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Carnival Music in Trinidad

Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture

Shannon Dudley

Publication Date - October 2003

ISBN: 9780195138337

128 pages
Book with CD/DVD
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

Retail Price to Students: $84.99


Carnival Music in Trinidad is one of several case-study volumes that can be used along with Thinking Musically, the core book in the Global Music Series. Thinking Musically incorporates music from many diverse cultures and establishes the framework for exploring the practice of music around the world. It sets the stage for an array of case-study volumes, each of which focuses on a single area of the world. Each case study uses the contemporary musical situation as a point of departure, covering historical information and traditions as they relate to the present. Visit www.oup.com/us/globalmusic for a list of case studies in the Global Music Series. The website also includes instructional materials to accompany each study.
Home to the most elaborate Carnival celebration in the Caribbean, Trinidad is the birthplace of the steelband and a hub for calypso and soca, musical genres that have been influential throughout the world. Collectively, these and other performance genres constitute the dynamic event of Carnival, which for more than a century has been an occasion for an intense exchange of ideas about society, culture, and tradition in Trinidad.
Carnival Music in Trinidad examines the history and aesthetics of calypso, steelband, soca, and other genres, relating musical structure, lyrics, sound, and style to the major roles they play in Trinidadian culture. It also analyzes how the instruments, sounds, and lyrics of Carnival music provide a sense of national and ethnic identity. Author Shannon Dudley describes calypso's traditional role as a voice for the common people, acknowledging the tensions between this history and calypso's ties to modern commercial music markets. He also presents the story of the steelband--an art form born in the most downtrodden neighborhoods of Port of Spain--as both a parable of the nation's struggles and successes and as a continuous process of musical exploration. Written in a lively style accessible to both students and general readers, Carnival Music in Trinidad features vivid eyewitness accounts and illustrations of performances. The book is packaged with a 40-minute CD containing examples of the music discussed in the text.


Shannon Dudley clearly grasps an essential point of calypso and Carnival in this fine little book, and that is that through tradition the people of Trinidad - at least Carnival devotees- are continuously asserting and reformulating their individual and social identities by signing, playing, and acting out masquerades. This compact handbook is good for students who want to begin the arcane journey into Trinidadian Carnival music. --Donald R. Hill, State University of New York

Table of Contents

    CD Track List
    1. Carnival and Society
    Trinidadian Society
    Trinidadian Carnival in the Nineteenth Century
    2. The Man of Words
    From Chantwell to Calypsonian
    The Lord Kitchener
    The Mighty Sparrow
    The Mighty Chalkdust
    David Rudder
    Singing Sandra
    3. Calypso in the Tent and on the Road
    The Tent
    The Road
    Rhythmic Feel
    4. The National Instrument
    Changing Perceptions
    The Instrument
    The Ensemble
    The Music
    5. Steelband Repertoire
    Music for the Road
    Music Festival
    The Bomb
    Framing Tradition
    6. Bacchanal Time
    Ragga Soca
    Chutney Soca
    Defining Musical Genres

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