Caribbean Music
Caribbean Music

Caribbean Music

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  • Pages: 3 (1048 words)
  • Published: October 14, 2017
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CARIBBEAN MUSIC Introduction: Caribbean music originated from the Caribbean Islands, also known as the West Indies, and is a mixture of West African and European predominantly Spanish influences. The music has its origin when West African slaves were brought to Caribbean Island. They composed music with the help of percussion instruments like drums, bells and shakers. The music had unique musical style elements with special tempo-setting rhythms created by claves or bells, multi-layered and syncopated rhythms and songs which were in the form of call-and-response formats.The European influence came through the usage of guitar, Spanish dance styles along with the use of Western European type of harmony. There are different types of Caribbean music which vary from island to island like the `son’ is more common in Cuba which also includes mambo dance music.

The finale of the most Cuban sones consists of quick undulation between a soloist who gives a `call’ and the rest of the group playing and singing give the `response’.Other forms of Caribbean music include the `rumba’ which also formed one of the popular ballroom dance forms in America. One of the most popular Caribbean musician and his group, Bob Marley and the Wailers made Jamaican `reggae’ well-known among music lovers across the globe. Another popular music form which arose from such music was `Calypso’ which was more common in Trinidad and Tobago. It was a popular style of song that often contained comical social criticism and satire. A less well-known style was tamboo bamboo, which involves using stamping tubes made of bamboo.

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Some of the Caribbean musical instruments are conga drums, a Cuban barrel-shaped, one-headed hand drums, played in sets of two to four; bongo drums, a set of two small one-headed drums held between the knees and played by hand; timbales, a set of two one-headed metal shelled drums played with a stick among other instruments like steel drums. Steel drums were made of oil drums heated and hammered into an instrument with multiple pitches played with rubber-headed mallets and were often played in bands of many nstruments. Other Caribbean instruments include claves, maracas, guiro, tamboo bamboo and tiple along with the violin, electric bass, acoustic bass, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, and the six-string Spanish guitar. Analysis: When Carribbean music is mention, the forms which commonly occur in musical lovers’ minds are reggae, ska, rock, calypso, etc. Ska and rock steady music originated in Jamaica much before reggae.

Along with mento, ska quickly assumed a uniquely Jamaican up-tempo beat.By 1966, ska, the jumpy syncopated music mellowed down to the slower, more melodic tempo which became popular as rock steady. The lyrics of this form of music were predominantly based on everyday lives and experiences of the people. Some of the popular songs of the rock steady music were Prince Buster’s Judge Dread; Willow Tree, I’m just a Guy and Sitting in the Park by the `King of Rock Steady’ music, Alton Ellis. This form of music led to the new form of Caribbean music which was called the reggae.

Reggae music was referred to a `ragged’ form of dance rhythm popular in Jamaica and must have been

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named after the famous song by Toots and the Maytals, “Do the Raggay”. The form of music specially dealt with poverty, and politics along with its association with Rastafarian religion. This form of music was different from its predecessors, ska and rock steady, due to its association with spirituality and was also called as `roots reggae’. The legendary musician, Bob Marley made the roots reggae music internationally famed.Other most common Caribbean music forms are the Calypso, Soca and Rapso. Calypso rhythms were first sung by the African slaves who were brought to work in Trinidad and they were forbidden to talk to each other.

This music form was the only way of communication for them. Banana Boat Song is one of the most popular, internationally known calypso songs. While, Soca was a modern form of calypso with a high speed beat, rapso was considered to be a fusion of American rap music with soca which was created to narrate the everyday experiences of people.Though there are varied forms of Caribbean music, roots reggae has gained the most amount of popularity across the globe owing to the contributions of the legendary, Boy Marley (1945-1981), a Jamaican singer, guitarist, songwriter who was successful in initiating the roots reggae music and make it world famous.

He formed a group called the Wailers which was one of the main reasons for roots reggae to gain widespread popularity. He started his career as a musician in 1961 when he formed his group, Rudeboys, which he renamed as The Wailing Wailers.This name was rechristened as The Wailers and their first composition was in the ska style. By the end of the decade, The Wailers became very well-known for their Caribbean music however, were not known in the international arena. They gained immense popularity and became world famous with their album, Catch A Fire. This led to reggae form of Caribbean music joining the family of internationally acclaimed music.

He was awarded the Jamaica’s Order of Merit, one the nation’s highest honors in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the country’s culture.However, this award was given to him posthumously owing to his untimely death due to cancer in 1981. In spite of his death, his music continued to gain popularity. In 1984, a compilation of his songs were released through an album, Legend which has been sold in more than 10,000,000 copies only in USA.

His music was brilliant ad evocative and stretched for nearly two decades. He has been given very interesting names like “the first Third World superstar,” “Rasta Prophet,” “visionary,” and” “revolutionary artist. His group, The Wailers comprised of Bob, Peter Mclntosh and Bunny Livingston was successful in putting together about 30 songs which made them one of the hottest groups in Jamaica. With the assistance of legendary reggae producer Lee Scratch Perry, the group was successful in producing some of the finest musical tracks like “Soul Rebel,” “Duppy Conquerer,” “400 Years,” and “Small Axe” which were considered as classics and were all time favorites among scores of music lovers.

These tracks were also successful in giving a future direction to reggae kind of

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