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Why is reggae considered "half-time"? Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 31st December 2016
  #1
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Why is reggae considered "half-time"?

When I listen to reggae it sounds slow to my ears yet a tutorial I saw spoke about it being half-time so where to me, the song sounds like 75bpm, it would technically be counted as 150bpm. What is the reason for this? Why not just say 75bpm?
Old 31st December 2016
  #2
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Maybe cos the hihats are twice as fast as the beat in that song? I believe dubstep does this too.
Old 31st December 2016
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeminIAm View Post
Maybe cos the hihats are twice as fast as the beat in that song? I believe dubstep does this too.
They are 16th notes in 4/4 time. That is like saying all 16th note hat grooves on the drum are half-time isn't it?
Old 31st December 2016
  #4
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Does the snare come on beat three? If you count it double speed then is the snare on two and four?

Correction: I meant if you count half the speed then it appears on 2 and 4.

Last edited by Phil0; 1st January 2017 at 10:53 PM.. Reason: error
Old 1st January 2017
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil0 View Post
Does the snare come on beat three? If you count it double speed then is the snare on two and four?
If you count it in half time yes then it would. If you halve the time of any 16th pop groove the same would happen.
Old 1st January 2017
  #6
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So if the song sounds right at 75bpm but the snare is on beat 3 then you could say it has a half time feel.
Old 1st January 2017
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil0 View Post
So if the song sounds right at 75bpm but the snare is on beat 3 then you could say it has a half time feel.
@75bpm it would fall on beat two. @ 150bpm it would fall on beat 3. In reggae it is considered that that the snare does fall on beat 3 whih goes back to my question. Why? Why is it counted in this way since they are just 16th note drum grooves @ 75bpm to my ears .
Old 1st January 2017
  #8
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Sorry I don't feel I'm explaining myself very well.

So when the snare falls on beat 3 -that is considered a half time feel, as normally the back beat would be on 2 and 4. As you mention, snare on beat 3 is quite common in reggae.
Old 2nd January 2017
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil0 View Post
Sorry I don't feel I'm explaining myself very well.

So when the snare falls on beat 3 -that is considered a half time feel, as normally the back beat would be on 2 and 4. As you mention, snare on beat 3 is quite common in reggae.
Does it fall on beat 3? They say it does and if it were in half time then yes it would fall on beat 3. But that goes back to my question of why it is counted that way. You can count it in normal time as well at half the tempo and the snare still falls on beat two as is normal so why is it counted in half time?
Old 2nd January 2017
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil0 View Post
Sorry I don't feel I'm explaining myself very well.

So when the snare falls on beat 3 -that is considered a half time feel, as normally the back beat would be on 2 and 4. As you mention, snare on beat 3 is quite common in reggae.
Does it fall on beat 3? They say it does and if it were in half time then yes it would fall on beat 3. But that goes back to my question of why it is counted that way. You can count it in normal time as well at half the tempo and the snare still falls on beat two as is normal so why is it counted in half time?
Old 2nd January 2017
  #11
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I think the answer is that you can say simply the snare falls on beat 3. It's just convention states it's usually 2 and 4 so therefore placing it on 3 gives it a half time feel.
Often one instrument changes midway through a song to half time when the rest of the band keeps plays the same time. If it happens on drums then the effect is to feel the snare on beat 3 compared to what the rest of the band is playing. Their pulse hasn't changed but the drums are playing half the speed of what they did previously. I think this is where the terminology comes from.
Old 4th January 2017
  #12
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

That's the way my drum teacher explained it to me 20 years ago. The emphasis in rock and roll is beat 2 and 4, and the emphasis in reggae is on beat 3, so it only happens half as often, and if you were to crank it to twice the bpm, they'd line up with where they are in rock. So... in COMPARISON to "typical" pop music, it's "half time" per the same bpm.

Personally, I have great fun with this concept. I've written a couple songs at 146 bpm or so where the verses are some sort of hip hop / reggae hybrid in half-time, and the choruses are some form of dance music at same tempo, but with full time emphasis. Makes for a great combo with severely shifting energy between verse and chorus, but without ever losing the beat. I plan on using this technique more often.
Old 4th January 2017
  #13
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12ax7's Avatar
 

.
Anything can be written in ANY time signature (if ya just wanna prove something).

Sometimes, it just comes down to efficiency:

For instance, some marches for concert or marching bands are written in 6/8 (in order to avoid writing all those triplets). ...However (with a corresponding change in the notation of tempo), the exact same march could very well be written in 4/4 or even "cut-time" (albeit with the use of a bit more more time and ink).

Sometimes, its just a matter of opinion:

For instance, Pink Floyd's "Money" (from Dark Side of the Moon) is generally recognized as being "written" in 7/8 (up 'till when it breaks into 4/4 at the end); however, it could also be seen as being "written" in alternating bars of 3/4 and 4/4.

In the case of "Money", its really kinda academic anyway: I don't think anybody ever really actually wrote it down until AFTER it was already recorded, mixed, mastered, pressed, and shipped.
.
Old 4th January 2017
  #14
Gear Head
 

I'm not sure why or when reggae was referred to as half time but I don't think it matters from a technical standpoint. FWIW I was taught by Jamaican drummers and bass players to count so the snare hits on "3". But on Bob Marley's Waiting in Vain, you can hear Carly Barrett count in at half time (i.e. snare on 2 and 4). Go figure. I personally prefer to work in double time, its much more natural to me but the engineers I work with prefer to work in half time and will convert my sessions if only because the delay presets change (double) when in double time.

