Calypso in the Caribbean Essay

1607 Words 7 Pages
Pansy
ENG 401
Dr. Champagne
December 11, 2013
Calypso in the Caribbean “She say she don’t like bamboo/but she don’t mind meh cane/She say cane juice real sweet/it does reach to she brain” are song lyrics from the calypso song “Sweet Cane Juice” sung in Roger McTair’s short story, “Visiting”. According to Britannica Encyclopedia, calypso is “a type of folk song primarily from Trinidad though sung elsewhere in the southern and eastern Caribbean islands. The subject of a calypso text, usually witty and satiric, is a local and topical event of political and social import, and the tone is one of allusion, mockery, and double entendre”. This music genre is one of the most important traditions in Caribbean music history. Calypso music was
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Sadly, Trinidad was colonized by British General Sir Ralph Abercromby in 1797 (worldatlas.com). Due to the British colonization, slavery and civil rights became an issue (worldatlas.com). By 1838, Trinidad had an estimate of 18,000 slaves (worldatlas.com). During the difficult times of slavery, indentured slaves found ways to nonverbally communicate to each other in the sugarcane field plantations. While working, the slaves were forbidden to converse with each other. Instead of speaking, they sang songs that they knew from their native land, West Africa. The slaves used a song or chant called kaiso “which originated in West Africa, and later evolved into Calypso” (“A brief history of kaiso”). “Kaiso songs are generally narrative in form and often have a cleverly concealed political subtext” (“A brief history of kaiso”). Early calypso music was sung in Creole French to imitate slave owners. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “During the carnival season before lent, groups of slaves led by popular singers, or shatwell, wandered through the streets singing and improvising veiled lyrics directed toward unpopular political figures.” Calypso contains unique elements because it holds highly rhythmic and harmonic lyrics. The song is similar to the form of a ballad and Encyclopedia Britannica describes this form as “four-line refrains follow eight-line stanzas. The simple rhyme scheme is amply compensated for by the highly

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