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In dub conference : empathy, groove and technology in Jamaican popular music

Oliver, Rowan


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Dr Rowan Oliver
Senior Lecturer in Music & Director of Music


This chapter will discuss empathic aspects of the way that groove occurs in Jamaican popular music (hereafter ‘JPM’), focusing initially on the stylistically specific relationship between the drums and the bass (as well as other instruments in the ensemble). The scope is then broadened to include the ways in which groove changes when a dub mix of a pre-existing recording (known as a ‘riddim’ in the terminology of JPM) is created. By taking Christopher Small’s (1998) ideas around musicking into account, the empathic understanding that exists between instrumentalists can be extended to include the relationship between performers and listeners, whether in the context of live performance or recorded music. This way of thinking is relevant when considering the impact that the dub mixer’s subsequent actions have on the original groove that is encapsulated in a given riddim. In dub reggae, the sound engineer who creates the dub mix can thus be seen as a vital musicking participant in the distinctive construction of groove, a participant whose empathic relationships – both with other musicians and also stylistic convention – are akin to those found amongst instrumentalists, but which additionally incorporate a significant technological dimension.


Oliver, R. (2017). In dub conference : empathy, groove and technology in Jamaican popular music. In Music and empathy. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Online Publication Date Mar 24, 2017
Publication Date Mar 24, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 18, 2017
Publicly Available Date Sep 25, 2018
Journal Music and empathy
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Series Title SEMPRE studies in the psychology of music
Book Title Music and empathy
Chapter Number 8
ISBN 9781472445803
Keywords Groove
Public URL
Publisher URL Full details of the book are available at


Book chapter (140 Kb)

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©2018 The author. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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