Music of the Bahamas

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Music of the Anglophone Caribbean
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Regional music
Local forms
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The music of the Bahamas is associated primarily with Junkanoo, a celebration which occurs on Boxing Day and again on New Year's Day. Parades and other celebrations mark the ceremony. Groups like The Baha Men, Ronnie Butler and Kirkland Bodie have gained massive popularity in Japan, the United States and other places. Other popular Bahamian artists include Stileet and Stevie S.

Contents

Calypso

Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music which originated in Trinidad and Tobago. This form of music has spread through many parts of the Caribbean, including The Bahamas.

Soca

Soca is a form of dance music which originated from many calypso music in Trinidad and Tobago. It originally combined the melodic lilting sound of calypso with insistent percussion (which is often electronic in recent music) and local chutney music. Soca music has evolved in the last 20 years primarily by musicians from various Anglophone Caribbean countries including Trinidad, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, United States Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica and Belize.

Junkanoo

Junkanoo celebration in Nassau Junkanoo.jpg
Junkanoo celebration in Nassau

The word Junkanoo is said to be derived from a Ghanaian leader, John Connu, or from the Qujo supreme deity (Canno) and ancestral spirits (jannanin). The junkanoo was formerly practiced in North Carolina and remnants still exist in Belize. It is most well known, though, from Nassau and Freeport. Since the 1950s the influence of American culture has increased, mainly through TV and radio broadcasts from Florida stations, and other Caribbean styles have made inroads: calypso, reggae and soca, from Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad, and other islands. Tourism has also had an impact, bringing in Japanese, European and North Americans with their attendant forms of cultural expression. In this milieu more traditional Bahamas performers such as Joseph Spence, have still enjoyed successful careers playing junkanoo, Christian hymns and the ant'ems of the local sponge fishermen, which include "Sloop John B", later made famous by The Beach Boys.

Junkane.

Junkanoo celebration in Nassau in 2003 Junkanoo2.jpg
Junkanoo celebration in Nassau in 2003

In 1973, the year the Bahamas achieved independence from the United Kingdom, black professionals of the middle and upper classes began to dominate junkanoo celebrations. Costuming and competitions became more complex and commonplace, and soon became a tourist draw.

Aside from being a type of drum, goombay is also a percussion music made famous by Alphonso 'Blind Blake' Higgs, who played to tourists arriving at Nassau International Airport for several years. Rake-and-scrape music is a unique type of instrumental music made by bending a saw and scraping with a small object, most typically a screwdriver; it is used to accompany dances derived from European forms like polka and waltz. Rake-and-scrape's popularity has been declining in recent years, but performers like Lassie Do and the Boys continue to keep the tradition alive. Christian rhyming spirituals and the ant'ems of sponge fishermen are now mostly dead traditions, decimated by the arrival of pop music, a 1930s sponge blight and other causes.

E. Clement Bethel's master's thesis on traditional Bahamian music was adapted for the stage by his daughter, Nicolette Bethel and Philip A. Burrows. Music of The Bahamas was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1991, and was revived in 2002 for fresh Bahamian audiences. A recording of that show is available for sale from Ringplay Productions.

Rake and scrape

Rake and scrape music is played traditionally with Concertinas, Goombay drums, and a Handsaw. Rake and scrape is believed to have originated on the island of Cat Island but evidence suggest that it was emerging in many places simultaneously. The earliest reference to usage of the accordion by Bahamians is in 1886 in an Article in the Nassau Guardian. The term rake and scrape became the norm in 1969 by Charles Carter although he claims the people of Cat Island were already calling it that when he visited the Island. [1] [2]

Organology of instruments

Membranophones: The Goombay drum is main rhythmic component in rake-n-scrape. It is also referred to a goatskin drum, as the skin of a goat was stretched over a wooden barrel. It is decorated by simple or complex geometric designs in bright colors. The drum is always heated over fire to retain its tone. In 1971, when manufacturers started shipping products in metal barrels, Bahamians switched the drum to metal, slightly changing the tone of the drum. [3]

Idiophones: The main component that makes Rake-N-Scrape unique is the use of the Carpenter's Saw. This instrument is scraped with a nail or butter knife. Bent against the body of the player and flexed, various timbral effects are obtained. [4] In more modern music, the saw is replaced with maracas or a guiro. [5]

Aerophones: The accordion is the component that adds the round form which enables dancers to dance the ring dance. This is of European descent. In more modern bands, it is replaced by an electric guitar or electronic keyboard. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Soca music is a genre of music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the early 1970s and developed into a range of styles during the 1980s and after. Soca was initially developed by Lord Shorty in an effort to revive traditional Calypso, the popularity of which had been flagging amongst younger generations in Trinidad due to the rise in popularity of Reggae from Jamaica and Soul and Funk from the USA. Soca is an offshoot of Kaiso/Calypso, with influences from Latin, Cadence, Funk and Soul.

