Here is some more #isolationcontent.
This video tells the story of the popular Bajan Dub/Bashment Soca in 5 minutes.
Here is some more #isolationcontent.
This video tells the story of the popular Bajan Dub/Bashment Soca in 5 minutes.
I had to create some content for my elective course.
I thought I would share it with you guys.
There is a song called “In Time to Come” by Crazy. In it he lists numerous events that he thinks will happen. Check it out below.
For those unfamiliar, or those that just can’t be bothered to listen, Crazy makes a number of claims. Like,
1. The coming of a black President. Which he was right about.
2. Trinidad developing a nuclear program. Which I am not sure about.
3. A computer writing calypso. Which is what this blog is all about.
Because Crazy was right. The age of the Mighty Microchip or Lord AI is definitely upon us. How may you ask?
Because modern calypso is a cliche with repeated ways of doing things. And computers love cliches.
Let me show you.
1. Horns come the same place.
Since the rise of Soca, calypso has become a very predictable form. Firstly, most of them feature horns. These horns play the same role in all the songs. So for example, all songs have band choruses, melodies and sections where horns fill the spaces. So let me demonstrate this by using what has become the template for female calypso songs, Die With My Dignity by Singing Sandra.
The band chorus here plays the melody of the chorus at the beginning of the song and after each sung chorus. Here it is separated.
The horns also play in between the vocal phrases. And believe me, the majority of the melodic verse phrases last for four beats and the horns then play for two beats. Check below:
Since the birth of Soca 40 years ago, calypso has come to live in a particular tempo range, that is 85 to 120 b.p.m.
All calypsos these days are in major or harmonic minor. In addition to this, since the Chalkdust years, a particular harmonic progression has become prominent. Of course, this is too much to explain here in this blog, but I will be releasing some videos to prove this. But trust me, the harmony is very much cliche as well.
Calypso uses three basic drum patterns these days.
Lyrics have been seen to be the centrepiece of the calypso. However, like all good things, they have become cliche. The majority of well-written calypsos are based on the working class point of view on politics, world events. Calypsonians these days take the topic and use everyday objects as a metaphor to frame the argument. To get what I am talking about, take the Chalkdust song Chauffeur Wanted, as he is a leading practitioner of this type of calypso.
The same can be said of Red Plastic Bag, a noted admirer of Chalky.
Ok, Stefan, you have identified the cliche but how do you code all of this?
By laying out the rules, of course! Check these basic functions.
Most people know of musicians; in fact, some even know them.
And when I speak about musicians, I am not speaking about lead singers* or DJs.
I am speaking about those who spend their days trying to manipulate sound using instruments.
But what do musicians actually do?
Here is a meme that shows what I am talking about.
This meme is funny because it is pretty much true.
So this post is going to show you where the truth lies when it comes to Caribbean musicians.
In the Caribbean, musicians do one of the following.
I know there are other careers within the wide world of music but generally speaking jobs like acoustic engineers, instrument builders are generally found elsewhere.
Musicians who perform for a living. Do the following:
Musicians and singers from Handel’s Caribbean Messiah
Teaching is a big part of musican’s income. Musicians either teach privately, as in one-on-one lessons like piano lessons or they are connected to institutions which provide them with a part-time or in other cases, a full-time salary.
Producing and arranging
Musicians can also be found in the studio where they produce music for records and public release. Given how the technology works, musicians usually produce in small bedroom studios or sometimes just using a laptop or keyboard. The same is for arrangers, who write out music on paper for bands who need a laptop and scoring program. It must be said that in the English-speaking Caribbean outside of Jamaica, most of this work is seasonal and connected to Carnivals. This means that studios are hardly sustainable unless they do commercial work which is decreasing.
In truth, to be called a musician in the Caribbean you have to do a mixture of at least 2 of the above. The economies are way too small to accommodate specialists. This means when you see a working musician; they always tell you how busy they are.
*unknown singers could enter the musician fold as well.
Jab Jab is a certified sub-genre of modern Soca
The Jab character is a staple of J’ouvert carnival celebrations and looks like the guy below.
The music itself is characterised by melodies with small ranges usually in minor with little harmonic movement. Check a Jab classic by the Grenadan boss Tall Pree below which explains the whole thing.
When it comes to Jab Jab tunes, the certified capital of the world is Grenada. and no one does Jab Jab like them.
So here are some of my favourite Jab Jab tunes from Grenada carnival 2017. ENJOY!
Last month I contributed to an article written by Sharine Taylor from Noisey.
Here is the link.
*Nah Going Home is actually 11 years old but born after the school year…;)
Since 2005, and the explosion of Rihanna, Barbados has had its fair share of showcases.
Since the economic slowdown these have thankfully slowed down but they still do occasionally turn up with talking heads with American accents saying the same thing.
As I have been to a few of these and done a fair bit of reading on the American industry scene, I consider it my civic duty to tell you why these showcases make no sense and will make no difference to your career unless you require 1 hr of free air conditioning.
