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Sound Tapes

Page history last edited by kalcidis 15 years, 4 months ago

Sound tapes are cassettes (nowadays often also on digital formats) with recordings of dance sessions. They are also known as dance tapes and even as yard tapes outside of Jamaica.


The practise started in the 70's with the advent of relatively cheap tape recorders and cassettes. People used to bring their boom-boxes/tape recorders and record sound system events. The earliest sound tapes were often with poor sound quality since almost only bass could be heard (drowning everything else) and also the noise of the people in the direct surrounding of the boom box.


In the early 80's more sophisticated sound equipment resulted in better sounding sound tapes and now there would often be sound tapes circulating where the recording device would have been connected to the sound systems mixing desks - providing notably clearer sound. The popularity of the tapes and the better sound quality also resulted in some sessions being pressed on vinyl. The first LP with a live dancehall session was Yellowman & Fathead's "Live At Aces" (Jah Guidance) from '82 (1).


Many sound systems encouraged the recording of these tapes as the name of a sound system spread and people not only in Jamaica would hear a sound thus creating a market for different sounds to tour outside of JA.  As the popularity of sound tapes grew and boom-boxes became more common the occurrence of people taping sessions also increased. So many sound systems started taking pay for the boom-boxes brought with to a dance. After a dance session the tapes would be copied with tape-dubbing machines and sold or traded for other sessions. The sound tapes did not only serve as vehicle to spread the fame of sound systems but also many artist could brake through due to these recordings even before having released a song. Most notably was the pioneering deejay Brigadier Jerry who was one of the highest rated deejays in the early 80's with only a handful releases to his name. The circulation of his tapes still spread the name and his influence could be heard on many deejays from near and a far. There was also a backside to the fast spreading and circulation of tapes. Deejays would often have to find new lyrics because people in an entirely different part of Jamaica (OR the world!) could have heard the newest and freshest lyrics in a matter of hours or days. This resulting in many chatters being inspired by tapes they've heard and perhaps even putting the lyrics to vinyl before the originators themselves had the time to do so. Outside of Jamaican (such as England) the "yard tapes"  where important in hearing the newest songs, styles and directions the music would take. During the 80's and forward video recordings started to appear. This due to the advent of the video and video recorder.


Sources * Dancehall - The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture, Beth Lesser (Soul Jazz), 2008. (1) The Rough Guide to Reggae 3rd edition pg. 257

Comments (4)

kalcidis said

at 11:23 pm on Feb 2, 2009

I think perhaps mentioning on some legendary sound tapes could be worth on this one. Also of course the article needs a re-reading and an expansion. I do not know what to add more for the moment.

redman said

at 5:45 pm on Feb 23, 2009

Nice one Kal. I've done a bit on this but mostly just tidied up. the new editting format doesn't seem to sit neatly with the old codes which is likely to be an issue... Sorry I've been quiet recently. it's frustratin waiting for the proper version to launch.

kalcidis said

at 10:21 pm on Feb 23, 2009

I know Tim. But spoke to Micke just some days ago and he was going to get rumpus kickin with it. If I only knew how to do this myself :/

kalcidis said

at 10:25 pm on Feb 23, 2009

I've fixed the links. It seems that the links in this version are done by clicking the icon with a globe and a link on. Then you either choose a page or write the name of the page it's supposed to link to.

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