Sound Systems - break beats
Sound systems played a major part in creating what would be described as Black Music, covering all genres including house, hip hop, RnB, reggea, drum n bass ....
The sound system entered the UK from Jamaica in 50s to cater for the black audience, as most club owners would not play or even let black people into their clubs. The sound systems played in local venues such as social clubs and school halls. The most noticeable of these sound systems would be COXSONE, VOLCANO, SAXONE and in the 70s came MASTERMIND.
The first 3 played mostly reggea and sound systems refers to the equipment used which in those days was anagloue based rigs which promoters would hire out for their specialist nights.
The black music scene would see a growth when these DJs and MCs (known as toasters, which refers to chatting or mc-ing, in a ragga style, i.e RED RAT) would move from sound systems into the recording studios. Some of these artist are still around today and the pioneers in promoting and distributing these records was and still is JETSTAR RECORDS based in Harlesden North West London.
The sound system was the only way a black audience could socialise and mix with their own culture and hear their black music as most radio stations and clubs would ignore black music. The black community had to and still does rely heavily on their own community to support and keep the scene alive.
Sound systems would also see record releases which named as Dubs or DUBPLATES, which today would be known as a white label with limited copies to test the market.
Sound systems would also see face offs, which is known as a clash, which refers to 2 sound systems battling one another to see who would be the winner and the audiences reactions pointing to the winner.
Sound systems developed a massive following and 1000s would attend these gigs to see live performances from Jamaican artists flown over by the promoters.
Sound systems also developed there own rigs, there speaker boxes all hand made by carpenters, there amplifiers - sometimes each amplifier powering just 1 speaker using crossover circuits to channel the frequencies into each speaker called integrators and differniator to reach maximum noise levels with a bandwidth coverings 20hz(bass) - 20khz(treble).
Sound systems also had members called box-boys which refers to junior members setting up equipment for the senior members and doing all ground work in testing, learning to DJ or MC and would work their way up the ladder.
Sound systems had a very professional approach and saw their set up as a professional money making business, which also saw artist using their services for live events and studio productions.
Promoters would use low cost advertising to inform the local community of their event through bill posting black music magazines and pirate radio stations which reached the entire community.
This was a full time business for the promoters and the sound systems, as they employed their own engineers, accounts, DJ and MCs, the pioneers of a what is known as BLACK MUSIC.....