Guitar Organ Course 1

Welcome to the Art of Reggae Organ Course 1. The Hammond organ helped to define the sound of roots reggae music as it was developed in the mid 1960’s in Jamaica. The organ has a vast range of expression and is used in three main roles, 1) as a melodic instrument playing melodies and lead lines, 2) playing background ‘pads’ or long chordal tones designed to give an overall feel and emotion to a section of a tune, 3) as a keeper of rhythm. For this course we are focusing on the organ in its deeply rhythmic role where certain repetitive rhythms are played to the chord changes of the song. The organ plays the chop rhythm similar to the piano and guitar but more importantly there is another rhythm it plays that provides a certain harmonic and rhythmic glue that is called the BUBBLE, or SHUFFLE. We are going to explore the many bubble and chop combinations that are most commonly played. This course welcomes all levels of keyboardists.

In this course you will learn:
– The bubble (also known as the shuffle) and its origins
– The Hammond organ and how to make digital keyboards sound like the Hammond
– Hi and Lo tone bubble
– The whistle bubble
– The mento bubble
– The sine wave and flute bubble
– The double and triple chop
– The stab
– The Bad Card bubble
– Applying everything to the swing and straight 8th feel
– Using a keyboard split with piano and organ sounds
– Glissandos
– Switching the role of each hand

Most keyboardists today do not have access to a real Hammond organ but modern digital technology has done a great job at re-creating the organ sound. Examples will be given on both a Hammond organ and a digital keyboard throughout this course.

We are using 9 ‘originals’ songs for examples in this course. All of them are accessible as a practice loop with the keyboard parts muted in the KEYBOARD PRACTICE LOOPS section. It is highly recommended that you jam along with these to practice any of the concepts you are learning. They will challenge you to play in different keys with different feels. The loops can be slowed down to 75% of their original speed.

Each lesson has a PDF file or two that show various concepts in standard notation. Because this music is primarily shared and taught orally, it’s not absolutely essential that you view the PDF’s but even to a beginning level music reader, they will be very helpful.

Lastly, don’t forget, as explained in the “How To Practice” intro video, make sure you have your notebook ready to go. Time to learn!




Here is an interesting article Matt wrote for Berklee Today magazine that relates the reggae bubble to similar patterns used in blues and Afro-Cuban music.

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