Musicians Guide to Ska Music

The birth of Ska was the result of many influences of other genres. Some believe that much Jamaican music is merely the result of badly-tuned radios, and the inability of reception for various jazz and R&B songs eventually became Jamaican music as we know it, including Reggae.

With accentuated guitar and piano rhythms, Ska took off with studios like Studio One. The origin of the term Ska is uncertain, but most reject the notion that it came from the Skatalites, a group that signed with Studio One. Another record company arose called 2 Tone, which started combining ska with other forms of music. Out of the 2 Tone era came a peak of ska music in the UK that started at the end of the seventies. One these British bands was Madness, whose hit “Our House” was on the charts (both U.K. and American). Madness didn’t really have any hits after that, but their crazy videos were fan favorites on MTV.

Ska had a second peak almost twenty years later, in the 1990s. Even though they were not “pure” ska bands, their music had a definite ska influence. Groups such as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones covered several hits, and came up with their own in a style known as ska-core. Greater success was achieved with No Doubt in 1995, as “Just a Girl” and “Spiderwebs” were major hits.

Some say that ska has hit its peak, but its influence still remains. One of the biggest bands, The Toasters, still tours today. There are also many ska festivals, but it will be doubtful that pure ska will have a revival.