Caribbean Music

Caribbean Music Caribbean Music

University of Kentucky MUS 360: Dr. Wang

World Music Team Project

Kellie Moses, Natalie Kem, Heather Combs, Chrissy Mathis

CARIBBEAN HISTORY:The Caribbean Islands have a very uinique and interesting history. The Islands were founded by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Columbus named the Islands after the Caribs, a cannibalistic, warlike tribe of Indians who inhabited the Islands.

In the 1700’s the economy of the Islands was based on Sugar Plantations. The plantation owners were wealthy European or American immigrants, with the primary laborers being slaves from Africa, and freed Creole slaves who came to the Islands looking for work as bondsmen. After the slaves were freed, the planation owners tried using indentured servants to work their land, but because they treates these servants no better than slaves, this practice did not last very long.

Education was very important to the Islanders. Wealthy land owners sent their sons and daughters to Europe and British North America to receive an education. Those who couldn’t afford to send their children off to school educated them in small public schools run by the church. The primary religions in the Caribbean Islands were Church of England, Baptist, Wesleyan, and Presbeteryan.

Today, 85% of the Islands economy is made from tourism. Tourists come from all over the world to celebrate with the Islanders in large celebrations of music, dancing, and food.

Click here for a history of the Bahamas


Calypso music, aka. Goombay music, can be compared to the blues of the deep south during slavery. It was used as the way to eas the woes of the oppressed and as a means of communication amongst slaves.

Soca, a form of calypso, is the rhythmical fusion of soul and calypso.

Ska is first and foremost dance music. it was a Jamaican dance music that swept out of Jamaica in the early 1960’s aka blue beat music. The ska beat on drums and bass, rhythm guitar and lots of horns.

Reggae is an offshot of ska that developed in late 1960’s

Junkanoo: a mix of Afro-Bahamian music and dance, began with the slaves who were given three days off at Christmas. This is when they performed Junkanoo. Junkanoo went into decline after slavery was abolished and became all but extinct in areas of the caribbean where it once flourished. The Bahamas alone kept the memory alive and is now the only country to continue the tradition in an annual festival of national significance. In the past they used Junkanoo as a way of letting off steam. Nowdays Junkanoo is an organized parade through the main streets of Nassau. The music has changed little since the early days with goatskin leather drums, cowbells and whistles, and improvised homemade instruments such as bike horns, wheel rims and conch shells.

Click on pictures for links to Junkanoo:


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