Music of Jamaica

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The music of Jamaica includes Jamaican folk music and many popular genres, such as mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub music, dancehall, reggae fusion and related styles.

Jamaica Country in the Caribbean

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola.

Mento is a style of Jamaican folk music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. It is a fusion of African rhythmic elements and European elements, which reached his peak popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. Mento typically features acoustic instruments, such as acoustic guitar, banjo, hand drums, and the rhumba box — a large mbira in the shape of a box that can be sat on while played. The rhumba box carries the bass part of the music.

Ska is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. It combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. Ska is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the off beat. It was developed in Jamaica in the 1960s when Prince Buster, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, and Duke Reid formed sound systems to play American rhythm and blues and then began recording their own songs. In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with British mods. Later it became popular with many skinheads.

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Reggae is especially popular through the international fame of Bob Marley. Jamaican music's influence on music styles in other countries includes the practice of toasting, which was brought to New York City and evolved into rapping. British genres such as Lovers rock, jungle music and grime are also influenced by Jamaican music.

Bob Marley Jamaican singer-songwriter

Robert Nesta Marley, OM was a Jamaican singer and songwriter. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae, his musical career was marked by blending elements of reggae, ska, and rocksteady, as well as forging a smooth and distinctive vocal and songwriting style. Marley's contributions to music increased the visibility of Jamaican music worldwide, and made him a global figure in popular culture for over a decade.

In Jamaican music, a deejay (DJ) is a reggae or dancehall musician who sings and "toasts" to an instrumental riddim.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Music of Jamaica
General topics
Related articles
Genres
Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthem Jamaica, Land We Love
Regional music

Mento

Mento is a style of Jamaican music that predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. Mento typically features acoustic instruments, such as acoustic guitar, banjo, hand drums, and the rhumba box—a large mbira in the shape of a box that can be sat on while played. The rhumba box carries the bass part of the music. Lord Flea and Count Lasher are two of the more successful mento artists. Well-known mento songs include Day-O, Jamaica Farewell and Linstead Market.

Reggae Music genre from Jamaica

Reggae is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its diaspora. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals, "Do the Reggay" was the first popular song to use the word "reggae", effectively naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience. While sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to most types of popular Jamaican dance music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that was strongly influenced by traditional mento as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues, especially the New Orleans R&B practiced by Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint, and evolved out of the earlier genres ska and rocksteady. Reggae usually relates news, social gossip, and political comment. Reggae spread into a commercialized jazz field, being known first as "Rudie Blues", then "Ska", later "Blue Beat", and "Rock Steady". It is instantly recognizable from the counterpoint between the bass and drum downbeat, and the offbeat rhythm section. The immediate origins of reggae were in ska and rocksteady; from the latter, reggae took over the use of the bass as a percussion instrument.

Classical guitar acoustic wooden guitar with wide neck, strings made of nylon

The classical guitar is a member of the guitar family used in classical music. An acoustic wooden string instrument with strings made of gut or nylon, it is a precursor of the acoustic and electric guitars which use metal strings. The name guitar comes from Persian language, in which Tar means string. Tar is also the name of an Iranian instrument that could be the primary form of guitar. Classical guitars are derived from the Spanish vihuela and gittern in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, which later evolved into the seventeenth and eighteenth century Baroque guitar and later the modern classical guitar in the mid nineteenth century.

Banjo musical instrument

The banjo is a four-, five-, or six-stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity as a resonator, called the head, which is typically circular. The membrane is typically made of plastic, although animal skin is still occasionally used. Early forms of the instrument were fashioned by Africans in the United States, adapted from African instruments of similar design. The banjo is frequently associated with folk, Irish traditional, and country music. Banjo can also be used in some rock songs. Many rock bands, such as The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and The Allman Brothers, have used the five-string banjo in some of their songs. Historically, the banjo occupied a central place in African-American traditional music and the folk culture of rural whites before entering the mainstream via the minstrel shows of the 19th century. The banjo, along with the fiddle, is a mainstay of American old-time music. It is also very frequently used in traditional ("trad") jazz.

Meanto is often confused with calypso, a musical form from Trinidad and Tobago.

Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago during the early to mid-19th century and eventually spread to the rest of the Caribbean Antilles and Venezuela by the mid-20th century. Its rhythms can be traced back to West African Kaiso and the arrival of French planters and their slaves from the French Antilles in the 18th century.

