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This is Ska (Book)

This Jamaican music book will take you to the glorious decade of Ska and Rocksteady. 60 unpublished scores that you can interpret.

Josep Blanes

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"THIS IS SKA" 60 pure ska pieces

This jamaican music book consists of 60 unpublished sheet music.

All sheet music will be at concert pitch (C)

These are some of the tunes included in the book:

-Ball Of Fire (Roland Alphonso)

-China Town (Don Drummond)

-Freedom Sounds (Tommy Mc Cook)

-Garden Of Love (Don Drummond)

-Guns of Navarone (Roland Alphonso & Ths Skatalites)

The book will be a paper back edition. Below you can read the

marvelous prologue written by David “Dr. Decker” Vilches.

In recent years, much has been said about original Ska and Jamaican music

in general. However, until now no one had the brilliant idea of transcribing to

musical language those pieces that reached us pressed on the groove of incunable

vinyl records. This book covers a space that no one had taken charge

of. With it, nowadays musicians will be able to reproduce and interpret the

sounds of those difficult but glorious years, when Jamaican music entered

modernity generating a recording industry that has not stopped functioning at

full capacity up to this day.

Foto Michell Rivas Canal
Foto Michell Rivas Canal

Jamaica is a small island in the Caribbean that has been battered by pirates

and hurricanes, by corruption and foreign debt, by violence and the compulsive

need to make music. In the arduous years following World War II it remained

under the colonial yoke of the British Empire, and the population struggled

to survive amidst poverty and lack of opportunity. Music was the best of

all balms for them. Even though they were not financially able to buy records,

the music came through American stations in the form of a tasty menu of

rhythm'n'blues, standards, jazz, Latin music and movie soundtracks. The

sound systems were genuinely Jamaican mobile discos that broadcasted that

same menu at open-air dances where selling alcohol was the business but

where the real protagonist was the music. In those dances, the sound systems

competed with each other in order to play the most danced record or

the one that was more sung by the audience, and they sought exclusivity in

their repertoire by tearing off the label of the records that occasional travelers

had brought from Miami or New Orleans. Roscoe Gordon, Louis Jordan, Nat

King Cole and Fats Domino were the order of the day.

China Town - Don Drummond

The first sound systems date from the 1940s and 1950s, and among them

were Sir Coxsone The Downbeat, Duke Reid The Trojan, Tom The Great Sebastian,

V-Rocket or Lord Koos. In their search for uniqueness and originality,

the owners of the sounds soon spotted the need to generate their own music,

reinterpreting in a brilliant way the foreign sounds that they had been consuming

until then. The music makers of Jamaica's incipient recording industry

were a handful of session musicians who would not be recognized for their

work until decades later: Ernest Ranglin (guitar), Cecil Lloyd or Theophilus

Beckford (piano), Val Bennett or Roland Alphonso (alto saxophone), Cluett

Johnson (bass), Don Drummond (trombone)... Many of them came from the

most depressed ghettos, but had received a remarkable musical education at

the Alpha Boys School, an institution for orphaned or disadvantaged children

run by the Sisters of Charity. Some of them, like the brilliant trombonist Don

Drummond, were students at that school and became teachers, instructing

others in the musical virtues. This is the case of Emmanuel Rico Rodriguez,

another pioneer, who is recognized as having been strongly influenced by

Drummond. The most outstanding students alternated or continued their musical

career in orchestras and big bands such as those of Eric Dean or Mapletoft


Also important was the influence of the mento, an indigenous music with rural

roots that had often been confused with calypso. The syncopation of its

rhythm influenced the blues that those musicians began to create in studios

such as the Federal Recording Studio or the premises of local radio stations

such as the JBC (Jamaican Broadcasting Corporation) or RJR (Radio Jamaica

Redifusion), which were often used as recording studios.

Photo Michell Rivas Canal
Photo Michell Rivas Canal

Pioneers in production had been Stanley Motta, who opened one of the first

recording studios in 1951 on Hanover Street, and Ken Khouri, owner of Federal,

also one of the first studios and undoubtedly the most used when recording

ska. Also Ivan Chin and Dada Tuari. All of them had been producing

mento, blues, boogie and other herbs that, little by little, were forming that

tropical amalgam with a soul of blues that would end up becoming ska

around 1962. During the process, the strumming had been played in the second

and fourth beats, unlike American rhythm'n'blues. That syncopation was

strongly emphasized by the stacatto of the guitar, the piano or even the horn

section when they assumed rhythmic roles.

Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid, Prince Buster, King Edwards, Lloyd "Matador"

Daley, Vincent "Randys" Chin, Leslie Kong or Lyndon Pottinger, soon constituted

the first division of producers of the nascent rhythm, which was automatically

associated with the independence from the British monarchy that Jamaica

achieved on August 6, 1962. It was a moment of great euphoria, although

history showed that little or nothing was going to change for ordinary

Jamaicans. The recording studios began to operate at full capacity. Ska was

a kind of fever, and for each session the musicians available at the time were

used: Thomas "Tommy" McCook, Roland Alphonso (tenor sax), Lester Sterling
(alto sax), Johnny "Dizzy" Moore, Oswald "Baba" Brooks, Raymond Harper,

Frank Anderson (trumpet), Don Drummond, Rico Rodriguez, Ron Wilson
(trombone), Ernest Ranglin, "Jah" Jerry (guitar), Jackie Mittoo, Theo Beckford,

Gladstone Anderson (piano), Lloyd Knibb, Arkland "Drumbago" Parks,

Carl McLeod, Aston "Wackie" Henry (drums), Lloyd Brevette (bass) and others.

Down Beat Alley - Don Drummond

Those musicians accompanied all the great ska singers: Laurel Aitken, The

Wailers, Toots & The Maytals, Justin Hinds & The Dominoes, Lord Creator,

Shenley Duffus, Delroy Wilson, Lord Tanamo, Jackie Opel, Millie Small, Derrick

Morgan, Desmond Dekker...

And in their marathon recording sessions, they still found time to tackle instantaneous

cuts in which they could dedicate themselves, at pleasure, to the

jazz incursions that they liked so much. The songs resulting from those recordings

were credited to the leader of the group at the time or to the producer

who financed the sessions, although there were also groups that worked

together regularly, such as Kes Chin & The Souvenirs, Byron Lee & The Dragonaires,

Baba Brooks Band , The Vikings, Carlos Malcolm & His Afro Jamaican

Rhythms, Los Caballeros Orchestra…

But among all of them, The Skatalites can be considered the super band of

the genre and at the same time its purest essence. Their most classic lineup

consisted of McCook, Alphonso, Sterling, Drummond, Moore, Mittoo, Knibb,

Brevette and "Jah" Jerry, although it was not unusual for Ranglin to be recruited

on several occasions. Doreen Shaeffer or Lord Tanamo were some of

their most frequent vocalists when they performed their own show in various

clubs in Kingston or in some of the other main towns on the island.

Jamaican emigrants brought their music with them to the United Kingdom,

the English-speaking area of Canada, and the United States. The neighboring

islands of Jamaica also received their influence, and soon the whole world

became aware of that syncopated blues that wanted to be exported as the

new fashionable dance. But ska was much more than that; the first rhythm of

independent Jamaica and the sound with which the island's recording industry

was born. It was also the prelude to rock steady and reggae, and the music

that conveyed the pride of Jamaicans and their prospects of projecting

and improving their quality of life. A fabulous test bench where the island with

the largest percentage of the population dedicated, in one way or another, to

music, began to walk with firm steps.

Ska had a short life, since around 1966 it began to mutate in a more relaxed

rhythm where the “loose notes” of the double bass (in the manner of the

blues) began to link to form a bass line that would be the backbone of reggae

years later. Rock steady was born; But that is another story.

David “Dr. Decker” Vilches


There are none published yet.

Do you have any other queries or questions?


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  • Joan Humet

    Joan Humet

    about 3 years

    Gran projecte!! Felicitats i espero amb candeletes el llibre!!!

  • genis26@hotmail.com

    [email protected]

    about 3 years


  • Kasy One

    Kasy One

    about 3 years

    Palante! :)

  • Marcos


    about 3 years

    Bon treball....

  • Klikli


    about 3 years

    Vinga ixos molinillooooooosssssss!!!

  • Guillem


    about 3 years

    Felicitats sou uns cracks!

  • Dievushki


    about 3 years

    Endavant amb aquest projecte tan especial!

  • Alex Badalonians

    Alex Badalonians

    about 3 years

    Gran Pepe! More Ska!

  • paupa


    about 3 years


  • juanka


    about 3 years


#04 / Fin de Campaña "This is Ska" (Book)

Buenos días Familia

Hemos llegado al final de la campaña, y quería agradecerles a todos ustedes el apoyo a este bonito proyecto, que será el primer libro de música Jamaicana en este formato.

Lo hemos conseguido, o lo habéis conseguido. Porque sin cada uno de vosotros no se hubiese hecho realidad esto.

Mil gracias de corazón.

Anunciaros que a partir del 20 de septiembre, empezaremos hacer los envíos. Y me pondré en contacto con cada uno de vosotros para concretar tallas camisetas, etc.

Pues eso.

Feliz verano y mucha música en nuestras vidas.

No vemos a la vuelta.

Un fuerte abrazo

#02 / + 300 Compartidos en Redes Sociales


Ya vamos por el 50% del objetivo en solo 4 dias.

Si llegamos a compartir 300 en redes sociales.

TODOS LOS MECENAS se llevarán un link descarga de 15 partituras inéditas en su email.


Gracias a todos, por apoyar este proyecto.


Un fuerte abrazo


Ya quedan muy pocas horas, para el sorteo entre los mecenas que entren a la campaña de This is Ska (Book), durante las 48H

Foto Michell Rivas Canal
Foto Michell Rivas Canal

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