Dub (music)

Dub is a music production that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Jamaica. Roots reggae songs were used as the raw material, add effects and remixed. Today, the techniques used for this purpose by many music producers are used, especially in the field of electronic dance music.


After the early 1950s in Jamaica a first plate stamping plant had gone into operation, the sound system operators began from 1957 acetate records, so-called dubplates to produce Jamaican R'n'B. The Jamaican Patois expression Dub, an abbreviation for " double", it originally referred to the copying of sound recordings. Dubplates are unique, which were initially intended exclusively for the sound system and use accordingly rare and in demand. For this reason, the term Dub quickly the importance of received exclusive, specially, particularly failed. When it became clear that the dubplates with Jamaican productions were very successful in the sound system, they were released as commercial vinyl pressings on the Jamaican market and soon exported for the Jamaican immigrants to Britain and the USA.

Two other important developments are related to the emergence of dub reggae: The emergence of Rastafari -inspired roots reggae to 1970 and the extension of the available studio in Jamaica technical possibilities.

In the late 1960s it was common practice to publish on the B side of the rocksteady and early reggae singles instrumental arrangements, so-called version of the songs from the A-side. However, the essential characteristic of dub reggae lies not in the fact that produces Instrumental versions were played in the sound system and released as recordings - that was already the case for many of the early Ska productions and then at the B-side version - but rather in the fact that the pieces were further edited in the studio.

An important achievement in the home studio of King Tubby, the most influential engineer of dub reggae, was a discarded four-track mixer, Tubby bought in 1972 from a Jamaican studio. On the four tracks bass, drums, guitar / keyboard and wind instruments or singing were recorded separately and the volume of each track during mixing are independently controlled. After the dub sound engineers initially abmischten original recordings by reggae new pieces as dub versions, it became common during the 1970s to make the riddims known reggae songs re-record studio bands. With these riddims was then - at least in the early days of dub reggae - improvised live at the mixing console.

The 1970s were the heyday of Jamaican dub reggae. Record buyers stayed no longer limited to the singers and producers, but also the names of the engineers, singles with King Tubby version sold particularly well and from 1973 first dub LPs were released. After 1980, took place in Jamaica, however, a turning away from the roots-reggae. In the music scene sparked dancehall reggae with a new generation of DJs and singers, the Rasta -inspired roots reggae from. This means that the heyday of Jamaican dub reggae came to an end.

In the UK, had Jamaican music since the early 1960s, a high priority in the popular music scene. Mid-1970s were very successful in England dub albums like King Tubby Dubbing with the Observer. While in Jamaica dancehall reggae and ragga later 1980s particular, continue to be nurtured and continued the roots-reggae tradition in England of the sound system operator and record producer Jah Shaka. Published between 1980 and 1991 Jah Shaka ten LPs of his dub reggae series Commandments of Dub.

The creation Jah Shaka is the reference point for the roots reggae revival in Britain in the late 80s with start-ups of new sound system (eg Boom Shacka - Lacka ) and Dub projects such as the Disciples or Alpha & Omega. Early 90s jumped the spark of roots reggae revival over to Germany, where have since developed in cities like Hamburg or Cologne active reggae and dub scenes.

In addition to Jah Shaka certain two other British producers and engineers, Adrian Sherwood and Neil Fraser ( Mad Professor ), the development of dub reggae in the '80s. Her work is characterized by both an experimental development of production techniques as well as by a stylistic opening of dub reggae. Basis for this development were personal contacts with musicians from different areas of style. So not only have the activities of Adrian Sherwood for the dub reggae, but in general for the English pop music scene of great importance.

The openness to other styles of popular music continues on a musical level. In the dub productions of Sherwood's On- U Sound label or Mad Professor's Ariwa record label ( with the Dub Me Crazy series from 1982) is taking place not just an evolution of the mixing techniques, but also a conscious stylistic opening.

The influence of dub reggae artists of the trip-hop, which in the first half of the 1990s by musicians and producers from the English Bristol ( Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky ) was initiated, manifests itself both in a Dub - typical sound of many recordings as well as in human contacts that flout since the 1990s within the electronically produced music quite naturally over stylistic boundaries.