Trinidad and Tobago Island country in the Caribbean Sea

Trinidad and Tobago, officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is a twin island country that is the southernmost nation of the West Indies in the Caribbean. It is situated 130 kilometres south of Grenada off the northern edge of the South American mainland, 11 kilometres off the coast of northeastern Venezuela. It shares maritime boundaries with Barbados to the northeast, Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the northwest, Guyana to the southeast, and Venezuela to the south and west.

Calypso

As in many Anglo-Caribbean Caribbean islands, the calypso music of Trinidad & Tobago has become part of the culture of Jamaica. Jamaica's own local music mento is often confused with calypso music. Although the two share many similarities, they are separate and distinct musical forms. During the mid-20th century, mento was conflated with calypso, and mento was frequently referred to as calypso, kalypso and mento calypso; mento singers frequently used calypso songs and techniques. As in calypso, mento uses topical lyrics with a humorous slant, commenting on poverty and other social issues. Sexual innuendos are also common.

Jamaican culture consists of the religion, norms, values, and lifestyle that define the people of Jamaica. The culture is mixed, with an ethnically diverse society, stemming from a history of inhabitants beginning with the original Taino people. The Spaniards originally brought slavery to Jamaica. Then they were overthrown by the English. Jamaica later gained emancipation on August 1, 1838, and independence from the British on August 6, 1962. Black slaves became the dominant cultural force as they suffered and resisted the harsh conditions of forced labour. After the abolition of slavery, Chinese and Indian migrants were transported to the island as indentured workers, bringing with them ideas from the Far East. These contributions resulted in a diversity that affected the language, music, dance, religion, and social norms and practices of the Jamaicans.

The Trinidadian calypso and soca music are popular in Jamaica. Popular calypso/soca artists from Jamaica include Byron Lee, Fab 5, and Lovindeer. Harry Belafonte (born in the U.S., raised in Jamaica from age 5 to 13) introduced American audiences to calypso music (which had originated in Trinidad and Tobago in the early 20th century), and Belafonte was dubbed the "King of Calypso".

Soca music is a genre of music that originated within a marginalized subculture in Trinidad and Tobago in the early 1970s, and developed into a range of styles by the 1980s and later. Soca was initially developed by Lord Shorty in the early 1970s in an effort to revive traditional calypso, the popularity of which had been flagging amongst younger generations in Trinidad by the start of the 1970s due to the rise in popularity of reggae from Jamaica and soul and funk from USA. Soca is an offshoot of kaiso/calypso, with influences from Latin, cadence, funk and soul.

Byron Lee, OJ, CD, born Byron Aloysius St. Elmo Lee, was a Jamaican musician, record producer, and entrepreneur, best known for his work as leader of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires.

Harry Belafonte American singer

Harry Belafonte is an American singer, songwriter, activist, and actor. One of the most successful Jamaican-American pop stars in history, he was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) is the first million-selling LP by a single artist. Belafonte is perhaps best known for singing "The Banana Boat Song", with its signature lyric "Day-O". He has recorded in many genres, including blues, folk, gospel, show tunes, and American standards. He has also starred in several films, most notably in Otto Preminger's hit musical Carmen Jones (1954), Island in the Sun (1957), and Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).

Jazz

From early in the 20th century, Jamaica produced many notable jazz musicians. In this development the enlightened policy of the Alpha Boys School in Kingston, which provided training and encouragement in music education for its pupils, was very influential. Also significant was the brass band tradition of the island, strengthened by opportunities for musical work and training in military contexts. However, limited scope for making a career playing jazz in Jamaica resulted in many local jazz musicians leaving the island to settle in London or in the United States.

Among the most notable Jamaican jazz instrumentalists who made successful careers abroad was alto saxophonist Joe Harriott, now regarded internationally as one of the most original and innovative of jazz composers. Also internationally successful were trumpeters Dizzy Reece, Leslie 'Jiver' Hutchinson and Leslie Thompson, bassist Coleridge Goode, guitarist Ernest Ranglin and pianist Monty Alexander.

Harriott, Goode, Hutchinson and Thompson built their careers in London, along with many other instrumentalists, such as pianist Yorke de Souza and the outstanding saxophonist Bertie King, who later returned to Jamaica and formed a mento-style band. Reece and Alexander worked in the US. Saxophonist Wilton 'Bogey' Gaynair settled in Germany working mainly with Kurt Edelhagen's orchestra

Ska

Ska is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. The first ever ska recording was made by Count Ossie, a Nyabhingi drummer from the rasta community. [1] It is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the upbeat. In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with British mods. Later it became popular with many skinheads.

