The Origins of Dub Music: Producers, DJs and Studio Engineers

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Driven by the creativity of producers, DJs and studio engineers Check out The Origins of Dub Music.

This Jamaican musical culture is responsible for forming a key bridge between studio and club. This influence can be felt worldwide. The creativity of the foundation is using double decks, bring a MC, toaster or deejay – who would ‘rap/chat’ intros to records, and the first to remix instrumental tracks, (infact the instrumental intself was pioneered by this culture). This process eventually became to be known as ‘dub’.

Jamaican studioheads/dancehalls pioneered the whole elctronic, rap and remix culture, as well as formulating blueprint of dance music – the huge sound systems, the booming car systems, the personality dj, you know the dub culture.

The origins of dub music embodies creativity of the producers, djs and engineers, driven by intense competition in the dancehall arena and the desire to be respected for having the hottest sh!#. You know the streets are!

Enough fluff... let's get to the meat of the origins of dub music....

In the 1960s, producers like Coxsone Dodd and Duke Reid would cut custom dub plates for the leading sounds, before the official release date, so that they try out the music and gauge crowd's response.

By the late sixties, sound systems like Ruddy’s Supreme Ruler Of Sound, was one of a few which used the productions of Reid and Dodd. This was before they started public sales of the dub plates. Ruddy Redwood, the owner of Ruddy’s Supreme, said one day he was in Duke Reid’s studio when he heard engineer Byron Smith play a tune by the Paragons, except Smith left out the vocal track this highlights the origins of dub music.

Ruddy, then demanded Smith cut him a plate of the track. He played in a dancehall and it got a good reaction so Ruddy then proceed to cut his own versions – initially they were called ‘instrumentals’ – of all Reid’s top rock steady tunes. He also had guitar man Lynn Taitt play on some of them, thus further impressing his brand on the music.

All of the other sound systems followed this method. The sound owned by Osbourne ‘Tubby’ Ruddock, took it further and brought along a DJ U-Roy to chat over the ‘soft wax’ or, more commonly, ‘dub plates’. By 1972, many producers were taking their tracks, done in Randy’s or Dynamic Studios, to the studio that Tubby built in his sister’s house in the Waterhouse section of Kingston. By the end of 1972, Tubby’s friend Bunny Lee had helped to negociate the purchase of the old four-track mixing board from Dynamic Studios, which was upgrading to a new sixteen-track board. This was another cruial moment in the origins of dub music. With the four-track mixing board, Tubby was ready. He proceeded to mix dubs for every sound system and, using delay and reverb effects, he set a key formula that would become synonmous with the genre through the 1970s onward. This formula was copied by newer studios like Channel One and Joe Gibbs.

It's hard to address the origins of dub music without highlighting the the competiton ecause that is what drove the music to prominence. The competiton ensued because of the audiences insatiable appetite.

King Tubby always seemed to have the edge. Some prominent players were Errol Thompson (at Randy’s and later at Joe Gibbs studio), producer Lee Perry (Black Ark studio), producer/engineer Ossie Hibbert (at Gibbs and Channel One studio) There were engineers such as Maximillian, Crucial Bunny or Solgie Hamilton. These players came to prominence later in the 1970s at Channel One.

Throughout the latter part of the 1970s, people continued to drive the musical method. Duke Reid’s nephew (engineer Errol Brown) dug into his uncle’s rock-steady classics for a memorable series of dub albums for producer Sonia Pottinger. This is before he became the main engineer at Tuff Gong studio in the 1980s. The veteran Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd released a some dubs man words can't say... let's just say cruial. These featuring the instrumental ‘versions’ from the foundation studio. These albums tend to rely more on the classic status of the tune rather than innovation or drama of the mix that King Tubby and his acolytes, Prince Phillip, Prince Jammy, Scientist and Professor used. Hundreds of dub albums were released, accompanied by thousands of B-side mixes. The process then went international, in that period to with producers like Dennis Bovell and Mad Professor in the UK soon following the lead of the Jamaican originators.

Tubby eventually stopped mixing dub at his old studio by early 1982. The technique still persisted and found new practioners to carry these musical methods. A new generation of engineers still produce dub in the UK and worldwide. Dub still continues to influence, both directly and indirectly, modern ‘dance’ music in many forms, from ‘drum and bass’ to ‘dub mixes’ which are played on the rave and other club scene.

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