The Authorship of Calypso

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Name: Akila Mc Eachnie Course Code: CARN 1701 Course Name: Carnival and Society Lecturer: Dr. Ann Lee and Team Date: 17th November, 2011 Topic: Carnival and Race: The Authorship of Calypso The Authorship of Calypso Trinidad Carnival is proclaimed to be the “greatest show on earth” by many, locally and abroad. This show emerged as a result of the merging of cultural practices, symbols and traditions of the different races that occupied the land from colonization to pre-emancipation to post emancipation. Race is a controversial term with regards to its definition. Race in the context of this essay will be considered from a “colonial” viewpoint. Therefore race here is “assumed to be biological, fixed, or immutable(primordial) so that any attempt to treat it as a social construction is resisted vigorously by those who have a great deal of emotion invested in notions of racial purity and associated concepts of cultural superiority” (Allahar, 1996). This is the view held by many Trinidadians today. Race here refers to ones physical genetic makeup which includes skin colour, hair texture and shape of noise amongst others things. Calypso music was and still is an integral tradition of Trinidad’s carnival. The term “calypso” itself is debatable as there are many theories about the origin of the word. It may have came from the French word “carrousseaux” meaning a drinking party or festivity, the Carib word “carieto” which means a joyous song , the Spanish word “caliso” which means a topical song or the West African (Hausa) word “kaiso” which means bravo. The most widely accepted explanation is that it came from “kaiso”. The art form itself was distinctly shaped by the enslaved Africans out of the music, structure and function of their ancestral musical practices. Calypsos in their earliest stages of inception were songs accompanied by rhythmic percussive music

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