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Barbados Music: Calypso

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The derivation of calypso rhythms can be traced back to the arrival of the first African slaves to Barbados and other Caribbean islands in the seventeenth century. The artform, which was developed in Trinidad, combines the skills of story-telling, singing and instrument making, and has since been influenced by European, North American and other Caribbean cultures. Calypso is a unique form of music that is an integral part of the Barbadian cultural landscape.

The calypso usually involves some social commentary, typically a humorous satire on social and political events, with an infectious beat. Other calypsos are strictly for "wuking up"!

Calypso became highly organized in Barbados in 1974, with the revival of the Crop Over Festival. Today, calypso is an integral part of the festival, with the Pic-O-De-Crop Calypso Competition being one of the most popular events. During Crop Over, several calypso tents (organized groups of calypsonians) perform a few days weekly. Eighteen of these calypsonians go forward to the semi-finals of the competition, with eight advancing to the finals to challenge the previous year's monarch.

The youth of Barbados are also involved in calypso, with several children (under 16 years) taking part in the Junior Calypso Monarch competition, which serves as a training ground for the calypsonians of the future. Based on the talent and enthusiasm of these youngsters, the future of calypso in Barbados looks very bright.

Calypso Music Videos

Music fusion

Since both reggae from Jamaica and soca from Trinidad are very popular in Barbados, a fusion of the two was always likely. This fusion came in the form of ragga-soca - a rhythm that is faster than reggae but slower than up-tempo soca.

Ringbang is a fusion of all the music of the Caribbean with the focus is on the rhythm rather than the melody. Since it's creation in 1994, ringbang has grown in popularity in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean.

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