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Music of Trinidad and Tobago

The Caribbean state of Trinidad & Tobago is best known as the homeland of calypso music, including 1950s stars Lord Kitchener and Mighty Sparrow. Other forms of music include Carnival songs like lavway[?] and leggos[?], as well as bongo music[?] (which originated at wakes). Yoruban shango and Dahomean rada[?] are also popular among the descendents of indentured servants[?] in Port of Spain.

Calypso was developed on the island of Trinidad, and has since become one of the major musical ancestors of diverse styles, including reggae, soca and rapso[?]. The musical genre began when African slaves were brought to the area to work plantations owned by Europeans, and the slaves were forbidden to talk to each other (in any case, they spoken dozens of different languages, so communication was inherently difficult). Calypso, probably derived from a similar West African musical style called kaiso[?], arose as a means of communication among the slaves; kaiso is still used today as a synonym for calypso in Trinidad and some other islands. Highly rhythmic and harmonic vocals characterized the music, which was most often sung in a French creole[?] and led by a griot[?]. As calypso developed, the role of the griot (originally a similar traveling musician in West Africa) became known as a chantuelle and eventually, calypsonian. Calypso was popularized after the abolition of slavery and the ensuing growth of the Carnival festivals in the 1830s.

In 1914 (see 1914 in music), calypso was recorded for the first time and the following decade saw the arrival of calypso tents[?], where calypsonians practiced and, eventually, new musics for Carnival were exhibited (including lavway[?] and leggos[?]). During Carnival, calypsonians competed for awards like the Road March[?], National Calypso Monarch[?], Queen Calypso[?], Junior Monarch[?] and Extempo Monarch[?]. Soon, stars like Lord Invader and The Roaring Lion[?] grew in stature, leading the way for calypso's mainstreaming with artists like Lord Kitchener, Harry Belafonte and Mighty Sparrow. Mighty Sparrow's first hit was "Jean and Dinah", celebrating the departure of American military forces from Trinidad; the song launched politically active calypso music, which soon became associated with the People's National Movement[?]. Trinidad and Tobago became an independent country in 1962.

During the 1970s, calypso's popularity waned throughout the word, including the Caribbean. Derivatives include an uptempo version mixed with musical styles from the large Indian minority in Trinidad and Tobago, called soca, and a hip hop and dub-influenced style called rapso[?] both became popular in Trinidad and other islands.

Soca is said to have been invented in 1963 (see 1963 in music) by Lord Shorty[?]'s "Clock and Dagger". Shorty added Indian instruments, including the dholak[?], tabla[?] and dhantal[?] and soon rivaled reggae as the most popular form of Caribbean music. Shorty's 1974 Endless Vibrations[?] brought soca to its peak of international fame.

Rapso has become the most influential of these two main descendents of calypso; it arose as Black Power and Pan-Africanist[?] thought spread in Trinidad. Lancelot Layne[?] is said to have invented the genre with his 1971 hit "Blown Away", while Cheryl Byron[?] brought rapso to calypso tents in 1976. The term rapso first appeared in 1980 on Busting Out[?], an album by Brother Resistance[?] and his Network Riddum Band[?]. Since 1986 saw the rise of David Rudder[?], brass bands have begun to dominate the Carnival competitions.

Steeldrum[?] and pan music[?] have achieved great popularity in Trinidad, though limited success elsewhere, alongside Indian-derived genres like chutney[?] and seasonal Christmas music called parang[?]. Chutney-soca[?] and chut-kai-pang[?] (chutney, parang and calypso, mixed with Venezuelan-derived rhythms) have also achieved some popularity.

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