed in laid-back fashion and are made up of basic sequences. To accomplish the chop, you’ll need to use a piano or guitar sound, and using a real instrument for this will actually produce a much better, more authentic sound. Guitars and associated accessories such as straps that will help support your guitar better aren’t that expensive in Zimbabwe and will really enhance the quality of your music. A mixing console, however, will be crucial in taking your reggae music to the next level.
As with any worthwhile pursuit, it’s important to start small while you learn the tricks of the trade and work your way up. Record each instrument on a different track and use those to make a basic mix. It’s important to set the levels and equalizing for each track so that they’re all balanced equally. What really sets great reggae music producers apart from amateur ones is the ability to add effects to individual tracks instead of applying them to the song as a whole. This will make a huge difference in the style and quality of your music and will demonstrate your expertise. Keep bass and drums prominent to preserve the crisp sound and try playing with echoes and offbeat rhythms to add a special touch to your tracks.
If you want your reggae music to be heard, you’ll eventually have to release it to the public. This is not only a great way to get exposure, but it will help you improve in your music production skills as you gain more feedback and advice. Sending your music to local radio stations to gain airplay time is pretty easy, as zim Net radio accepts submissions from artists all over the world. In the meantime, continue to practice on your mixing skills and continue listening to reggae music in Zimbabwe and beyond to gain a better understanding of the cultural and musical influences present in the diverse category of music.