List of Reggae Music genres

The Music Genres List site covers many of the most popular styles of reggae music, we hope this becomes the definitive list of reggae music genres on the Internet, send an email to add @ musicgenreslist dot com if you feel any reggae music genres are missing and we’ll add to complete the music list.


  • Dancehall
  • Dub
  • Roots Reggae
  • Ska

History of Reggae Music Genre

Reggae’s origins are in traditional African and Caribbean music; American rhythm and blues; and in Jamaican ska and rocksteady. In 1963, Coxsone Dodd of Studio One asked Jackie Mittoo (pianist of The Skatalites) to run recording sessions and compose original music. Mittoo, with the help of drummer Lloyd Knibbs, turned the traditional ska beat into reggae by slowing down the tempo.

Bob Marley, who played an important role in popularizing reggae worldwide, recorded ska, rocksteady, and nyabinghi-drumming records early in his career. The word reggae may have been first used by the ska band Toots and the Maytals, in the title of their 1968 hit Do the Reggay.

The Oxford English Dictionary says the origin of the word is unknown, but may be derived from the Jamaican-English word rege-rege, meaning quarrel. Other theories are that the term came from the word streggae (a Jamaican slang term for prostitute) or that it originated from the term Regga, which was a Bantu-speaking tribe from Lake Tanganyika.

By the late 1960s, reggae was getting radio play in the United Kingdom on John Peel’s radio show, and Peel continued to play much reggae during his career. Reggae has always had a fairly large following in the United Kingdom, especially during the 1970s and 1980s.

In the second half of the 1970s, the UK punk rock scene was starting to take off, and some punk DJs played reggae records during their DJ sets. Certain punk bands, such as The Clash, The Slits and The Ruts incorporated reggae influences into their music. Reggae includes several subgenres, such as roots reggae, dub, lovers rock and dancehall.

Musical characteristics of Reggae

Reggae is always played in 4/4 time or swing time because the symmetrical rhythm pattern does not lend itself to other time signatures such as 3/4 time.

Harmonically, the music is often very simple, and sometimes a whole song will have no more than one or two chords.

The Bob Marley and the Wailers song “Exodus” is almost entirely comprised of A-minor chords. These simple repetitious chord structures add to the hypnotic effect that reggae sometimes has. However, Marley also wrote more complex chord structures, and the band Steel Pulse have often used very complex chord structures.

Note: Reggae is not spelled Raggae, reggea or reggay – popular mispellings 🙂

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