For those who are still alive from those days in the 1950’s and 1960’s,
They will tell you that very few things were better than sound systems.
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That was around the time that for those privileged few who managed to travel overseas to the United States in the 1940’s would get to see these huge individually-built loudspeakers with their own eyes
And come back home to Jamaica to try and replicate what they saw, the other side.
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You are probably asking yourself what a sound system is;
It is basically that set of equipment you see on the stage for playing recorded music, or for making a band’s music able to be heard by everyone at a concert.
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But in Jamaica, they improvised it to be on wheels!
The entire “system” basically comprised of a “truck”, an energy source in form of a generator, a turntable and a set of loud speakers.
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Not forgetting, audio engineers and DJ’s who would ensure the best of sound is gotten out of those devices.
And that would make up for a street party, of sorts!
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Are you wondering why they just could not carry all this equipment to a dancing hall and have their party?
Well, the answer lies with the white people who forced themselves unto the Jamaican people, in the name of colonialism.
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Discrimination must have been really rife to have the original Jamaican people keep away from places like dancing halls where they would otherwise, have played their music with ease, don’t you agree?
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Back to the sound systems,
The rise of music sounds in ska, reggae, dancehall, dub are all heavily attributed to these systems.
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It was either one of those sounds being played, two of them or all of them.
A time came and rhythms and blues were a constant heard emanating from these stacks of loud speakers.
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Have you heard of sound clashes before?
That is alright. Let us expound on them.
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These were battles between respective sound systems and whoever won took the bragging rights with them. (It is no easy task winning one!)
I, for one, really missed out on those times. I would have enjoyed being at these parties where sound systems were.
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These sound clashes, it goes without say, were a very tight competition.
Every sound system had it’s own team of people specializing in delivering on particular tasks handed out to them.
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My deep concern always comes in to those people in charge of “building up” the speaker boxes.
Some of these boxes were in stacks high and wide as 4 metres each….all fitted to particular levels of sound, custom-built amplifiers and speakers as well as making them as “operatable” as possible for their respective DJs’ and MCs’!
Photo credit: TBN Reggae Radio
How did they do all of this?
Is this something that can be replicated, in this day and age of the iTunes and Spotify?
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Wow….those days must have been really nice.
These days, there are songs you listen to play on the home entertainment system and wonder how they sound on such large sound systems!
The thud and boom boom from that gigantic boxes….
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Have you ever seen or heard a sound system play before?