I had to create some content for my elective course.
I thought I would share it with you guys.
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.
Caribbean festivals (including Crop Over) are propelled by spirits with the biggest fuel being rum.
Over the years many artists have dedicated songs to this deity. Here are 10 of the best:
Chutney Soca is possibly the rum genre of the Caribbean. This one by Ravi B from 2010 also manages to include the marriage scenario, another common theme. One of my favourite songs period.
Contone was a part-time singer and full-time car washer from Barbados. Through the years he has scored some massive hits at Crop Over with his rum lyrics. This Bashment Soca number, “I Like Drinking Rum,” is fairly direct. You also get a two for one in this video as he throws in, “Fire in the Hole” (Live I may add).
The first of our Christmas rum songs is sung by Barbadian DaCosta Allamby speaking of how important it is to consume rum in large quantities. *Warning, drinking a gallon of rum is never advised.
Lord Kitchener, another artist from the Trinidad carnival canon, is not to be left out. This one is another Christmas song and rum classic. The name speaks for itself.
This song from 2014 comes from the biggest soca artist from St. Lucia, Ricky “One to Dem” T. As it is new, it does not have the legacy of the others on this list. However, this is still a ‘big tune’ from the Helen of the West.
The Mighty Sparrow is one of the most prolific artists in Calypso and Soca. This one is a favourite among the mature crowd throughout the English-speaking Caribbean and speaks to being drunk and disorderly. It won the Road March in 1972, showing that unruly behaviour fuelled by alcohol has always been part of carnival.
USVI Soca has one of the most fascinating soca sub-genre scenes. This riddim is just called Rum and Rave.
To back up my point about Chutney’s relationship with rum, here is another one by Adesh Samaroo where he confirms his “undying” relationship with it.
Gorg is known as the drinks boss in Barbados and this song from 2014 is but one in his catalogue. Borrowing from the Chutney approach, Gorg uses the rum-troubled-relationship theme.
Machel Montano is another massively popular Trinidadian artist. Here is Bottle of Rum, a soca song off the hugely successful 3Zero riddim from 2012. Love and/of rum are again the themes.
Can you add any more?
* Stefan Walcott does not condone mass consumption of spirits of any kind. This post was not sponsored by any beverage retailer, the Holy Spirit or any other related product (although a donation would now be welcomed…;)
I am very proud to announce that Handel’s Caribbean Messiah has been selected for the Handel-Festspiele in Halle Germany for 2021.
The Handel-Festspiele is an annual festival celebrating Handel’s music in his birthplace by local German and international acts.
I am incredibly moved by this selection as we were chosen based on my re-imagining, orchestrations and in some cases compositions, with the performances executed by a 100% Barbadian cast.
The fact that this was done by a panel of Handel experts makes the achievement even more rewarding. Also, the fact that the negotiations began through my completion of the Caribbean Export process, which involved some sacrifice, made me more reassured in my music business decisions.
Handel’s Caribbean Messiah is one of the only locally created indigenous works that brings the strands of Caribbean culture together and even though we might not make the last financial hurdle to reach Halle, the fact that it has been looked at as having international quality by unbiased experts shows how we should rely on our own confidence as Caribbean cultural practitioners in what we do.
I encourage all who are in Barbados this week, December 20-22nd, to come out to the Frank Collymore Hall and see this production that will soon be leaving these shores by the 100% Bajan ORIGINAL cast.
Thanks to my team who supported the dream and to Fran Wickham and Ronald Grant whose support allowed for the first staging of the production in 2017. Also to Carol Roberts who was enthusiastic about it when it was only an idea and suggested the use of a Bajan nation language narrator who is now Jabari Prince Browne.
One of my life dreams was to write for an international symphonic orchestra. Because of the work of the Barbados Embassy in Brazil, I was finally granted that opportunity.
