Taxonomy of Jamaican Music is a site created to display the far-reaching influence that Jamaica has on music and to allow users to explore this from auditory and informational perspectives. The site’s layout consists of nodes which represent musical genres. The nodes are then connected to other nodes which are most closely related. On the right tab a description of the musical genre of the node currently selected displays along with a playlist. A major inspiration in creating this site is to address the lack of awareness of the influence that Jamaican music has had and continues to have on musical genres and cultures worldwide.
I was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved to Boston when I was four. Living in Boston I wasn’t exposed to Jamaican culture to the extent that I would have living in New York, for exmaple. Of course in the household I heard the Jamaican music that my mom played, but at the time I dismissed it as music for parents. It wasn’t until moving to West Palm Beach, Florida that my interest in Jamaican culture grew. In Florida, I met new people who exposed me to aspects of the island’s culture that I’d been completely unaware of. I remember searching YouTube with one friend in particular, looking for clips of old sound clashes as he explained the subtleties of sound system culture and the significance of dubplates to sound clashes.
A conversation another Jamaican friend of mine had with an American co-worker stood out to me. Both were discussing their favorite genres of music; when asked what his favorite type of music was, the young American said ska. His response left my Jamaican friend perplexed, as to her, ska was the type of music her grandmother listened to back in Jamaica. The music that was now being referred to as ska, was third wave ska, a genre of music that gained mainstream success in the mid-1990s. Third wave ska developed after 2 tone made it’s way to America and 2 tone developed through the cultural exchange going on in Britain in the 1970s as many Jamaicans immigrated there, bringing ska music with them. This is just one example of the direct and indirect influence this small island has had over generations and continents.
Enlightenment on Jamaican music, its history and its influences is the primary purpose of this project. For some, reggae is all that comes to mind when thinking of Jamaican music. While Bob Marley is one of the greatest musical artists of our time, since reggae and before it, Jamaica has influenced and continues to affect many genres and subgenres of music, impacting cultures, from style to colloquialism.
Typefaces Garage Gothic and Neue Haas Grotesk