Last edited by Sound Bwoi Killa; 4th January 2017 at 08:14 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 5th January 2017
  #15
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

I think the phrase initailly arose to distinguish the "new slowed down" beat that Lea Perry introduced from the more ska-like beat that had predominated in the 60s.
Old 7th January 2017
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sound Bwoi Killa View Post
I'm not sure why or when reggae was referred to as half time but I don't think it matters from a technical standpoint. FWIW I was taught by Jamaican drummers and bass players to count so the snare hits on "3". But on Bob Marley's Waiting in Vain, you can hear Carly Barrett count in at half time (i.e. snare on 2 and 4). Go figure. I personally prefer to work in double time, its much more natural to me but the engineers I work with prefer to work in half time and will convert my sessions if only because the delay presets change (double) when in double time.
There is no reason I can think of why you should count it so the snare falls on 3 except for one and i was going to see if anyone mentioned this but when playing the skank or guitar parts it is very weird to play only on the up beats. It is easier to count the guitar rhythm as down beats and better timing is kept

oh and this is where it is refered to as half time, best video on reggae I have seen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-73ZU5d4loU
Old 7th January 2017
  #17
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I think "Money" by Pink Floyd is actually in 7/4 until changing to 4/4 in the break. I count it 1 2and 3 1 2 3 4.
Old 7th January 2017
  #18
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by weakendwarrior View Post
I think "Money" by Pink Floyd is actually in 7/4 until changing to 4/4 in the break. I count it 1 2and 3 1 2 3 4.
Sure, you can write it that way if you want:

...Just use a quarter-note to represent one beat (instead of an eighth-note, as you would in 7/8).

Just one more way to do it.
Old 7th January 2017
  #19
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Having done quite a bit with various forms of African music and various forms of both duple and triple rhythms, I always thought it was quite arbitrary as to what is considered 12/8 vs 6/8 vs 3/4, etc. I understand the various points about where the emphasis falls, etc, but having spent half my life dealing with numerous forms of music from around the globe that don't have an official written form, and having laid them out on various types of grids for my own purposes, the distinctions always seemed a bit artificial... sort of like trying to force an English translation onto a non-English word that doesn't translate directly.

In the particular case of reggae, though, I guess that's true that there's a specific historical context of the evolution from ska as being a "half time" equivalent of an otherwise similar form of music. Never really thought of it in those terms, but it makes perfect sense. If a ska band suddenly started playing the exact same thing in half-time, the result would more or less be reggae.

It's interesting to see, too, how all sorts of modern pop acts from the Police to Magic! to Ace of Base have played with the concept of our expectation of what reggae is vs alternate interpretations of the rhythmic context. Some more creatively than others, of course.
Old 19th January 2017
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
When I listen to reggae it sounds slow to my ears yet a tutorial I saw spoke about it being half-time so where to me, the song sounds like 75bpm, it would technically be counted as 150bpm. What is the reason for this? Why not just say 75bpm?
who cares? it is what it is. don't get caught up in the dialog
Old 20th January 2017
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomdavids View Post
who cares? it is what it is. don't get caught up in the dialog
Sometimes its interesting to discuss things like this though. For instance I think that the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 is not arbitrary or artificial.
Old 21st January 2017
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomdavids View Post
who cares? it is what it is. don't get caught up in the dialog
that attitude will get you far in life
Old 21st January 2017
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
that attitude will get you far in life

Yeah, POTUS!!



~HW
Old 21st January 2017
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
that attitude will get you far in life
Depends how much weed you smoke
Old 21st January 2017
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
that attitude will get you far in life
Yeah..

...I mean, this IS a SONGWRITING sub-forum, after all.

I would think that this subject would be quite appropriate here.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomdavids View Post
[...] don't get caught up in the dialog.
Well, the best way to avoid getting caught up in the dialog of a thread is to refrain from responding to it.
(...Just sayin'.)
Old 21st January 2017
  #26
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Wait... you mean it's not because the band only remembers to show up to the gig half the time?
Old 21st January 2017
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ain't Nobody View Post
Wait... you mean it's not because the band only remembers to show up to the gig half the time?
your post was completely useless but funny at least
Old 21st January 2017
  #28
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
your post was completely useless but funny at least
More useless than the one pointing out it's uselessness?

And this one pointing out that irony?
Old 21st January 2017
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ain't Nobody View Post
More useless than the one pointing out it's uselessness?

And this one pointing out that irony?
No, about as equally useless as that one and this one too.
Old 22nd January 2017
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
Yeah..

...I mean, this IS a SONGWRITING sub-forum, after all.

I would think that this subject would be quite appropriate here.

Well, the best way to avoid getting caught up in the dialog of a thread is to refrain from responding to it.
(...Just sayin'.)

its not the diolog of the thread boss hogg. its the overanalyzation of theory, its a mind**** and leaves our otherwise creative minds stagnant.

Last edited by Tomdavids; 22nd January 2017 at 05:32 AM.. Reason: said somethin stoopid in there had to erase it
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