Musical Ancestries: The Caribbean
THE CARIBBEAN is made of:
- 4 regions – the Lucayan Archipelago, the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles and the ABC Islands. The ABC islands are the three western-most islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea that lie north of Falcón State, Venezuela. In order alphabetically, they are Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao.
- 13 sovereign states
- 17 dependent territories
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Dutch, and Andillean Creole
Geographically the area is referred to as Archipelago which is an expanse of water with scattered islands (Webster Dictionary)
- https://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/caribb/caribmaps.htm (Kid-friendly map)
- https://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/map/Caribbean-political-map.htm (political map w/ countries – also topographic map to explain archipelago)
- https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-82.2026714,1537970m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e4 (satellite topographic map – also cool for explaining archipelago)
- Known as Melting Pot of cultures
- Every island and stretch of coastline have at least one signature style (www.liveabout.com)
- All the music has dance-friendly rhythms. Really can’t listen to the music without moving.
- Reggae-Jamaica (Bob Marley)
- Calypso-Trinidad and Tobago (Harry Belafonte)
- Bachata Dominica Republic
- Merengue-Dominican Republic
https://youtu.be/RixqRLVuhcA (CUE #1) BP Renegades – Winning Panorama 2019
1) DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
- Origin of Merengue and Bachata (www.godominicanrepublic.com)
- Influenced by West Africa, Spanish and European roots
- Merengue: National Music and Dance of Dominican Republic
- UNESCO proclaimed merengue as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
- Instruments: Guira from Taino; Tambora (drum) from West Africa; Accordion from Spain
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merengue_t%C3%ADpico, description of history
- search “Guira Instrument” for pix, history and availability
- https://omeka1.grinnell.edu/MusicalInstruments/items/show/390 – Grinell collecgion
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tambora_(Dominican_drum) detailed history
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-1wSbRdVYs Tambora demonstration
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merengue_t%C3%ADpico Merengue tipico (older form)
https://youtu.be/RMdnKayM-G4 (CUE #2)
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatonic_button_accordion Melodeonn – diatonic button accordian
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjPdl233RCE – young boy playing melodeon
- Merengue: rhythmically driven; heavy downbeat; follows 2/4 or 4/4 beat patterns
- Signature instruments; Tambora, Guitar, Melodean (accordion-like instrument), Guira
- More of an Urban sound: humble beginnings to more modernized orchestral, “big band” style
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fautemcgU48, UNESCO History of Merengue music and dance
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7cKWfcaAvY, Merengue Bachata dance – Edwin & Dakota – Joan Soriano Maria Elena (segue from Unesco link – perhaps a bit too suggestive)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6vxmoSa1ok, La Bilirrubina with Juan Luis Guerra (Cue #3)
- https://www.amazon.com/La-Cosquillita/dp/B01LDUELD2, La Cosquillita is also on the Album Sabor Criolla (Musica Tipica) Vol. 1.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-9ILrbOM2Q, Juan Luis Guerra, Arturo Sandoval, -La Bilirrubina
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmVm5qYbGS8, Merengue dance lessons – Kennedy Center
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPkBOLBEbVM, Johnny Ventura – Hasta La Tambora
Bachata: music of love and broken hearts in the hinterlands. Born in poorestneighborhoods of the Dominican Republic. Country music.
- Slow romantic style played on Spanish guitar
- “Songs of bitterness” considered low class until Juan Luis Guerra brought it into popularity
https://youtu.be/1OX0V3x2P4M, Juan Luis Guerra (CUE #4)
- Bachata: originated as a string bolero (originating in Cuba): slow, sensual
- Originally music of the lower class.
- Reached higher level of sophistication in music lyrics through celebrities like Juan Luis Guerra and Victor Victor
- DR children can dance before they can walk
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKGtAdFm0mo, Best of Bachata (all 3 audio only)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFZhfoWP3Fw, Jose Manuel Calderon the pioneer of the Bachata
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpuR6pEKeHM, Jose Manuel Calderon
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq4kKkeRSyM, Traditional Bachata Dancing
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCVQmEeBfbU, How to dance a Bachata
2) TRINIDAD and TOBAGO
Calypso style: Harry Belafonte
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reNWJMZtvU0, Jump in the Line (CUE #5)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMigXnXMhQ4 Banana Boat Song (Day O)
The Calypso in Trinidad and Tobago, is mainly of African origin, and can be traced to the traditions of West Africans in terms of music, structure and function. Calypso, which has been called a poor man’s newspaper in times when literacy was not wide spread, traces its roots to African traditions of improvised songs of self-praise and scorn for others, brought here by enslaved peoples. It developed to become both a dance and cultural record of events at first in single tone style with implicit meanings and a spicy flavour.
