Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. It is characterized by a walking bass line, accented guitar or piano rhythms on the offbeat. In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant musical genre of Jamaica, and it was also popular with British mods. Music historians typically divide the history of ska into three periods: the original Jamaican ska scene of the 1960s, the 2 Tone ska revival that started in England in the late 1970s, and the third wave ska movement, which started in the 1980s.

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