Trinidad & Tobago: Culture
Calypso evolved in the 19th century as mainly music for the Carnival bands. This music was not only invented but was perfected here. Even though many countries have also perfected the art, yet Trinidad defines its standard, this is the standard by which others are judged. Calypso was first sung in patios, using minor keys, drum, and chorus around the turn of the century. At approximately the turn of the century songs were being sung in English and calypso is now being replaced with its fast paced modern counterpart Soca. Carnival now produces a national Calypso Monarch, Road March King and Soca Monarch.
There is no experience on earth to compare with Trinidad Carnival, the oldest and greatest of them all , the mother of all Carnivals , often imitated, never equaled.
The period comprises of approximately five days of masquerading, fun frolicking.
The culmination of one long year of waiting, designing re-designing, planning, scheming and composing. Now it is time to showcase the seeds of innovation and brillance. Songs are reverberating from recording studios and being performed live.
Costumes that defy the imagination by the thousands move like a massive sea of
Colours, irradiating fun and frolicking. Yes there are Carnivals or imitations all over the world but right here visitors can have a first-hand experience of "THE MOTHER OF THEM ALL". Something extraordinary happens at Carnival time, all barrier drop,
Class, rank the world of commerce, poltics, hassle, gossip, hate, is suspended, Humans will now recreate. Here you learn of the true art of living, joy and inspite of all the the various activities noises and interactions, this is a beautiful peace. In most countries January and February are winter months calm, cold and quiet. No not Trinidad and Tobago the mood is hot and titillating, no wonder " THE CARNIVAL ARTS ARE PUBLIC PROPERTY".
Panorama - A Cultural explosion of Steel bands from around the country. The music that they play is from the renditions of the Calypso's of the current season. Each band is made up of 70-100 members both male and female. The Steel Pan is the only musical instrument invented in the 20th century and is made from oil drums and crafted into musical playing instrument that is formed into an orchestra.
Is the competition of the Steel bands contending for the honor of Panorama champions of the year. The competition is zoned off into 4 areas with the zones having their individual competition, with the first place bands going to the National competitions. The bands compete from preliminary, semi-finals and finals. Each band that places in the finals win a monetary prize along with a trophy and reigns as the Panorama champions of Trinidad & Tobago for the entire year. Preparations for this competition begins months before the climax of the National competition, which takes place the Saturday before Carnival Monday. Members of the community from which these contestants come support these bands overwhelming. Years ago due to the commitment of the villagers, fights broke out because it was very territorial. Members of one band were not allowed to intermingle or even visit neighborhoods of another band. 11Fortunately situations are much less volatile today. Now it is a more a prestigious affair, with total community involvement, from the youngest to the oldest all joining together to make this a unified effort.
J'ouverte :- This is the official beginning of the Carnival Season. Revelers storm the streets from 5 a.m. on Carnival Monday morning with their bodies covered in colored paint, depicting morbid, fun, or ridiculous issues. Years ago participants of Jouvet were just a few people coming together to have fun and to scare their friends. It has been revolutionized into a grand affair with even the elite taking part in this procession of Bodies. A vast difference from the Monday and Tuesday parade of Bands, in cost and costume. To participate in a band, a registration fee from as little as $ 50.00 to as much as $200.00 is required. This takes care of the paint and the pieces of costume that may be depicted by the band. This is organized as a single group effort with a specific theme.
Participants for example wear such things as adult diapers alone with their bodies painted in a bright red paint (or color of choice) and parade the streets for 8 to 10 hours dancing the music of steel band or D.J's again playing the calypso of the year or past years. This is considered "getting into the mood " for the later parade on Monday and Tuesday.
Last Lap - This is the last jump, Last drink, last party of Carnival Tuesday. This has also been transformed into one of the largest parties of the Carnival Season. The end of the grand parade of bands down town, it is the taken up-town where the last of the costumes is discarded and partygoers are expelling the last of their energies until 10 p.m. when all music is to stop. Before everything comes to an end it is the "Mother of all Parties" as they jump and dance and take in the lat of the music before Ash Wednesday.
Associated with house to house festivities, partying, this is the Christmas music of Trinidad and is aligned to Venezuelan carols. The music has Spanish lyrics, Latin rthythm, utilizing musical instruments like cuatro, violin, maracas, guitar and box bass. Towards the end of the year. Some groups are fusing this with soca, and are calling this Soca parang.
This was created in Trinidad between the late !930's and the early !940's. The first pans were carried around the neck. This music has now spread across the world. There are steel orchestra now in many countries .In Trinidad the main showcases are the Panorama competition at Carnival time ---- Pan Ramajay in May, Steelband week in August, the world Steelband Festival, and the Schools SteelBand Festival in October and Pan Jazz Festival in November. There are over 100 Steel Orchestra in Trinidad.
Soca is a another version of calypso , but a slicker version, with less emphasis on lyrics and more on mass crowd response, intricate bass and percussion. The soca beat absorbs other influences from other forms of music and fuses easily into reggae,(reggae-soca) dancehall, jazz and R&B as well as crossing over into parang and Indian music.