The roots of “Calypso” are diverse. Some argue it came from “kaiso” a Hausa word for “bravo”; some say the word came from the French “carrousseaux” a drinking party; or the Spanish “calliso” a tropical song; or the Carib “carieto”, meaning the same thing.
Calypso is a form of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago. The start of the genre came from the arrival of African slaves who were forbidden to speak to one another in their native languages, so they communicated through songs.
Typical calypso instruments are the trumpet, trombone, flute, saxophone, bass guitar, Spanish guitar, conga, bongos, steelpan, violin, maracas, cuatro, concertina, bamboo sticks, glass bottle/spoon, claves, and jawbone. Nowadays, calypso music is changing a great deal to incorporate all kinds of instruments.
- 4/4 time with syncopation.
- acoustic and bass guitar or band with trumpets, saxophones, electric guitars, drum kit and Latin percussion.
- often uses three-beat rhythms with two long beats followed by a short beat.
- often uses call and response.
- simple harmony.
- verse and chorus songs.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M58tKHeYBVU, Mighty Sparrow, King of Calypso (documentary)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9czsuzbEWg, BP Renegades Steel Orchestra / International Panorama Competition / arranged by Maestro Duvone Stewart. BP Renegades Steel Orchestra, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. (CUE #6)
Steel drums originated in Trinidad, in the West Indies, in the 20th century and are played in ensembles, or steel bands, of about 4 to 100 performers. Drums are commonly made in four sizes from bass to treble, called boom, cellopan, guitar pan, and ping pong.
Salsa – considered a newer version of older Afro-Cuban forms and rhythms
- Cuban roots but developed in New York City in the ‘60s with Cuban, Puerto Rican and South American. Travelled back to Cuban, Puerto Rico and South American and continued to evolve into particular salsa styles.
- Salsa, as in the spicy sauce used to give food zing, would be shouted out to “spur dancers and musicians on to more frenetic activity.”
- Instruments: Clave, maracas, conga, bongos, tambora, bato, and cowbell. Marimba, vibraphone, bass, guitar, violin, piano accordion, and flute. Trumpet trombone, and saxophone.
- Instruments and singers imitate call and response patterns of traditional African songs and then go into a chorus.
- Basic rhythm is 1-2-3,1-2. Fast tempo-exuberant musical energy
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luaTmtdP46c breaks down Montuno’s combined rhythmic elements – claves, piano and drums.
- Billboards Top 15 Salsa music
- Hector Lavoe “the voice of salsa music”: Periodico de Ayer (audio) (sum of salsa sounds of the ‘70s)
- Signature song: El Cantante, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNo0vkEYWRc
- Latino Anthem: Mi Gente
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nENuUS_DHwQ, Celia Cruz “the queen of salsa”: Tora Mata (audio)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXnjy5YlDwk, Marc Anthony video (music from recording, probably also a single) Vivir Mi Vida (CUE # 7)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53XiXZX2eoM, Celia Cruz with Luciano Pavarotti
https://youtu.be/rL5VwEwZ7aU, Sexteto Habanero is a good exemplar of son (CUE #8)
4) BAHAMAS (NASSAU)
Goombay is a form of Bahamian music and a drum used to create it. The drum is a membranophone made with goat skin and played with the hands.
The goombay name has also evolved to become synonymous with local Afro-Caribbean music related to calypso. In The Bahamas, its most famous practitioner in modern times was Alphonso ‘Blind Blake’ Higgs, who performed at the Nassau International Airport for many years. His style was a mix of Dixieland jazz, calypso/goombay, and American folk.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytMQnKToKWQ 05:15 – 8:44 (Mama, What a Pain I Got)
The true origin of the word Junkanoo is disputed. The two more popular theories are: 1. it is named for a folk hero named John Canoe, who was a slave trader responsible for granting the slaves holidays on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) and at New Years. The second most circulated theory is that the term is derived from the French “gens inconnus” (unknown people) because masks are worn by the revelers.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLiEVodP2V0, Explanation of costume making
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVeuG5GfzRE, highlights from 2019 New Year’s Junkanoo Parade (CUE #9)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpUh5wUBkbM, Best Calypso Music – Trinidad & Tobago – Steel Drums (CUE #10)
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The Dominican Republic
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3401 Arsenal St.
St. Louis, MO 63118
Immigrant Stories: The Dominican Republic https://www.iistl.org/dominican-republic/
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To promote awareness, provide hope and meet tangible needs for children and families who live with Down syndrome. To improve the standard of living and quality of life for impoverished people in the Dominican Republic through education, medical relief and tangible goods. To provide extraordinary experiences for children with disabilities and/or life-threatening illnesses.
Afro-Cuban Ensemble at University of Missouri-St. Louis
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