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Dub is a genre of music which grew out of reggae music in the 1960s, and is commonly considered a subgenre, though it has developed to extend beyond the scope of reggae. Music in this genre consists predominantly of instrumental remixes of existing recordings and is achieved by significantly manipulating and reshaping the recordings, usually by removing the vocals from an existing music piece, and emphasizing the drum and bass parts (this stripped down track is sometimes referred to as a 'riddim'). Other techniques include dynamically adding extensive echo, reverb, panoramic delay, and occasional dubbing of vocal or instrumental snippets from the original version or other works.
Dub was pioneered by Osbourne "King Tubby" Ruddock, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Errol Thompson and others in the late 1960s. Similar experiments with recordings at the mixing desk outside of the dancehall environment were also done by producers Clive Chin and Herman Chin Loy. These producers, especially Ruddock and Perry, looked upon the mixing desk as an instrument, manipulating tracks to come up with something new and different. Dub has influenced many genres of music, including rock (most significantly the sub-genre of post-punk and other kinds of punk), pop, hip hop, disco, and later house, techno, ambient, and trip hop. Dub has become a basis for the genres of jungle/drum and bass and dubstep.
In 1968, Kingston, Jamaica sound system operator Rudolph "Ruddy" Redwood went to Duke Reid's Treasure Isle studio to cut a one-off dub plate of The Paragons hit "On The Beach". Engineer Byron Smith left the vocal track out by accident, but Redwood kept the result and played it at his next dance with his deejay Wassy toasting over the rhythm. The instrumental record excited the people at the sound system and they started singing lyrics of the vocal track over the instrumental. The invention was a success, and Ruddy needed to play the instrumental continuously for half an hour to an hour that day. The next day Bunny Lee who was a witness to this, told King Tubby that they needed to make some more instrumental tracks, as "them people love" them, and they dubbed out vocals from "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" by Slim Smith. Because of King Tubby's innovative approach, the resulting instrumental track was more than just a track without a voice – King Tubby interchanged the vocals and the instrumental, playing the vocals first, then playing the riddim, then mixing them together. From this point on, they started to call such tracks "versions". Another source puts 1967 and not 1968 as the initial year of the practice of putting instrumental versions of reggae tracks to the B-side of records.Dub music and toasting introduced a new era of creativity in reggae music. From their beginning, toasting and dub music developed together and influenced each other. The development of sound system culture influenced the development of studio techniques in Jamaica, and the earliest DJs, including Duke Reid and Prince Buster among others, were toasting over instrumental versions of reggae and developing instrumental reggae music.
At Studio One the initial motivation to experiment with instrumental tracks and studio mixing was correcting the riddim until it had a "feel", so a singer, for instance, could comfortably sing over it.
Another reason to experiment with mixing was rivalry among sound systems. Sound systems' sound men wanted the tracks they played at dances to be slightly different each time, so they would order numerous copies of the same record from a studio, each with a different mix.
By 1973, through the efforts of several independent and competitive innovators, engineers, and producers, instrumental reggae "versions" from various studios had evolved into "dub" as a sub-genre of reggae.
Errol Thompson engineered the first strictly instrumental reggae album, entitled The Undertaker by Derrick Harriott and the Crystallites. This album was released in 1970. This innovative album credits "Sound Effects" to Derrick Harriott.
In 1973, at least three producers, Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Aquarius studio engineer/producer team of Herman Chin Loy and Errol Thompson simultaneously recognized that there was an active market for this new "dub" sound and consequently they started to release the first albums strictly consisting of dub. Lee Perry released Blackboard Jungle Dubin the spring of 1973. It is considered a landmark recording of this genre.
In 1974, Keith Hudson released his classic Pick a Dub, widely considered to have been the first deliberately thematic dub album, with tracks specifically mixed in the dub style for the purpose of appearing together on an LP, and King Tubby released his two debut albums At the Grass Roots of Dub and Surrounded by the Dreads at the National Arena.
Dub has continued to evolve, its popularity waxing and waning with changes in musical fashion. Almost all reggae singles still carry an instrumental version on the B-side and these are still used by the sound systems as a blank canvas for live singers and DJs.
In 1981 the Japanese band Mute Beat would create dub music using live instruments such as trumpets rather than studio equipment, and became a precursor to the acid jazz,ambient and trip hop music genres. They collaborated with numerous Jamaican artists such as King Tubby, Lee Perry and Gladstone Anderson amongst others and became a large influence upon future dub musicians.
In the 1980s, Britain became a new centre for dub production with Mikey Dread, Mad Professor and Jah Shaka being the most famous. It was also the time when dub made its influence known in the work of harder edged, experimental producers such as Mikey Dread with UB40 and The Clash, Adrian Sherwood and the roster of artists on his On-U Sound label. Many bands characterized as post-punk were heavily influenced by dub. Better-known bands such as The Police, The Clash and UB40 helped popularize Dub, with UB40s Present Arms In Dub album being the first dub album to hit the UK top 40.
Side by side with Reggae at this time (early 1980s) running B side dub mixes, American post-disco/R&B 12 inch singles started to arrive with alternative dub mixes (records such as The Peech Boys' "Don't Make Me Wait," Toney Lee's "Reach Up," and many more artists on labels such as Prelude, RFC, and West End. Often these dub versions raised the beat of the record and made them easier to mix together one after the other, or to pick out key sections to play over other records, heightening the dancefloor effect.
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