A Very Brief History of Calypso and Soca Music

Published June 25, 2014 by soundquake

History from the bass

Sharp and Pointed

Cover of "The Bassist's Bible: How to Play Every Bass Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco(Excerpted from The Bassist’s Bible: How to Play Every Bass Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco (2nd ed.), by Tim Boomer. This material originally appeared in slightly different and shorter form in The Drummer’s Bible (2nd ed.), by Mick Berry and Jason Gianni. All chapters in both books begin with brief histories of the styles covered.)

Caribbean music is the result of the fusion of many different musical cultures, including South American, Cuban, African, North American, and even European. The compositions, rhythms, and instruments (such as the signature steel drums) which characterize Caribbean music, sometimes referred to as “Island Music,” usually reflect a celebratory atmosphere. In keeping with Island Music’s upbeat, danceable nature, most Caribbean music is rather simple rhythmically and does not usually stray outside of 4/4.

This chapter explores the most commonly played styles within the broad Caribbean-music classification: Calypso, Soca, Ska, and Reggae.

The role of the…

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