The music of the Lesser Antilles encompasses the music of this chain of small islands making up the eastern and southern portion of the West Indies. Lesser Antillean music is part of the broader category of Caribbean music; much of the folk and popular music is also a part of the Afro-American musical complex, being a mixture of African, European and indigenous American elements. The Lesser Antilles' musical cultures are largely based on the music of African slaves brought by European traders and colonizers. The African musical elements are a hybrid of instruments and styles from numerous West African tribes, while the European slaveholders added their own musics into the mix, as did immigrants from India. In many ways, the Lesser Antilles can be musically divided based on which nation colonized them.

Junkanoo festive season which occurs on Boxing Day and New Years Day

Junkanoo is a street parade with music, dance, and costumes of mixed African origin in many islands across the English speaking Caribbean every Boxing Day and New Year's Day, the same as "Kakamotobi" or the Fancy Dress Festival of Ghana. These cultural parades are predominantly showcased in the Bahamas where the music is also mainstreamed. There are also Junkanoo parades in Miami in June and Key West in October, where local black populations have their roots in the Caribbean. In addition to being a culture dance for the Garifuna people, this type of dancing is also performed in The Bahamas on Independence day and other historical holidays.

The music of Bermuda is often treated as part of the Caribbean music area. Its musical output includes pop singer Heather Nova, and her brother Mishka. Collie Buddz has also gained international success with reggae hits in the US and the UK.

The music of Turks and Caicos Islands is best known for its ripsaw music. It is accompanied by an array of instruments, including maracas, triangles, box guitar, conga drums, goat and cowskin drums, accordion, concertina and, most prominently and uniquely, the carpenter saw.

The music of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines includes thriving music scenes based on Big Drum, calypso, soca, steelpan and also reggae. String band music, quadrille, bélé music and traditional storytelling are also popular.

Music of Saint Kitts and Nevis

The music of Saint Kitts and Nevis is known for a number of musical celebrations including Carnival. The last week in June features the St Kitts Music Festival, while the week-long Culturama on Nevis lasts from the end of July into early August.

The music of Antigua and Barbuda is largely African in character, and has only felt a limited influence from European styles due to the population of Antigua and Barbuda descending mostly from West Africans who were made slaves by Europeans.

Rake-and-scrape is a genre of music native to the Bahamas. Its main instruments are associated with the Goombay drum, Accordion also known as a Concertina, and a Hand saw.

"King" Eric Gibson was a Bahamian musician and entrepreneur. He was also the semiofficial Ambassador of Bahamian Goodwill.

Bahamian culture is a hybrid of African, European, and other cultures.

Avvy is a songwriter and performer contributing to the art of Bahamian folk music, Junkanoo and Rake-and-scrape. In 2014 his singles "Dirty Nagua Rake" and "Swing Swing" took top position in the local Bahamian charts.

Blake Alphonso Higgs, better known as "Blind Blake", was the best-known performer of goombay and calypso in the Bahamas from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Macfarlane Gregory Anthony Mackey, known professionally as Tony McKay and Exuma, was a Bahamian musician, artist, playwright and author best known for his almost unclassifiable music, a strong mixture of carnival, junkanoo, calypso, reggae, African music and folk music. His lyrics were deeply immersed in the West African and Bahamian tradition of Obeah, a system of spiritual and healing practices developed among enslaved West Africans in the West Indies, practiced by many on the islands of The Bahamas.

Goombay is a form of Bahamian music and a drum used to create it. The drum is a membranophone made with goat skin and played with the hands.

Patrick "Rik" Carey is a Bahamian music producer, singer, musician, and the lead vocalist for the junkanoo band Baha Men, with the hit song "Who Let the Dogs Out?".

Bahamian Cuisine is to the foods and beverages of The Bahamas. It includes seafood such as fish, shellfish, lobster, crab, and conch, as well as tropical fruits, rice, peas, pigeon peas, potatoes, and pork. Popular seasonings commonly used in dishes include chilies, lime, tomatoes, onions, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, rum, and coconut. Rum-based beverages are popular on the island. Since the Bahamas consist of a multitude of islands, notable culinary variations exist.

ZNBN-FM radio station

ZNBN-FM is a radio station in Nassau, Bahamas broadcasting a Caribbean Music, Bahamian Junkanoo and rake-and-scrape radio format.

References

  1. Rommen, Timothy (19 May 2011). Funky Nassau: Roots, Routes, and Representation in Bahamian Popular Music. ISBN   9780520265684.
  2. http://www.bahamasentertainers.com/Paper/rkeNscr.html
  3. Ingraham 368
  4. Ingraham 369
  5. Rommen 173
  6. Ingraham 369