In this blog, I want to analyse a song called “Stir it up” by Bob Marley a known legend of reggae music who drove reggae from its roots in Jamaica and delivered it to the world during his music career. This song which was published in 1972 by Hal Leonard Music Publishing under a “Catch A Fire” music album was a massive hit song for Bob Marley which attracted attention of the regime’s stars like Johnny Nash an American reggae singer- songwriter known for his massive hit ‘I can see clearly now’ who loved the track, did different versions of the song and ever asked Bob Marley to tour and perform on their shows.
Stir it up is a five and 30 seconds song produced by The Wailers, Bob Marley and Chris Blackwell an English businessman and record producer who is the founder of Island Records which is one of Britain’s great independent record label. The song has a tempo of 76 BPM (beats per minute) composed in a key of A Major and a 4/4-time signature.
The song has minimal elements used in it production and this include:_
Drums (acoustic kit)
According to the sound of the drums on the track, they sound like they were tracked live in the studio as you can hear them in the song. They used 4/4 drumming pattern on the kick drum where the third beat is emphasised (third kick is kicked/ played louder than the other beats). This is one of the drumming technique used in reggae music production. The snare (rim shot) playing every second and fourth beat throughout the song is slightly panned to the right side of the mix and the hats are panned hard right in the mix. There is a compression applied to the kick and snare drum that makes them loud and stands out in the mix. The snare and the hats have reverb applied to them giving them the ambience space sound. This makes the song sound like it is being played live in a large open space or in a concert hall. The snare drum also has a delay effect on it which makes it play with an echo effect bouncing back after it is hit.
The toms heard at the beginning of the song are playing in the centre of the mix with a bit of compression on them. The snare drum also has reverb applied to it so do the hats which give the ambience that they present in the song. They sound like they are being played in a big open hall.
The track has a very groovy melodic bass guitar that plays the main melody and rhythm of the track and is accompanied by an electric melodic guitar which plays the same rhythm like the bass and adding a bit of harmony to the song. The guitar plays a different pattern the in the verses and in the bridge. The bass in this song is the loudest instrument as it is the case with other songs in the same genre. This gives reggae music a characteristic which makes it different from other music genres because its tracks have a presence of heavy low-end frequencies/instruments which are boosted and can be felt in the human body if played on a good sound system, for example, the groovy bass guitar and kick drum. The bass plays in the centre of the track and I believe it is driven by a compressor which made it loud enough than other instruments. The melodic guitar is panned to the right side of the track which makes the mix wide and cleaner as panning instruments in a song controls them from colliding or crashing with other instruments that have the same frequency response. There are other two guitars (acoustic and electric) that are used in the production of this track. The acoustic guitar panned to the middle of the track it has a low volume which is very hard to be noticed if close attention is not paid you can miss it out. It is playing the chords of the song which are A, D, E.
Lastly is the overdriven electric guitar that is playing the scratchy effect throughout the song. This effect contributes much to the entire rhythm of that song and has the same groove as the hats thou it is panned the opposite way to the hats (hard left). Both of the effect and the hats have a reverb on them which
Vocals and lyrics
The Bob Marley main vocals are moderately loud and they have reverb applied on them as they are heard with the ambience feel on them. The song has multi backing vocals and harmonies which have been doubled them to make them seem like a choir is backing Bob Marley up and they are panned left and right of the mix as the choir would be set up on the stage. The backing vocals have a combination of female and male voices and they have a presence of low, mid and high frequencies (bass alter and soprano).
The lyrics of the song show that it’s a sexual song written to praise a woman, I believe Bob Marley wrote this song to his wife by then.
In “Stir it up”, the harmony is played by a distorted and overdriven Moog synthesiser that is playing with a sweeping sound panned with an automation moving from right to left and backwards in the song. The overall sound of the guitars and the Moog synthesiser have brighter and warm tones. They are played in the high frequencies which add bite and clarity to them.
Form and structure
Below is the formation, sections and structure arrangement of the song and the length of each section.
Introduction – 16 bars
Chorus -17 bars
Verse -16 bars
Chorus -17 bars
Verse -16 bars
Chorus – 17 bars
Verse – 16 bars
Chorus – 17 bars
Solo – 56 bars
Outro – 24 bars