Music historians typically divide the history of ska into three periods: the original Jamaican scene of the 1960s (First Wave), the English 2 Tone ska revival of the late 1970s (Second Wave) and the third wave ska movement, which started in the 1980s (Third Wave) and rose to popularity in the US in the 1990s. The recent revival of Jamaican Jazz attempts to bring back the sound of early Jamaican music artists of the late 1950s.

DJs and toasting

Along with the rise of ska came the popularity of deejays such as Sir Lord Comic, King Stitt and pioneer Count Matchuki, who began talking stylistically over the rhythms of popular songs at sound systems. In Jamaican music, the Deejay is the one who talks (known elsewhere as the MC) and the selector is the person who chooses the records. The popularity of Deejays as an essential component of the sound system, and created a need for instrumental songs, as well as instrumental versions of popular vocal songs.

Toasting is a type of lyrical chanting over the beat. While Dancehall music involves deejays, they are the ones chanting or humming over the rhythm or track. Although chanting over beats may seem primitive, the tradition originates in most African based music traditions. With the rise of many different genres, toasting became popular in Jamaica during the 1960s and 1970s.

In the late 1960s, producers such as King Tubby and Lee Perry began stripping the vocals away from tracks recorded for sound system parties. With the bare beats and bass playing and the lead instruments dropping in and out of the mix, Deejays began toasting, or delivering humorous and often provoking jabs at fellow deejays and local celebrities. Over time, toasting became an increasingly complex activity, and became as big a draw as the dance beats played behind it.

The basic elements of hip-hop—boasting raps, rival posses, uptown throwdowns, and political commentary—were all present in Trinidadian music referred to as Extempo Wars as long ago as the 1800s, though they did not reach the form of commercial recordings until the 1920s and 30s. Calypso like other forms of music continued to evolve through the 50s and 60s. When rocksteady and reggae bands looked to make their music a form of national and even international black resistance, they took calypso's example. [2] Calypso itself, like Jamaican music, moved back and forth between the predominance of boasting and toasting songs packed with 'slackness' and sexual innuendo and a more topical, political, 'conscious' style.

Rocksteady

Rocksteady was the music of Jamaica's rude boys by the mid-1960s, when The Wailers and The Clarendonians dominated the charts. Desmond Dekker's "007" brought international attention to the new genre. The mix put heavy emphasis on the bass line, as opposed to ska's strong horn section, and the rhythm guitar began playing on the upbeat. Session musicians like Supersonics, Soul Vendors, Jets and Jackie Mittoo (of the Skatalites) became popular during this period.

Reggae

Reggae is one of few music genres first created in Jamaica. In the late 1960s, around the same time of toasting, reggae began to expand and infiltrate the ears and bodies of countless Jamaicans. The genre stems from early Ska and Rocksteady, but also has its own style of Jamaican authenticity, speaking about life ups and downs. Bob Marley is the most renowned reggae entrepreneur and still considers to have hits today.

In the late 1960s reggae emerged as a reinterpretation of American rhythm and blues. Reggae became popular around the world, due in large part to the international success of artists like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. Marley was viewed as a Rastafarian messianic figure by some fans, particularly throughout the Caribbean, Africa, and among Native Americans and Australian Aborigines. His lyrics about love, redemption and natural beauty captivated audiences, and he gained headlines for negotiating truces between the two opposing Jamaican political parties (at the One Love Concert), led by Michael Manley (PNP) and Edward Seaga.

Dub

By 1973, dub music had emerged as a distinct reggae genre, and heralded the dawn of the remix. Developed by record producers such as Lee "Scratch" Perry and King Tubby, dub featured previously recorded songs remixed with prominence on the bass. Often the lead instruments and vocals would drop in and out of the mix, sometimes processed heavily with studio effects. King Tubby's advantage came from his intimate knowledge with audio gear, and his ability to build his own sound systems and recording studios that were superior to the competition. He became famous for his remixes of recordings made by others, as well as those he recorded in his own studio.

Other 1970s developments

Other popular music forms that arose during the 1970s include: Briton (Linton Kwesi Johnson's dub poetry); Sly & Robbie's rockers reggae, which drew on Augustus Pablo's melodica, becoming popular with artists such as The Mighty Diamonds and The Gladiators; Joe Gibbs' mellower rockers reggae, including music by Culture and Dennis Brown; Burning Spear's distinctive style, as represented by the albums Marcus Garvey and Man in the Hills ; and harmonic, spiritually oriented Rasta music like that of The Abyssinians, Black Uhuru and Third World. In 1975, Louisa Mark had a hit with "Caught You in a Lie", beginning a trend of British performers making romantic, ballad-oriented reggae called lovers rock.