So had the Jamaican rocksteady and reggae singer Horace Andy with on Blue Lines (1991 ), the first record success in Bristol producer trio Massive Attack. From the second Massive Attack album Protection ( 1994) Mad Professor produced a dub remix of the title No Protection. Probably this acclaimed Dub - CD is responsible for ensuring that Dub was now also familiar to a wider audience.

In the 1990s, therefore, developed a correlation between dub - reggae and various popular styles of electronic dance music. Dub has since been widely used as stylish overarching mode of production which offers wide reverbs, echo delays and differentiated sound effects as well as by a reduction of the sonic texture ( caused by the showing and hiding of tracks on the mixer and the simultaneous addition or removal of effects - especially of tape delay ) and in addition, there is a bass line in the center of the pieces.


The most important feature of dub reggae since the early dub pieces to hide and redisplay individual recording tracks. While previously the recording tracks could be turned on and off just by pressing a switch at the studio consoles, enabled the early 1970s, developed multi-track mixers with sliders to a continuous volume control for each track.

During else in popular music multitrack mixers are used primarily to add to the existing song by additional recording tracks other instruments or layers of sound dub artists work in the opposite direction: they are concerned with reduction to a thinning of the rhythmic- tonal texture. The sequence of the Dub - pieces is fundamentally shaped by the principle of subtraction, the removal of individual tracks. Although the formal structure of the dub recordings is quite individual, is doing some form of stereotypes have emerged:

At the beginning and end of the piece is heard mostly unaccompanied by bass or drums, a melody line which is carried forward by the singer or of the winds. After a few seconds, this melody is hidden or disappearing into the depths of space. Here begins the rhythmic- melodic backbone of the riddims of bass and drums, which can be heard in many cases without additional instruments.

In the further course of the piece then the instrumental tracks are increasingly flexible fade in and then. There are passages in which only bass or drums resound, where the bass line is sometimes distorted by clipping. However, bass and drums can be hidden. In some passages the rhythm patterns of guitar and keyboard are also heard. The melody of brass and vocals sounds usually only fragmentary. The hiding and showing the individual recording tracks is notably not always in accordance with the relatively simple formal structure of the riddims that far too often two or three different two - or four-bar patterns are repeated and strung together. Instead of dealing with the musical form in dub reggae is very playful. Times the basic formal structure of the pieces is enhanced by the flexible hiding and showing of recording tracks rather, sometimes veiled aware.

Another basic design elements of dub reggae is the constant change of the sound quality of the recordings by the use and the combination of panning control, artificial reverb (Reverb ), echo effects (delay) and sound modulations ( Phaser or Flanger ). Presumably, some of these sound effects were already being used in sound systems before they were used in the studio context. By Panorama control hike sounds of individual instruments and entire groups of instruments from left to right and vice versa, by changing the reverb setting -present from the foreground into the room.

Widely used are reverb effects with blows of bass and snare drum, in which individual pulses of an impact sequence with different echo chambers are provided, while others without blows resound. The combination of reverb and echo device results in a further typical dub effect, in which the echo delays of sounds - for example, individual drum hits - slowly lose deep in the room. Often caused by the setting of the delay time of the delay, an additional polyrhythmic level.

The characteristic sound aura of dub reggae can thus be described as a combination of several dimensions: the rhythmic heaviness and sonic warmth of roots reggae riddims, with the Basslastigkeit of the sound, the slow pace as well and the basic Laid-back feel of Reggae rhythm - related, is enhanced by a strategy of reduction of blanking of individual instruments, the thinning out of the rhythmic and sonic texture. At the same time effected by the effects mentioned a strong spatialization of the sound image.

Due to the riddims that are often based on well-known reggae songs, and because of the fragmentary vocal lines at the beginning of the recordings have a lot of Dub - pieces Rastafarian connotations. In contrast to these religious content, however, are more sound effects and gimmicks that had been used already to some extent in the early sound system: amplifier pops, blows on spring reverb unit and Messtonpiepen be found as well as gunshots, police sirens and cuckoo clocks. Some dub recordings are like the soundtrack of an animated cartoon. A nearby comic strip can also be seen in the design of many record covers ( for example, by Lee Perry, Scientist or Mad Professor ).


The history of Dub was documented in the film Dub Echoes 2007.

Important representatives