Rhythm : ( in Jamaican lingo... "ridim" ), that feature of musical composition concerned with periodic accent and duration of notes.
Beat : measured sequence of strokes or sounds, pulsating.
Tempo : timing, rapidity of movement.
An anecdote of a defining moment.
Like most boys of his time Albert George "Clive" Murphy, grew up with the rhythm of his ancestors. And high in the hills of the beautiful parish of St. Mary, Jamaica, he sang and danced to the sensuous music of his country... mento and calypso, and to others also, especially the blues and rockn roll.. But as with all aspects of life, nothing remains the same forever.
Clive moved to the big city of Kingston to further his education, and successfully so. But his love for music grew with ever increasing intensity. We wont go into why, but Clive became hospitalized. This could not dampen his musical spirit, however, and it was on his hospital bed that he wrote the lyrics and composed the melody for the internationally famous "Ride yu donkey".
Of course, this was during the very early sixties, and the musical upbeat rhythm of "SKA" was running rampant in Jamaica and quickly becoming popular worldwide. With SKA... zophrenia, came a big band rivalry unequaled in the annals of the Jamaican musical scene. Names like " The Skatellites, "Byron Lee and the Dragonaires", "Carlos Malcolm", The mighty Vikings and many others. Vocalists like Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, Derrick Morgan, Wilfred Jackie Edwards, Eric Monty Morris, Stranger Cole, duets like the internationally famous Blues Busters...Groups like the Clarendonians, Toots and the Maytals, The Wailers.
Backed by the now internationally famous Skatellites, Clive (now Clive Tennors... his stage name), recorded his first two songs; "Little girl over there" and "Hit yu let yu feel it". Clive's competitive spirit warmed up to the music of the day. What happened next was the defining moment of a new musical experience.. The rhythm carried over to "Ride yu donkey" and with that new "ridim" beat and tempo, Jamaican music was destined never to be the same again. From Ska to this new ridim..."Rock Steady", Reggae slid in with imperceptible ease and smoothness, much like the segue of the slickest DJ.; and as a "roots" music, has remained on the scene ever since. Reggae had arrived, launched with a catalytic kick in the behind from SKA,... it's vibrancy from Rock Steady. Its pulsating throbbing and at times melancholy wails of protest resounded worldwide from reggae greats like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh et al. And now, Reggae, a child of the unforgotten rhythm ...SKA, has maintained its integrity as the most proliferated protest music of all time.
But Clive Tennors never really forgot the launching pad of SKA. To this day, he is still one of the few artistes that performs with nostalgia, ..."SKA"... the music of an era that will certainly never be forgotten in that, the land of its birth, the most beautiful of all islands...JAMAICA.
Written by Anthony G. March. © 1997
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