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Apr 19

The Mysterious Story Of The Sleng Teng Riddim – Involves David Bowie, Reggae & a Casio Keyboard

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This week Melodics is bringing you ‘Sleng Teng’ lessons and a series of Loopmasters lessons entitled Django. While all our lessons have rich histories the story of Sleng Teng is particularly unique.

The Sleng Teng Riddim is iconic for bringing reggae into the digital era. While relatively simplistic this sample was originally a Rock preset on the 1985 Casiotone MT-40 keyboard.

The keyboard was bought by reggae artists Kingy Jammy and Wayne Smith with the rock preset being used as the bassline for their 1986 track ‘Under Mi Sleng Teng’. The interesting thing was that Smith didn’t even want to buy the keyboard but did so due to financial reasons.

The person who created the preset is a Japanese engineer but the name of Hiroko Okuda. In subsequent interviews Okuda has stated she based the preset on 1970’s British Rock song however refused to say which one. While there are a few theories as to which song many believe it to be David Bowies 1972 song ‘Hang On To Yourself’.

Another interesting fact about Okuda was that she said she listened to a lot of reggae while at University. Perhaps these influences may have subliminally emerged when creating this preset.  This piece of information combined with the fact that King Jammy and Wayne Smith never intended to purchase the MT-40 keyboard in the first place make this story even more incredible. Maybe it was destiny.

Here are some high profile songs that have used the ‘Sleng Teng’ riddim since.

So now that you are schooled up on the history of this weeks lessons it is time to play them for yourself. As always feel free to post any videos of you playing Melodics on social media. We love sharing your content on our channels.

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See You Next Tuesday

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