Bob Marley and The Wailers performing ‘Stir it up’ live in 1973. The song was written by Bob Marley in 1967 and it was Marley’s first successful song outside Jamaica.

Bob Marley (1945-1981) was an Jamaican singer, songwriter and musician. He was one of the pioneers of reggae and his contributions to music increased the visibility of Jamaican music worldwide, and made him a global figure in popular culture for over a decade. Reggae is a music genre that developed from a mixture of calypso, jazz and rhythm ‘n’ blues (R’n’B) in Jamaica in the late 1960s. It is characterised by:

  • electric guitars and drums line-up
  • amplified bass guitar riffs – short repeated patterns
  • an association with Rastafarianism – a religious movement worshipping Haile Selassie
  • a rhythm in 4/4 with emphasis on the missing beat
  • use of repeated offbeat quavers
  • use of dub remixing techniques where effects such as delay are added
  • simple chord sequences
  • verse-chorus form
  • political themes in the lyrics

Reggae lyrics are often about struggle, but the music has a laid-back feel. The drums and bass guitar create the rhythm. Listen out for the strong accents on the second and fourth beats of the bar.

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