It is hoped that those that read this save themselves the trouble, including the suits with the government checkbooks.
So check this list as to why these Showminars make no sense.
They are not going to sign you.
Listen up artist, some might say this directly but they are not going to sign you. So ladies save your short skirts and designer hair for another occasion,
the guys that come here seldom have the power to sign unilaterally.
In fact, they are not going to take a risk on an unknown artist with no following from a tiny island, Rihanna is there already, see # 2.
Rihanna is there already
There is no next Rihanna, she is there already. The industry has changed so much in 12 years and they certainly do not need another unknown Caribbeanish artist who does hip-hopish, rapish, EDMish, and whatever ish Rihanna cares to dabble with. They certainly do not want to take that risk and expense, especially given the corporitization of the American music industry complex.
You know what they will say already.
They are going to tell you build a fan base and they are NOT going to help you do it!
By the way, this is a favourite workshop topic so let me break down what they will/wouldn’t say and then what you should do.
(a) What they will say –
Go online! Post, tag, share then post agian. Do it like Justin Beiber and this indie group or that indie group on YouTube/Vimeo/Mashable and hashtags.
What they didn’t tell you –
(b) Content creation is expensive and time consuming. No rich uncle? Forget it.
What you should do – Read this Kindle book instead.
They are not going to network with you. GET LOST!
These ‘execs’ do not want to hear from you. They do not want to hear from your manager either. They already have their artist stable and are currently hustling any which way to survive in the new music territory they are now in. So guys, they definitely do not want another email clogging up their inbox or another CD or poster to recycle. You are merely networking with their spam folder.
You are not going to get the acclaim for the next Rihanna (governments only).
These execs are not going to sign anyone, see #1. Therefore, in your report to the boss government official, while you may highlight the promise the exec said local artists have, that is all you will be able to write.
And if by pig flight they did sign an artist, that artist will be relocated with the maximum benefit going to L.A or New York.
So that my friends is the 5 point list as to why the exec showcase seminar or Showminats make no sense.
The only worthy showcses are those with a direct objective, that is those which are looking for talent for specific events/shows etc. So a NACA and cruise ship audition make far more sense for everyone than sitting with a guitar and an uncomfortable musician playing a cajon in front of A & R from Atalanta/MotownWhatever records.
You are welcome
Caribbean Music Man
* NACA is the National Association of College Activities
I am working on a documentary on the Bajan duo Contone and Pong along with the team from 13 Degrees North and Stuart Hall. For those who are wondering why, it is because this year marks 10 years since Contone’s mega-hit My Car Brek Down and we want to show what happened after.
Look out for a realease late in the year.
Edwin Yearwood emerged to real popularity in the mid 1990s with his band Krosfyah. Since then, he has produced some of the biggest popular music hits in Barbados. He simply rocks, here is his Top 10.
10. Sak Pase
Done with co-lead singer Khiomal of Krosfyah, this duet uses “hello Haitian style” as its hook. It actually uses a blues form as well which is rather different (along with copious cowbell which is not very different). The Sak Pase dance was also huge and when this song is played in Barbados it is mandatory.
Edwin Yearwood won the Pic-O-De-Crop competition which is primarily a calypso competition using this up-tempo soca number. It was also on his seminal album with Krosfyah, Ultimate Party/Pump Me Up, which was a massive seller for the genre. Due to its significance it gets a place here.
Krosfyah Massive is from the same period as Obadele and for me it marked the first time I heard the group doing their own material. This turned out to be Edwin’s first hit of many.
Nah Missing Me
Edwin Yearwood is one of the major innovators of the sub-genre Ragga/Groovy/Sweet soca. This song was released years after the genre came into popular existence and typifies Edwin’s style with call and response and short motifs.
This song was one which came after Pump Me Up in the early days of Ragga/Groovy/Sweet soca. It is still popular throughout the region despite being nearly 20 years old.
5. Down the Road
Edwin Yearwood won the Barbadian Party Monarch competition with this song. This one is the other spectrum of his material and is a typical Brancker fast soca of the late 1990’s. Once again it typifies his strong call and repsonse style chorus and verse.
4. In the Middle of the Road
The Road March song is the most popular song played by bands at the climax of Carnival. Edwin won several in the mid-noughties all speaking about roads. This song shows a departure from his late 1990s work as he basically sings over a rhythm track.
This is another Ragga/Groovy/Sweet soca. Call and response is heavily used again with the trademark Brancker style.
Yardie was released for the 1990s Congaline festival. This song is one of the biggest nostalgia party songs for the over 30s and it still rocks a fete to this day. It also spawned a Yardie Graduate 10 years later which though cool, could not make this list.
1. Pump Me Up
This song is possibly Edwin’s biggest. It spawned a new vocal approach to singing soca and ushered in the Ragga/Groovy/Sweet soca genre.
A massive song!