How to Play a Reggae Sound on the Piano

Written by marysia walcerz | 13/05/2017
How to Play a Reggae Sound on the Piano
The piano was originally a traditional reggae instrument, until it was superseded by the keyboard. (piano image by Sergey Goruppa from

Reggae music is a music style that was first developed in Jamaica in the 1960s. Although the piano isn't heard in reggae music as often as the guitar or drums, it still has a place within the traditional reggae sound. The keyboard is more commonly seen in reggae music, which means there's a wide variety of sheet music than can be easily translated to be played on the piano. The piano or keyboard is often used to "fatten" the beat of the rhythm guitar, so follow the chord progression of the guitar when you begin playing reggae music on the piano.

Purchase a book of reggae piano sheet music to practice with. Use reggae keyboard sheet music if you can't find reggae sheet music specifically for piano.

Listen to and study reggae music that strongly incorporates the piano and keyboard, such as Pablo Black, Ansel Collins, Firehouse Crew, Bob Marley and the Wailers, and Robbie Lyn. Play along with tracks that you own sheet music for, or can play by ear to develop your sense of the reggae musical style.

Follow the chord progression of the rhythm guitar. Some reggae music "fattens" the rhythm guitar with a piano, so as you begin to acquaint yourself with the reggae musical style, follow the rhythm guitar line on the piano.

Put emphasis on the second and fourth beat of each bar, until you can master the "bubbling" technique.

Learn the "bubbling" technique of reggae piano by playing on all four beats of a bar, and also in between each beat, playing a total of eight beats per four-beat bar. Use your right hand to play on the beat, and your left hand to play in between the beats.

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