Difference Between Ska and Reggae

Both Ska and Reggae are two types of music genre that belongs to Jamaica. Music has always been loved by every people living in the world. You cannot imagine a world without music. Apart from the genres of music, the music industry has evolved way too much in today’s world.


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Music lovers will have the idea of the difference between classic music and the latest music releases. Though there are several categories of music too. Two of the most famous of the 90’s are the Ska and Reggae.

Both these genres belong to the Jamaican country and it is mostly referred to as Jamaican music only. However, since both of these genres have similar history does not mean that they are the same thing.

People often tend to make the mistake of thinking that these two Jamaican music genres are the same.

Ska vs Reggae

The difference between Ska and Reggae is that they both differ in tone, instruments used in it, and also in the music too. So, there is a vast difference between these two genres of Jamaican music. Once you get the difference then you can easily make out which one is which.

Ska vs Reggae

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSkaReggae
Originated fromJamaicanJamaican
Discovered in1950’s1960’s
Rhythm SpeedSka’s rhythm is a bit fasterRegga’s rhythm is slow.
Based onWalking bass line. It is accented with rhythms on the upbeat.Reggae has regular chops on the offbeat.
Beats in musicBeats created are quick, exciting, and they are upbeat.The rhythm created are heavy back-beating.
Instruments usedGuitar, trumpet, drums, piano, organ, saxophone, bass guitar, and saxophone.Reggae’s instruments include guitar, drums, melodica, and organ.

What is Ska?

Ska is a musical genre that was evolved in the 1950’s from Jamaica. The genre was originated from the Caribbean genres like mento and calypso. The Ska musical genre was the precursor to two other musical genres like rocksteady and reggae.

This style of music creates a piece of dancing music by combining elements like calypso and mento with a little bit touch of American jazz and rhythm and blues. The beats created in Ska music are fast and the songs are in a 4/4 time signature.

Ska music was introduced way before then most of the other genres. If you think that the genre is dead in the musical world then you might be wrong because Ska is making a comeback in today’s world.

The genre is becoming popular again and it is being done by The Interrupters by making their hit two years ago named “She’s Kerosene”. People once again loving it and this time the genre has made a huge comeback. The video was going viral all over the internet.

The instruments used in Ska music are guitar, bass guitar, saxophone, trumpet, piano, trombone, drums, and organ. Well, as compared to Reggae music Ska’s music uses a lot of musical instruments. This is the reason why the Ska music is quite identifiable by the walking bass line of the offbeat.

The music created is quite quick and exciting. Well, as compared to Reggae Ska’s music features fast music and the rhythms are accented on the upbeat.


What is Reggae?

Reggae genre music is another music genre that was originated in the Jamaican country back in the 1960’s. Reggae genre music connects the elements of rock and soul music that are performed by moderate tempos with an accent in the offbeat.

The infamous singer, music producer Bob Marley was one of the first artists who had popularized the reggae music genre. The genre might not be as popular as it was before but the music still inspires a number of songs today.

This genre is still famous in its home country and there is no doubt in that.

Reggae music is known to be slow music and the elements used can be recognized easily as the fundamental pieces of the Jamaican originated music.

The reggae music is defined to be in a much broader sense than any other music genre and it is mostly referred to most types of Jamaican music.

The characteristics of reggae genre music are quite different than Ska’s music. Reggae has got a rhythmic-style that has got regular chops in the offbeat music. The beat of the music is much slower and has got a slower tempo but does not have horns.

The instruments used for reggae music are guitar, organs, drums, and melodica. The lead singer of a particular band delivered the melody and along with it, the harmony singers provides the secondary vocal lines.

The reggae music is easily recognised because of its heavy and back-beating, and slow pace. Well, once you start listening to this type of music then you will understand the difference easily.


Main Differences Between Ska and Reggae

  1. Ska music has originated much before than the reggae music. Ska was originated in the 1950’s while reggae music was originated in the 1960’s.
  2. Some famous bands who used ska music were Rude Boy, Mod, Skinhead, and many others. Bob Marley used reggae music and he was the one who popularised reggae music.
  3. Ska music is known for its walking bass line while, reggae, on the other hand, has a rhythmic style with regular chops on the offbeat music.
  4. Ska’s music is fast as compared to reggae’s music. Reggae uses a slow tempo.
  5. Instruments used in ska are much more than reggae’s instruments.


  1. https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/handle/10315/1373
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2307/3399111
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