Reggae and ska had a massive influence on British punk rock and new wave bands of the 1970s, such as The Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, The Police, The Slits, and The Ruts. Ska revival bands such as The Specials, Madness and The Selecter developed the 2 Tone genre.

Dancehall and ragga

During the 1980s, the most popular music styles in Jamaica were dancehall and ragga. Dancehall is essentially speechifying with musical accompaniment, including a basic drum beat (most often played on electric drums). The lyrics moved away from the political and spiritual lyrics popular in the 1970s and concentrate more on less serious issues. Ragga is characterized by the use of computerized beats and sequenced melodic tracks.

Ragga is usually said to have been invented with the song "Under Mi Sleng Teng" by Wayne Smith. Ragga barely edged out dancehall as the dominant form of Jamaican music in the 1980s. DJ Shabba Ranks and vocalist team Chaka Demus and Pliers proved more enduring than the competition, and helped inspire an updated version of the rude boy culture called raggamuffin.

Dancehall was sometimes violent in lyrical content, and several rival performers made headlines with their feuds across Jamaica (most notably Beenie Man versus Bounty Killer). Dancehall emerged from pioneering recordings in the late 1970s by Barrington Levy, with Roots Radics backing and Junjo Lawes as producer. The Roots Radics were the pre-eminent backing band for the dancehall style. Yellowman, Ini Kamoze, Charlie Chaplin and General Echo helped popularize the style along with producers like Sugar Minott.

The 1980s saw a rise in reggae music from outside of Jamaica. During this time, reggae particularly influenced African popular music, where Sonny Okusuns, John Chibadura, Lucky Dube and Alpha Blondy became stars. The 1980s saw the end of the dub era in Jamaica, although dub has remained a popular and influential style in the UK, and to a lesser extent throughout Europe and the US. Dub in the 1980s and 1990s has merged with electronic music.

The late 2000s saw large local success for dancehall artists like Popcaan, Vybz Kartel, Konshens, Mr. Vegas and Mavado. By the late 2010s, music in Western markets saw influences of dancehall in pop music, including Drake's "One Dance" and "Controlla" (2016) and Rihanna's "Work" (2016).

Reggae fusion

Reggae fusion emerged as a popular subgenre in the late 1990s. It is a mixture of reggae or dancehall with elements of other genres such as hip hop, R&B, jazz, rock 'n roll or indie rock. [3] It is closely related to ragga music. It originated in Jamaica, North America and Europe. Reggae fusion artists from Jamaica with a #1 U.S. Billboard Hot 100 hit include Ini Kamoze with "Here Comes the Hotstepper" in 1994, Super Cat (featured on Sugar Ray's song "Fly"), Shaggy (2 #1 hits, like "Angel"), Rikrok (featured on Shaggy's song "It Wasn't Me"), Sean Paul (3 #1 hits, like "Get Busy"), Sean Kingston with "Beautiful Girls" in 2007, and OMI (singer) with "Cheerleader" in 2015. All are from Kingston, except Ini Kamoze, Rikrok, and OMI.

Non-Rastafarian Jamaican religious music

The Bongo Nation is a distinct group of Jamaicans possibly descended from the Congo. They are known for Kumina, which refers to both a religion and a form of music. Kumina's distinctive drumming style became one of the roots of Rastafarian drumming, itself the source of the distinctive Jamaican rhythm heard in ska, rocksteady and reggae. The modern intertwining of Jamaican religion and music can be traced back to the 1860s, when the Pocomania and Revival Zion churches drew on African traditions, and incorporated music into almost every facet of worship. Later, this trend spread into Hindu communities, resulting in baccra music.

The spread of Rastafari into urban Jamaica in the 1960s transformed the Jamaican music scene, which incorporated drumming (played at grounation ceremonies) and which has led to today's popular music. Many of the above-mentioned music and dance have been styliled by Prof. Rex Nettleford artistic director (ret, prof and vice chancellor of The University of the West Indies) and Marjorie Whyle Musical Director (Caribbean Musicologist, pianist, drummer, arranger lecturer at the University of the West Indies). Since 1962, this volunteer company of dancers and musicians have had many of these dances in its core repertoire and have performed worldwide to large audiences, including The British Royal family.

Other developments

Other trends included minimalist digital tracks, which began with Dave Kelly's "Pepper Seed" in 1995, alongside the return of love balladeers like Beres Hammond. American, British, and European electronic musicians used reggae-oriented beats to create further hybrid electronic music styles. Dub, world music, and electronic music continue to influence music in the 2000s. One of the latest developments is a musical form called Linguay which was founded by record producer Lissant Folkes in 2013.

