The music issuing from the Caribbean Island of Jamaica has for decades and many will argue even longer demonstrate a uniquely Jamaican identity. This personality arises from a complex intermingling of diverse cultures, unforgivable power structures, passionate religious expressions, not to mention the late twentieth century pressures of global capitalism. Though many characters both principal and complimentary have passed away amid this cultural evolution, a musical lineage bears witness to the island's history. The functionality of music couples with a theme of collective participation. The audience is active and essential to the music. The music does not exist without significant involvement of work, dance, song or clapping of hands.
This essay will focus on cultural themes in Jamaica's colonial history, which contributed to the retention of African forms of musical expression. The goal is to learn something about the process of change itself, a fact of life which stands in contradiction to all efforts at preservation. Music is inherently a synthesis and communicator of cultural experience, reflections on the life of music within the island community of Jamaica can only lead to a clearer understanding of cultural phenomena and it's impact on family. This will be accomplished by reviewing several themes such as slavery, resistance and rebellion, religion, and preservation as they pertain to a distinctly African heritage resplendent in early Jamaican music. .
Music revolves around a dance beat, with an upbeat rhythm. This has survived over many years beneath the surface as in Mintz's theory of culture. These messages and rhythm have been passed down in families for centuries. Music has a social impact on all audiences, as it deals with issues that may be difficult to otherwise communicate. It can be used to unite groups of people and bring them closer together through a common message or theme.