Ska stroke

Reggae downstroke pattern[1] Play .
Though notated with quarter notes, the Ska stroke sounds like sixteenth notes due to muting or dampening.[1]
Reggae upstroke pattern[2] Play .
Skank guitar rhythm often considered "'the' reggae beat"[3] Play straight  or  Play shuffle .
Skank at different harmonic rhythms
Reggae guitar pattern[4]  Play 
Reggae guitar pattern[4]  Play 
Ska guitar pattern[4]  Play 

The ska stroke or ska upstroke, skank or bang, is a guitar strumming technique that is used mostly in the performance of ska, rocksteady, and reggae music.[5] "Reggae is most easily recognized by...the skank."[6] Ska strokes serve as a rhythmic base to a song, and may be doubled by the drums. This style of playing has a dance associated with it, the skank. In reggae, the guitar usually plays a short, percussive, "scratchy chop sound [chord]," on beats 2 and 4 (1234), often supported by staccato piano (late 1960s to the early 1980s) or synthesizer.[7]  Play 

Ska strokes create a bouncing rhythm, going up then down in pitch.[5] Played in 4/4 time (𝄆1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 𝄇), the chosen guitar chord is played on the downbeat (#'s rather than &'s), and then a ghost note is played on the upbeat (&'s rather than #'s) by lifting the left hand off the fret a few millimeters.[5] However most traditional ska is focused on the upbeat, playing on the downbeat is more closely associated with reggae, where the ska strokes are played much slower as opposed to ska.

Double-time: ||:1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & :||
Common-time: ||:1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 :||
Half-time  : ||:1234123412341234:||


The first use of the ska stroke has been attributed to guitarists including Ernest Ranglin.[8]

See also


  1. 1 2 Snyder, Jerry (1999). Jerry Snyder's Guitar School, p.28. ISBN 0-7390-0260-0.
  2. Snyder (1999), p.29.
  3. Bassford, Andy (2004). "Reggae: Jamaican Grooves", How to Play Rhythm Guitar, p.72. Hal Leonard. Johnston, Richard; ed. ISBN 0-87930-811-7.
  4. 1 2 3 Peretz, Jeff (2003). Zen and the Art of Guitar: A Path to Guitar Mastery, p.37. Alfred Music. ISBN 9780739028179.
  5. 1 2 3 (2013). Smithsonian Music: The Definitive Visual History, p.349. ISBN 9781465421265.
  6. Hombach, Jean-Pierre (2010). Bob Marley the Father of Music, p.14. ISBN 9781471620454.
  7. Hombach (2010), p.21.
  8. DiMartino, Dave (2016). Music in the 20th Century, p.528. Routledge. ISBN 9781317464297.

External links

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