JaFolk Mix is a term coined by Jamaican musician Joy Fairclough, to mean the mix of Jamaican Folk Music with any foreign and local styles of music and the evolution of a new sound created by their fusion. This is the latest Jamaican Music stylistic development of the late 20th century and 21st century. Jamaican music continues to influence the world's music. Many efforts at studying and copying Jamaican music has introduced the world to this new form of music as the copied styles are performed with accents linguistically and musically slanted to that of the home nation in which it is being studied, copied and performed.

Related Research Articles

Raggamuffin music, usually abbreviated as ragga, is a subgenre of dancehall and reggae music, in which the instrumentation primarily consists of electronic music. Similar to hip hop, sampling often serves a prominent role in raggamuffin music.

Riddim is the Jamaican Patois pronunciation of the English word "rhythm". In reggae, dancehall, calypso, soca, and reggaeton parlance it refers to the instrumental accompaniment to a song. These genres consist of the riddim plus the "voicing" sung by the deejay. The resulting song structure is distinctive in many ways. A given riddim, if popular, may be used in dozens—or even hundreds—of songs, not only in recordings but also in live performances.

Dub is a genre of electronic music that grew out of reggae in the 1960s, and is commonly considered a subgenre, though it has developed to extend beyond the scope of reggae. The style consists predominantly of instrumental remixes of existing recordings and is achieved by significantly manipulating and reshaping the recordings, usually through the removal of vocals, emphasis of the rhythm section, the application of studio effects such as echo and reverb, and the occasional dubbing of vocal or instrumental snippets from the original version or other works. It was an early form of popular electronic music.

Rocksteady is a music genre that originated in Jamaica around 1966. A successor of ska and a precursor to reggae, rocksteady was the dominant style of music in Jamaica for nearly two years, performed by many of the artists who helped establish reggae. For example harmony groups such as The Techniques, The Righteous Flames and The Gaylads; singers such as Delroy Wilson, Phyllis Dillon and Roy Shirley; musicians such as Jackie Mittoo, Tommy McCook and Lynn Taitt. The term rocksteady comes from a popular (slower) dance style mentioned in the Alton Ellis song 'Rocksteady' that matched the new sound. Some rocksteady songs became hits outside Jamaica, as with ska, helping to secure the international base reggae music has today.

There are several subgenres of reggae music including various predecessors to the form.

In Jamaican popular culture, a sound system is a group of disc jockeys, engineers and MCs playing ska, rocksteady or reggae music. The sound system is an important part of Jamaican culture and history.

People of African descent from the Caribbean have made significant contributions to British Black music for many generations.

Reggae fusion is a fusion genre of reggae that mixes reggae or dancehall with other genres, such as pop, rock, R&B, jazz and drum and bass.

The Rocksteady Seven

The Rocksteady 7 or "David Hillyard & the Rocksteady Seven", is an American Ska and Jazz band from New York, New York that formed in 1992. Since the early 90's the group has consisted of tenor saxophonist and band leader Dave Hillyard as well as percussionist Larry McDonald. In live performances, they are supported by a rotating cast of musicians, including drummer Eddie Ocampo and Dave Wake on keys among others.

Amos Edwards better known by his stage name General Trees, was one of the most popular Jamaican dancehall deejays of the 1980s, best known for his hits in the latter half of the decade.

Gladstone Anderson Jamaican musician

Gladstone Anderson, also known by his nickname "Gladdy", was a Jamaican pianist, keyboard player, and singer, who played a major part in the island's musical history, playing a key role in defining the ska sound and the rocksteady beat, and playing on hundreds of recordings as a session musician, a solo artist, and as leader of Gladdy's All Stars, featuring bassist Jackie Jackson, drummer Winston Grennan, guitarist Hux Brown, and keyboardist Winston Wright. As Harry J All Stars the band had a massive hit in Jamaica and United Kingdom with the instrumental song "The Liquidator" 1969.

The Bogle is a dance move originating from Kingston, Jamaica. The dance gets its name from a dancer named Bogle who danced as part of Kingston's Black Roses crew,who was in turn inspired by Barrington Levy.

References

  1. Dave Thompson (2002) Reggae and Caribbean Music. Backbeat Books. p. 261. ISBN   0879306556.
  2. "ROOTS 'n' RAP". www.ric.edu. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  3. Big D (2008-05-08). "Reggae Fusion". Reggae-Reviews. Retrieved 2008-06-07.[ permanent dead link ]

Further reading