Reggae gave birth to Dub, an electronic musical genre, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Most regard it as a reggae offshoot, although it has grown to encompass more than the genre itself. This genre generally refers to remixes and alterations of already existing recordings. In this style, producers remove vocal parts of original records, adding studio effects like echo and reverb. They usually emphasize the rhythm section (the minimal drum-and-bass track is sometimes called a riddim).

How the Term Dub Emerged in The Music Industry

The term “dub” is an informal shorthand for the word “double.” It surfaced in the recording context in the latter part of the 1920s with the introduction of “talking pictures” to describe inserting a soundtrack to a movie. The phrase eventually entered the broader world of audio recording during the following 40 years.

Jamaican musicians first used this term when they started to duplicate onto one-off acetate discs frequently. These discs (aka soft wax or Dub and later as dubplates) were for the exclusive use of sound system operators. Playing a track as a complete recording on a sound system had been a good way for a producer to evaluate the potential appeal of a recording before committing to the pressing of hundreds or thousands of copies of mass production.

Notable Legends

Beginning in the late 1960s, recording producers and engineers such as Lee “Scratch” Perry, Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock, Errol Thompson, and others invented Dub. The distinctive-sounding melodica is credited with introducing this genre. Augustus Pablo, who worked with several artists, is one of the genre’s pioneers and founders. Instrumental reggae “versions” produced by different studios were evolving as “dub” as a subgenre of reggae by 1973. The efforts of several independent and competing inventors, engineers, and producers made this genre famous.

In 1970 Derrick Harriott and the Crystallites’ released their groundbreaking album The Undertaker. It was one of the first entirely instrumental reggae albums. Errol Thompson produced it, and Derrick Harriott’s had the “Sound Effects” credit. The popularity of this genre has fluctuated along with changes in musical trends, yet it has continued to develop.


Almost all reggae songs still include an instrumental B-side, and sound systems continue to use these as a canvas for DJs and live performers. As a club music pioneer, the Japanese group Mute Beat produced dub music in 1986, utilizing live instruments like trumpets instead of studio technology. ​​The genre of traditional Dub has persisted, and some of its pioneers, including Lee “Scratch” Perry and Mad Professor, still create new music. New artists still preserve the traditional dub sound, some of whom made minor changes but put their main effort into recreating the sound’s original qualities in a live setting.

Dub music differs significantly from reggae, ska, and other Caribbean and Jamaican music in several significant ways. In the early stages, musicians cut the Reggae songs’ lead voice tracks from dub music. While the genre has changed, musicians still perform with the lack of lead vocals, and this still distinguishes it. Riddim, a drum and bass tune, is a significant part of dub music. Sly and Robbie’s dub and reggae drummer Sly Dunbar refers to drum-and-bass-focused recordings as “dubwise.” Dub producers frequently use sound effects and plugins like echo, reverb, and delay at the mixing board. Dub music, which lacks lead vocals, provides room for toasting, an impromptu type of rapping over a dub song.

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