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Jamaican popular music and dance style. It originated in the mid-1960s as a music of the Jamaican poor, reflecting social discontent and the Rastafarian movement. Its instrumentation features an electric bass played at high volume as a lead instrument, around which an ensemble of organ, piano, drums, and lead and rhythm electric guitars plays short ostinato phrases with regular accents on the offbeats. Reggae was popularized in the U.S. by the film The Harder They Come (1973), starring the singer Jimmy Cliff, and through tours by Bob Marley and the Wailers and by Toots (Hibbert) and the Maytals, whose influence was felt among white rock musicians.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on reggae, visit Britannica.com.