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Music in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad & Tobago is the birthplace of Calypso and Steel pan - the only acoustic musical instrument invented during the 20th century. Other indigenous musical art forms include Soca (a derivate of calypso), Parang (Venezuelan-influenced Christmas music), chutney, and Pichakaree (musical forms which blend the music of the Caribbean and India) and the famous limbo dance. Steel pans were manufactured in the 1930th, mainly by young, lesser educated man. They were in those days usually made of old oil drums or even old dust bins and no tuned pitches. Over time, tune pitches were added and drums of varying depth were made available. A yearly competition, The Steel Band Panoramas, takes place in the pan yard all over the country and bands such as Samrit Samaroo and Codrington Pan Family are well known to the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago. Calypso has its roots in the days of slavery and was originally meant to be a form of communication among the slaves. When slavery was abolished, Calypso became the music that is mostly connected to the Carnival. Musicians such as the Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener and Harry Belafonte – to name a few – took Calypso around the world and made a world know musical arts, with lyrics emphasizing political events. However, during the 1970, the popularity of Calypso declined, which made room for other musical art form such as Soca. The incorporation of Indian instruments into Calypso in the 1960, first formed Soca music, but was in the 1980 replaced by the more contemporary Soca, that lends its Rhythms from Calypso, Disco and funk. Shadow – born in Tobago – was most influential in the drum and bass sound of Soca. The change of the 1990, when Reggae was fused into Soca, still remains popular and made Soca an internationally recognized music. Artist such as Bunji Garlin, Machel Montano, Xtatic etc. perform their arts all over the world and have become musical ambassadors for T&T. At the same time Chutney Soca – composed by the Indian parts of T&T’s population, became famous for its lyrics, melodies and fast-paced beats.

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