How dub came to be.

On a basic level the word “dub” is synonymous with “remix” or "instrumental" but it is also used to describe a genre of music and a production style. A good way to understand all three is through the history of the production style. The concept of dub production starts with Jamaican sound systems (a few men in Jamaica owned the equipment, sound systems, to throw large outdoor DJ based dances) of the fifties and sixties. The music played at these dances was first Ska which gave way to the more soulful and relaxed Rock Steady, which added the offbeat chucking guitar sound which can be heard in most Jamaican music afterwards.

One of the performers, and the owner of the 'Home Town Hi-Fi' sound system, was Osbourne Ruddock aka King Tubby who added reverb and delay while Djing and had become a stand-out in the scene from this. The players in the scene, Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd, both formed bands and hired singers to record songs to be pressed as one off acetates so their DJs would have something fresh to play that no one had heard before. These were called dubs or dub plates and are still an important part of DJ culture today. Tubby pressed acetates for Reid at Treasure Island Studios and the story goes that, by accident, Tubby forgot to mix in the vocal track before he cut it and really liked the results and began to experiment. These instrumental ‘versions’ mixed with Tubbies long delays and reverbs is where dub music began to take shape.

Dodds and Reid were already forming house bands and recording them for DJs to play so it only made sense that these men would go on to create studios and start record labels. King Tubby worked with Duke Reid at Treasure Island Studio and Lee Scratch Perry joined Dodds (whose sound system he was already Djing for) at Studio One. In 1972 Tubby left Reid and began his own studio where he experimented with instrumentals and building his own effects and equipment (He used to run a radio repair shop). Tubby and Perry (Perry had been through two studios and produced the best of the Wailers music at this point) released 'Blackboard Jungle' in 1973 which featured the famous modified mixer which Tubby fitted with his own sliders and homemade reverb and delay boxes as well as other effects and weirdness which can only be speculated.


Dub came from Djing and the idea of mixing songs together (using sliders to bring indiviual tracks in and out mix rather than records) one after the other so the music was continuos and Perry and Tubby were big Djs. Tubby started making instrumentals as well as tracks with just vocals and mixing the two togther which the crowd loved. Perry and Tubby became in house producers for emerging rock steady and reggae production and began experimenting with effects. They would come togther to create the instrumental spaced out reverby sound of dub. This is not a history of dub music, its meant to be an explanation of the Phenomena of dub, other people like Augustus Pablo, Bunny Lee the musicians in the bands that were being recorded like Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare (who I believe also messed around with electronics for production sake) were a big part of the musics genesis.

The information for this node is from my collection of information from linear notes, one big reference library trip and sites all over the Internet, especially the two below. Steve Barrow is a name that sticks out for me. as well rumor and stories that dub fans share. if you think something is wrong, spelling or information or want to share some information with me please do.