Here is Emmerton, the Barbadian iconic piece written by Dr Anthony ‘Gabby’ Carter and orchestrated by me with ideas from my previous string arrangement for my mentor Nicholas Brancker. (some chords and voicings heard here are ABSOLUTELY him.)
Big thanks to Ambassador Sealy-Thompson.
PS – I was hoping there would be a drumset there but the space for the Tuk Band Waltz is obvious.
There has been some debate on the use of plates or riddims within Soca.
For those who do not know, plates/riddims are instrumental tracks.
The unique thing with plates/riddims is that unlike other types of popular music, the same instrumental track can be used by multiple artists to create different songs.
The innovators of plates were the producers in downtown Kingston. One of the most famous uses of these plates/riddims is with the Sleng Teng riddim, a dancehall staple.
As all the songs have the same instrumental backing, as in the Sleng Teng Riddim, Djs generally find them easier to mix (to transition from one song to the next). Kingstonian sound system operators, who were also record producers, realised this early on and they all made the recording of plates a priority within their work.
The penetration of Jamaican music into the rest of the Caribbean as well as the rise of the DJ within Soca made the introduction of the riddim concept inevitable. However, this practice is more frowned upon in Soca than in Jamaica because:
My personal view on riddims is a realistic one; they are here as a result of the modern carnival scene. Will they be around forever? Nothing lasts forever but possibly a while to come as the economy and value for producer buck make them attractive.
Are they any worse than what went before? I never try to judge that way cause the older I get, the better my youth music used to be, but what I can tell you is that
The last point shows that even within the same instrumental, there is still much divergence. Here are two songs I love on the same riddim.
So until global popularity switches from the DJ, look out for them for a while longer.
One of the biggest hits for Carnival 2019 is Mr Killa’s Run Wid It.
For those unfamiliar with the style, it is referred to as Jab, a sub-genre of soca which I posted on before. In terms of soca, there are no better musical sub-generes suited to talk about spiritual possession more than Jab because Jab, for all intents and purposes is possession/trance music. It ticks all the boxes. For example:
To see what I mean check the music from Cuban Santeria below:
It is obvious, Jab is meant to induce possession.
The psycho-acoustic explanation for this is that the repeated patterns lead to less distraction which in turn can manipulate the trance-like state. For the more spiritual, these rhythms carry with them certain deities and given the reaction to this song, I think the latter definitely has a point. Check below:
So that my friends a brief look at Jab and its relation to possession music. Whenever this song plays, just be careful, it is meant to take a HOLD of you.
Have a great and musical 2019 everyone.
Here is an artist I recently came across.
She has successfully managed to pair her traditional culture with American music.
What a great example!
Check her clip below.
I saw this video below today.
And it has gone viral.
For those who don’t know, going viral is when a lot of people watch your content, and in his case some quarter of a million shares on Facebook alone.
The fact that this video had so many views will obviously offend some artists. All the techie videos on YouTube will tell you that this track is poorly produced, not mastered, has poor editing and isn’t even in time.
But you know what, and this is what I want whoever reads here to leave with:
GOING VIRAL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH QUALITY!
Going viral has everything to do with DIFFERENT. BEING WAY DIFFERENT! (or having millions of dollars)
For example, a cat eating a mouse will not go viral. However, a cat eating a Mouseketeer might. Similarly, a plus-sized black female singer belting Amazing Grace with all the vocal tradition that is impeccably recorded will not go viral, however, a poorly recorded Chinese child in a village singing, in the same manner, WILL definitely be shared on millions of pages.
So artists, unless you are truly willing to be odd-ball or you embody the tradition of another culture, you can give up your dreams of being shared and liked and trolled.
Just keep focussed and remember with each post what you are hoping to achieve, if it is just to let others know you still exist or to get a specific gig, then that is cool. In fact, on a personal level, I prefer just one like than to have a production like “Take you to the movies”
It is so catchy though!!! Maybe I should re-think that.
Below is a cat viral video compilation that has more views than any of my work combined x 10.