Carlton Barrett, One of The Most Innovative Reggae Drummers

Carlton Barrett has been defined as the most innovative reggae drummer. His tumbling tom-toms followed by a high, whip-cracking snare that launched a number of tracks.

For many years, the best drummers helped some of the tom musicians create incredible music. Carlton Barrett was not just a drummer; he was also an inventor who came up with different styles of delivering top-notch musical sounds.

His drumming style makes listeners feel as though he was simply talking to the drums, and they were reacting to the order. This way, he was able to create a unique signature that has been since emulated

Reggae is among the hardest genre to drum for. If you list some of the most popular musicians like Wailers and Bob Marley, he worked with all of them and in their solo bands, delivering excellent results. Barret came up with a “one-drop” music signature, which was very popular with these bands.

Through his efforts, therefore, the drummer was able to make a lot of changes in the industry. Every time he was behind the sticks, he came up with new styles and innovative ideas.

Hence, he knows how to make unique pieces of music for the musicians he was drumming for. And for years, he remained one of the most sort after musicians, encouraging other drummers to become innovative and make their music available on the larger market.

He was nicknamed the “Field Marshal” and worked with his bassist brother Aston “Family man” to build a new genre of music. During his time, it was the only heavy metal rock that ruled the streets. Reggae, on the other hand, required a more subtle but not too soft approach.

So the dup were able to successfully decelerate rocksteady’s rhythm, bringing it into the locked-in in slow grooves that became primary to original roots reggae.

Another incredible approach the drummer used was his signature dry drum sound that can be heard in songs like “Duppy Conqueror,” “Soul Rebel,” and “Small Axe”. This is a unique sound that brings out a more profound feeling within the song. He also came with the triplet-feel hi-hat.

Together, they become the tractor beam that pulled many fans. The drummer was always loved as one of the greatest performers of his generation. He had so much energy, yet he approached the drums with a sense of subtleness, while still producing incredibly loud sounds.  There are very few drummers who could use such a technique and stay relevant.

Before he was killed in 1987 at the age of 36, Barret had largely contributed to the creation of sweet melodies with many reggae artists. To him, drums were not just instrument he stuck to produce sounds; he saw them having a great attachment to culture and society.

When The Modern Drummer interviewed him, he said that “… drums are from the slavery days from Africa; hence it is tied to a lot of history.” Thus, he took every approach to drum with seriousness and respect that would be necessary for delivering the desired results. His contribution is still in effect even today.

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Written by Andrea

Andrea is a music lover and an experienced drummer with more than 15 years of drumming with different bands and music projects, such as Seditius and Hermano & the Marines.

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