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Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae (Music Culture) Paperback – April 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Veal chronicles how dub music progressed from remixing and altering existing reggae recordings to studio-creating original songs out of music samples, noise, and found sounds. Inventing and developing techniques with effects similar to what turntable scratching and sampling later achieved, Osbourne "King Tubby" Ruddock, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and others paved the way for rap by placing the boasting of "toasters" over bass-heavy charts and fractured soundscapes. Veal traces the development of the drum-and-bass sound central to reggae and dub, noting that "sonically and aesthetically, musicians like DJ Kool Herc," often called the progenitor of rap, "essentially transplanted the Jamaican sound system model" to the Bronx, where it was finally distilled into rap. Drawing on interviews with dub pioneers DJ and producer-recording artist Mikey Dread, Veal posits that dub and hip-hop are "deconstructive compositional strategies" that sensitize "listeners to the microaesthetics of production." Yow! Persuasive if weighty stuff that draws a line of musical development from the studios of Kingston to the bling-encrusted world of hip-hop--and it has a killer discography. Mike Tribby
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"Veal has written the first comprehensive overview of (dub's) development up to and including the digital music that followed dub's analog innovations... Veal does an excellent job of explaining, analyzing, and describing sounds. He also connects dub's influence to hip-hop, dance, electronica, and other modern genres, demonstrating how many dub tricks are still being used today in various incarnations. Readers will especially appreciate Veal's excellent Appendix of Recommended Listening, which includes catalog numbers that will make these recordings easier to find... (T)his is certainly the best and only book on dub music; highly recommended for all academic and public music collections where reggae music is popular." ―Library Journal

“Veal deftly outlines the sociopolitical context in which dub arose, and explains how the cut-corner, make-do economics of the Jamaican record business led to a maximization of materials: song begat deejay version(s) beget dub(s)-at least three products for little more than the price of one... Where Veal's book steals a march on the competition is in his technical analysis of how Tubby, Perry, Thompson, Sylvan Morris, and other mixing engineers adapted (and creatively abused) the equipment in studios... He also analyzes a number of tracks by each of the principal dub engineers under discussion...to show the transformation of song to version and dub, all of which is illuminating...(H)e provides valuable information as to where these tracks may be found... (T)his is an extremely bold and interesting book.”―The Wire

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Product Details

  • Series: Music Culture
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan; annotated edition edition (April 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819565725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819565723
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #495,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Francois Kevorkian on September 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
While there may be some readers grumbling about the author's 'dryness' in this volume, I found it to be a unique and invaluable resource in bringing out many heretofore unknown details of dub production techniques from some of its most revered protagonists.

This book authoritatively helps frame Dub in the greater context of Jamaica's musical and cultural landscape in the second half of the twentieth century, with unique innovations which some would argue has had an immense but vastly under-appreciated impact on the rest of the planet's musical development up to this very moment. The author has managed to provide studio rats such as myself with the luxurious wealth of information that -short of being having been there- some of us had been looking for since first hearing some of these recordings more than a quarter of a century ago, and as such is an invaluable addition to any dub creator's tolbox.

The minute and precise details in which some of this is recounted is a unique asset in helping preserve what has up to now been nothing but soon-to-be-gone and more often than not distorted oral tradition, and its many direct quotes from those key players still alive today will make it a solid historical reference point for those planning to further study this subject for years to come!

It is also welcome and refreshing to read such an account from the writer's African-American perspective, as it brings up many crucial facets of Jamaican music and culture into a sorely needed focus, which up to now has been the province of either ethnomusicologists who for the most part somewhat missed the point, or enthusiasts without the necessary research background and clarity of expression to bring it all together.

There are very few books that arguably helped change one's life. In my case, this is most definitely one of them. It comes with my highest recommendation.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on December 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A book like this is long overdue. The simple fact that it was published makes it good. Of the two most important strains of contemporary black music, hip-hop has generated thousands of books and articles, but dub has been largely ignored by the ethno-musicological world.

Dub - Soundscapes And Shattered Songs In Jamaican Reggae by Yale ethnomusicologist Michael E. Veal, is a scholarly work, but don't let that scare you. I know some of you might dislike the book because of its somewhat academic tone, scoff at many of its themes and find them pretentious, but I strongly disagree. This is a terrific analysis. Prof. Veal examines dub in a variety of contexts not only as an expression of Afro-Caribbean culture and the Jamaican music business but as an art form and creative process comparable to just about every modern, futurist and post-modern movement from dada and surrealism to conceptual art, from Luigi Russolo and John Cage to its influence on hip-hop and worldwide dance-pop culture.

It's not all dry, academic stuff. The man knows, and more importantly, loves his dub music. First, Prof. Veal shows us his dub credentials by going into detail about Jamaican music. But instead of the more familiar reggae legends about impoverished young ghetto singers and gun-toting producers, Veal's emphasis here is on recording studios, audio equipment, and the engineers themselves. After all, dub mixed at the various studios sounded the way it did because of the improvised, often homemade technology the early reggae engineers used. Syd Bucknor, Sylvan Morris, Graeme Goodall and Byron Smith are all mentioned, moving on to Tubby, Errol ET Thompson at Randy's, Channel One etc. There's a lot of interesting information about how JA studios developed during the late 60s and 70s.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By F. M. Coleman on April 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a book written by an academic, but it has applications for anyone interested in this kind of music. After covering the development of modern Jamaican music from independence in 1962 on, he devotes a lot of space to analysis of the different recording strategies used by most of the well-known originators of dub and breaks down individual tracks in some detail, even detailing the specific equipment used by many producers. As someone who records and mixes my own music I found this kind of information really useful and inspiring and it has already caused me to question some of my own creative strategies and techniques. The second half of the book looks at the music in its political and historical context and follows the influences of dub in modern music. A book like this has long been called for. I remember the frustration of talking to young DJs who were all about 'dub' but actually didn't even know the music had originated in Jamaica. Dub was an extraordinary moment in modern music and deserves the seriousness of this treatment. One presumes that had this music originated in Europe they would be devoting university courses to it. Some readers may find the second half of the book a bit dense, but I loved all of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kam-Au Amen on December 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a mind blowing piece of work by Michael Veal. I highly recommend it if you want a well researched account with a detailed analysis of the contribution Jamaica's dub music made to contemporary pop music (hip-hop, techno, house, jungle, ambient, and trip-hop). He argues that it is not overstating the case that this music has changed the way the world conceives of the popular song. Through this book he expertly demonstrates that the production style of Jamaican music has helped transform the sound and structure of world popular music. It is a page turner and well worth the time. I was not disappointed with what I learned and in fact I crave more, I was truly fascinated.
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