Creole and Post-Creole: The Music of Carnival

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Burton Sankeralli


We are accustomed to think of calypso as the music of Carnival; but this music itself has different roots. There was the music of the formerly enslaved, the music of the African peoples who came as indentured workers after slavery such as the Yoruba and the Rada; there was the music of the other islands from where many came as immigrants and with which there was significant cultural contact. It must here be remembered that some of the early calypsos were originally "folk songs" of Trinidad and other islands. Also, calypso is strongly rooted in the kalinda stick fight songs which were once very much the music of Carnival. Hence the emergence of the recognisable "Trinidad calypso" and its central place as the music of Carnival were the result of a complex folk pattern, one which indeed defines the Afro-Trinidadian community itself.

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