I' am a DJ, I want to make Reggae Remixes but what is actually Reggae Chords. I really don't understand. How can bands like UB40 make such a awesome reggae tracks. I asked few of my friends and they said its Piano Reggae Chords needs to match with the song.

But what is actually Reggae Chords? Are Chords and Notes same thing?

  • 4
    Reggae is more about rhythm than it is about harmony. Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 4:17

2 Answers 2


The best way to understand how bands make reggae tracks is to listen to lots of reggae, paying attention to what each instrument is doing.

The most basic analysis of reggae is this:

  • the bassline is prominent, slightly weighted towards the third beat of each bar.
  • some other mid-to-high range instrument plays staccato chords on the second and fourth beat of each bar. Sometimes it's guitar, sometimes organ, sometimes piano, sometimes something else. This is sometimes called the "skank", because it sounds like that.

If you play a song like "Twist and Shout" emphasising the first and third beats, it will sound like rock. Emphasise the second and fourth, with a skank as above, and it will sound like reggae. There are lots of reggae versions of "Twist and Shout" you could check out to demonstrate this.

Follow this format exactly and you'll end up with a disappointing, lumpen version of reggae. Listen to good reggae and you'll notice how other touches, and simply the swing of it, lift it and improve it.

I suspect when your friends say "reggae chords" they are referring to the skank. Since you mention DJing, I wonder whether you are trying to make reggae by putting skank from one record on the singing from another. This can only work if the two songs have the same chord progression. It's no use having a bass playing E, a piano playing an F chord and a singer singing F sharp; pitches need to sound nice together.

  • That should work, considering how the local music business uses "dub plates" where one musical groove serves as backing of several songs. Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 2:53

I'll start with explaining the basics:

A note is the name of a pitch. (i.e. A, B, C, D, E, F and G)

A chord is a group of 3 or more notes.

There are no actual reggae chords, but any chord can be played with a reggae feel. In fact, most reggae songs only use a few basic chords. The best example of this is Three Little Birds only has three basic chords in A major, D major and E major. These three chords make up countless songs including Here Comes the Sun and Rock and Roll All Night. The difference is the laid back feel of Three Little Birds makes it reggae.

What your friends meant was either the piano was playing the wrong chords for the song or the feel did not go with the song.

Here is a good chord primer if you want to learn more about chords.

  • 1
    @ Dom -George will be turning in his grave - Here Comes the Sun - 3 chords ??
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 9:22
  • @Tim I meant that A major, D major and E major were all in Here Comes the Sun. I know there are more chords I just wanted two contrasting examples to show how different those three chords sound.
    – Dom
    Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 14:53

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