From our previous blog we’re sure you understood our crew had a great time in Trinidad and Tobago. While this is true, it can sometimes be difficult to explore the origins of instruments, festivals and songs. We’re going to take a deeper look at the origins of the music here.
Slavery in the Caribbean
Slavery is a hard subject to dive into, but is certainly cannot be brushed over. In the production of this project we have heard the stories of many oppressed peoples and nations. We have heard recounts of the most nightmarish things, and we have walked the halls of some truly haunting places. Slavery is a very ugly part of history. But it is just that, a part of history. It needs to be talked about, and music is an important vehicle for the conversation.
Through history, humans have come to rhythm for many things. We come to rhythm for communication, in times of celebration, and in the face of war and adversity. Rhythm has been an unwritten way to trace heritage for centuries, crossing border, continents, and seas.
Transatlantic Slave Trade
Over three million people were brought across the Atlantic to the Caribbean in what is known as the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This went on from the mid 1600’s through 1807. While the slave trade itself ended in 1807, entire populations were enslaved for centuries to come.
The horrific acts that Slaves endured on both sides of the Atlantic are unspeakable. Many written and spoken languages were lost. However, very fortunately, some rhythms lived on. Instruments like the Steel pan, the Cajon, and the Tamboo Bamboo were created from materials that were available and helped to bring the rhythms of Africa to this new world.
Music in the Caribbean
While people adjusted to their new normal they found ways to survive, communicate, and even celebrate. The people who settled in Trinidad and Tobago were the inventors of the Steel Pan, a drum made from 55 gallon drums that housed crude oil and chemicals. At the time slaves were not allowed to participate in Carnivale, so the celebration Canoublay was born. In 1880 the Canboulay Riots led to the ban of stick fighting and African Percussion. Following the ban, the Tamboo Bamboo was invented.
Since these times, the steel pan has evolved. Pannists come together in groups and play a multitude of instruments including Ping Pong Soprano, Invader Lead Soprano, Double Tenor Mezzo-soprano, and several more.
Thank you all for joining us. We love sharing pieces of our project with you all. Our crew is currently in Basel, Switzerland.