Tobagobig 669 (Medium)

By Lyn Funnell.

I noticed in Trinidad and Tobago that they don’t play much UK or USA pop. They prefer their own traditional music.

Soca is the most popular kind of music.

Known as The Soul of Calypso, it isn’t actually Calypso!

It’s hard to describe, but I thought that some of it had a Salsa beat. And some of it even sounds Punjabi, and has been used in Bollywood films.

It originated in the 1970s, mainly from Garfield Blackman, who was also known as Lord Shorty.

All Trinidadians and Tobagans have nicknames.

He evolved it from Calypso and Indo-Caribbean sounds.

Some Soca songs have a slightly humourous, naughty hidden meaning.

One of our drivers was also a DJ and he patiently explained all this to me, playing a couple of tunes several times. But they were in such a local version of English that I had trouble understanding them!

Soca is still growing and evolving, absorbing traces of other kinds of music.

It has several basic beats, and often singers will improvise their words to the beat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2kQrhyV56k

..And here’s Lord Shorty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zixjg5umy0

Dub is the music with the loud, heavy beat. It promotes the use of marijuana, which is supposed to be a peaceful drug. But when Dub is played at weddings or parties, they often end up in a punchup!

A lot of radio stations have banned Dub.

To Dub means to remix, but it also means to have sex.

Dub music emphasises the drum and bass sounds. It grew out of reggae.

It was pioneered by Osbourne ‘King Tubby’ Ruddock, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Errol Thompson and others, in the late 1960s.

Here’s King Tubby.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzNAFh0JsPA

King Tubby & Errol Thompson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aodBQeuSqUA

Lee Perry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo0w0hd4iuo

Parang Is Trinidad and Tobagan Christmas music.

Everyone goes from house to house, and after three houses, they’re pretty drunk!

Parang is usually played on the Quattro, the Shak Shak, the Mandolin and the Guitar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTvniUZoZIo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvMGoLN3dWE

It’s a bit different to Silent Night isn’t it?!

When I was in Tobago in July, it was Christmas in July.

Every year, Radio 100.1FM plays Christmas music all day, on the last Friday in July.

I’d never have guessed that it was Christmas music until I was told!

Calypso has the longest history of Trinidad/Tobago music.

It can be dated back to the 17th Century when African slaves were taken to Trinidad to work on the sugar plantations. They weren’t allowed to talk, so they developed Calypso as a way to gossip to each other, and to make sarcastic comments about their slave masters.

Mighty Sparrow was one of the most popular Calypso singers. There’s a statue of him in the main square in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B-Sl7l_56g

Although Harry Belafonte made it a bit soppy (in between Dubbing Joan Collins) Calypso songs are very politically scathing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8Gbk4i41_M

They’re not like ordinary songs. They’re more like performances, and can go on for around 10 minutes.

I went to the Heritage Calypso Monarch Competition. It was a very serious affair, and the introductions took so long that I agreed with the woman behind me, who shouted out, ‘Just get on with the show!’

First, the National Anthem was sung, followed by a prayer, and lots of speeches, thanking everyone, followed by very subdued spatterings of applause.

Finally, the Competition started.

Michael Skeete was the first. He came on dressed in rags, and sang about the Old Times when everyone used to barter.

While he sang, a couple in front of the stage, also dressed in rags, bartered cardboard fish for bread and corn.

After that there was a pause while several women carrying boxes walked round, giving out pairs of scissors. Nobody except us seemed surprised at this.

Then Caston Cupid came on – dressed as a giant pair of scissors!

His song was about all the cuts that the Government wanted everyone to make, and when he sang the chorus, we all had to wave our scissors in the air.

He’s been the winner for several years, and he came 5th this time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGQzhYfyW70

Whatever type of music they have, the Trinidadians and Tobagans put a lot of feeling into it.

I love it!

Tourist Board websites are:

www.gotrinidadandtobago.com

www.tobagostyle.travel

Twitter: tnt_steelypan

Facebook: Adventures of Steely Pan

British Airways: www.britishairways.com/Tobago

Flights from £567 return

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Phone: +1 868-639-8512

www.tropikist.com

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Blue Waters Inn:

Speyside, Tobago

Phone+1 868-660-4341

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Prices from £128

About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.