Made in Jamaica Ep7: Tony The Jamaican Sound System Builder

Watch Tony Myers, co founder of the Jamaica Sound System Federation, join the Made The Jamaica crew talk about his history with sound system culture in Jamaica.

The 1950s brought about the creation of the sound system. The sound system allowed the public, many who did not yet own a radio, the ability to hear the new American R&B, and eventually new local music. What began as a cheaper alternative to employing live musicians, sound systems became instrumental in the creation of an expatriate market for Jamaican music in the US, Canada and especially Britain.

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From making their own speakers to creating the foundation of Jamaica’s music industry, the sound system is at the centre of music and entertainment.

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Within the human element of a sound system, several roles can be isolated which are necessary for a proper performance. These are: sound man (or box man), selector, mixer (or disc-jock), and deejay. Some sound systems also include dancers as part of their performance, but the core roles are the four listed above. The sound man (or box man) role involves the setting up and maintenance of the physical sound system. The selector (or selecta) chooses the records to be played. The mixer (or disc-jock) simply refers to the role of stringing or mixing together various records in sequence.

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