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Sound Systems

Manchester Caribbean Carnival - Sound Systems

Sound Systems
The Sound System concept first became popular in the 1940s, in the parish of Kingston. DJs would load up a truck with a generator, turntables, and huge speakers and set up street parties. Tom the Great Sebastian, founded by Chinese-Jamaican businessman Tom Wong, was the first commercially successful sound system and influenced many sound systems that came later on. In the beginning, the DJs played American rhythm and blues music, but as time progressed and more local music was created, the sound migrated to a local flavour.

By the mid-1950s, sound systems were more popular at parties than live musicians, and by the second half of the decade, custom-built systems began to appear from the workshops of specialists such as Hedley Jones, who constructed wardrobe-sized speaker cabinets known as a "House of Joy". The culture of the Sound System was brought to the UK with the mass immigration of Jamaicans in the 1960s and 1970s. Notable UK Sound Systems include Sir Coxsone Outernational, Jah Shaka, Channel One, Aba Shanti-i, Jungleman, President, Iration Steppas, Fatman International and Saxon Studio International.
Manchester Caribbean Carnival - Sound Systems
Manchester Caribbean Carnival - Sound System Culture - Earth Rocker
Sound Systems were the method in which these migrants were able to maintain their cultural connection with their roots. Sound Systems broadcast the remixed samples of Reggae beats and created an underground music culture. This culture was separate from the larger population which relied on the radio to provide popular music. Sound Systems were played in warehouses, clubs, and street corners. This was not simply just music played on the radio for a few people to hear, but a culture that involved many people was developed out of being consumed by sound through huge sound systems.

Sound System has also played an influential role in the global influence of Jamaican music internationally. It has proved itself to be one of the most efficient of musical distribution mechanisms, which has resulted in Jamaican music's influence on genres such as Hip hop, Jungle, and Dubstep. While part of its influence can literally be credited to its superior audio fidelity over radio, the Sound System also acts as a symbolic transmitter of shared experiences across the African diaspora.

Manchester Caribbean Carnival - Sound System Culture