Caribbean Music Essay

1080 Words Sep 14th, 2008 5 Pages

Caribbean music originated from the Caribbean Islands, also known as the West Indies, and is a mixture of West African and European predominantly Spanish influences. The music has its origin when West African slaves were brought to Caribbean Island. They composed music with the help of percussion instruments like drums, bells and shakers. The music had unique musical style elements with special tempo-setting rhythms created by claves or bells, multi-layered and syncopated rhythms and songs which were in the form of call-and-response formats. The European influence came through the usage of guitar, Spanish dance styles along with the use of Western European type of harmony.

There are different types of
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Other Caribbean instruments include claves, maracas, guiro, tamboo bamboo and tiple along with the violin, electric bass, acoustic bass, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, and the six-string Spanish guitar.


When Carribbean music is mention, the forms which commonly occur in musical lovers’ minds are reggae, ska, rock, calypso, etc. Ska and rock steady music originated in Jamaica much before reggae. Along with mento, ska quickly assumed a uniquely Jamaican up-tempo beat. By 1966, ska, the jumpy syncopated music mellowed down to the slower, more melodic tempo which became popular as rock steady. The lyrics of this form of music were predominantly based on everyday lives and experiences of the people. Some of the popular songs of the rock steady music were Prince Buster’s Judge Dread; Willow Tree, I’m just a Guy and Sitting in the Park by the `King of Rock Steady’ music, Alton Ellis. This form of music led to the new form of Caribbean music which was called the reggae. Reggae music was referred to a `ragged’ form of dance rhythm popular in Jamaica and must have been named after the famous song by Toots and the Maytals, “Do the Raggay”. The form of music specially dealt with poverty, and politics along with its association with Rastafarian religion.

This form of music was different from its predecessors, ska and rock steady, due to its association with spirituality and was also called as `roots reggae’. The

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