"Let's examine this word, 'reggae'..." - Stewart Copeland

  • 17 Comments

In this 1981 interview with Jools Holland, Stewart Copeland gives us a quick history lesson about the backbeat of drums in popular music, starting with early jazz, to Motown to funk.

Taking things a step further, Stewart demonstrates how reggae music uses the backbeat and completely flips it "upside down", placing it on beat 3 with the kick drum.

Not only is this a great primer for the basis of reggae drumming, it also gives an inside look into how Stewart's own "style" has been heavily influenced by the music of the West Indies and South America.

Stewart Copeland

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17 Comments

  • Norma Fraizer explained to me that Carlton Barrett worked in Cuba cutting sugarcane before he joined the Wailers. She said that is where the timbale intros came from in his drumming. I also hear the subtle influence of clave in Carlton’s drumming. He must have spent sometime playing clave based music.

    Steve Michael smith on
  • Mad props to Neil Thomas! Your comment turned a gigawatt lightbulb on over this concept for me, causing it to instantly make perfect sense. All of a sudden I feel like I can play a reggae beat intuitively and shut off the analytical part of my brain.

    Todd Corson on
  • YES greg! Where?
    But more so what about Rich Terrana (I think) The drummer from the marvellous group, The Frightnrs??
    Get that guy to do some loops for the writer that wants more Rocksteady????
    Please….

    Andy Neal on
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    Donny on
  • Simple, brilliant, to the point with no fucking around.

    Daniel BatHeavy on
  • The video was actually part of a longer video shot by Channel 4 in the U.K. while The Police were in Montserrat recording the album “Ghost In The Machine”. Jools also interviews Andy Summers about his use of effects in building his riffs and solos, and discussing songwriting with Sting.

    David Burrows on
  • it’s still a backbeat on 2 and 4, but half-time. the fact that the hihat isn’t half-time means it stays buoyant and light. love it!

    neil thomas on
  • Where are the loop loft Copland Loops????

    greg on
  • My first time seeing the Police (with The Specials opening), I found myself mesmerized by Copeland. While there are no passengers in a trio, his drum fills are what made The Police’s relatively simple song structures so spacious.

    Jackie 42 on
  • My grandfather was a band leader in the 30s, he insisted that “Reggae” was the name of a dance, before it referred to a style of music.

    Anthony on

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