• The Caribbean/Latin America


    Fast Facts:

    • The Caribbean is made up of volcanic islands, coral reefs, ocean ridges, trenches, and basins. 
    • Spain, England, France, and Holland all explored and settled the West Indies. Many of the native populations were either wiped out by disease or merged into the population. Later, as agriculture like sugar cane developed, slaves from Africa were brought to the islands as workers. 
      • The Bahamas, located off Florida's coast, is composed of about 700 islands.
      • Cuba is the largest island and its official language is Spanish.
      • Jamaica's official language is English, but many speak a Creole dialect.
      • Haiti's official languages are French and Creole.
      • Puerto Rico is a possession of the United States. Spanish is the major language, though English is a required second language.
      • Trinidad and Tobago are famous for steel bands, calypso, and carnival.

    Music of the Caribbean/Latin America: Characteristics

    •  Music is used for a wide variety of purposes such as:
      • Recreation - dancing, singing, drumming, concerts
      • Rituals and ceremonies - celebrating the life cycle, national functions, medical rites, religious gatherings, and celebrations such as Carnival (similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans)
      • Occupational - work songs, preparing food, entertaining tourists (a major source of income)
      • Social - child care, story telling, social games, parties
    • Caribbean music is an interesting mixture of the musics of West Coast Africa and Europe

      •  West Coast African Music
        • Drum, bells, rattles
        • Call and Response
        • Complementary layered rhythms
        • Time line (often played by bell)
        • Polyrhythms (3 against 2)
        • Syncopation (off-beat accents)
        • Dance Music 
         European Music
        • Harmony (chords, keys)
        • Guitars, keyboards, basses
        • Major/minor scales
        • Band and orchestral instruments
        • Meter (also some 3 against 2)
        • Wordy ballads (story songs)
        • Dance music 

    • Important Dance rhythms or songs associated with Caribbean countries and Brazil:
      • Bolero - a Cuban medium slow 4-beat ballad usually featuring a vocal soloist
      • Bomba - an Afro-Puerto Rican popular dance style named after the drums performing the dances
      • Bossa Nova - a new Brazilian dance influence by Cuban bolero and U.S. cool jazz
      • Calypso - a style of song from Trinidad often made up on the spot about topical events
      • Cha cha chá - a relaxed 4-beat dance from Cuba made popular by the Charanga orchestras
      • Mambo - a 4-beat Cuban dance similar to the cha cha chá, but played faster
      • Merengue - the national dance of the Dominican Republic; bands feature piano, horn section (saxophones, brass)
      • Plena - an Afro-Puerto Rican song with verse/chorus structure often performed with accordion
      • Rumba - a 4-beat Afro-Cuban combination of rhythms, dancing, and singing (one or more lead singers and a chorus in call and response form) common at parties.
      • Salza or Salsa - a new name for Latin American music with its roots in Cuban music and jazz
      • Samba - the best known rhythm  from Brazil danced and sung during Carnival
      • Son - a Cuban ensemble piece played by guitars and percussion instruments

    Instruments of Latin America 

    Latin American Musical Instruments include a wide variety of traditional and modern instruments influenced by African, European, and Native peoples who settled there.

    Idiophones (Main parts vibrate)

    Agogo Bell - a high-pitched double bell played with a stick; a relative of the African gankogui
    Cabasa (or cabaca) - a rattle the comes in two forms - traditional and modern. The traditional cabasa is a pear-shaped gourd with ridges running down its length; a netting of beads over the gourd is held in the palm of one hand while the other twists the gourd handle back and forth. The modern cabasa is a wooden wheel with a handle attached; around the wheel are metal beads which are played in the same fashion as the traditional cabasa.   cabasa modern cabasa
    Claves - two round sticks about 6- inches long made of a hard wood. One is held in the trough of a hand while the other is used to hit it. Claves often play the timeline in Latin American music.   claves
    Cowbell - a single bell played with a stick   cowbell
    Guiro - a notched gourd scraped with a stick or metal whisk; often decorated in the form of a fish    guiro
    Maracas - a pair of small gourd rattles with the sot/beads on the inside    maracas
    Quijada or Vibraslap  - The quijada in traditional form is a mule jawbone with loose teeth that rattle when hit. The vibraslap, its modern counterpart, is played the same way.    vibraslap
    Steel Drums - a relative newcomer of a musical instrument where the tops of large steel oil drums were heated and hammered to produce a metal instrument with a complete scale played with mallets. Today they come in all sizes and pitch ranges.   Steel Drum
    Xylophones and marimbas - wooden keys played with mallets; may have gourd or other types of resonators under each key. In central America there are marimbas large enough to be played by four or more people at once   Xylophone  

    Membranophones (membrane vibrates)

     Bongos - two small drums (higher and lower) attached to each other and either held between the knees or mounted on a stand; usually played with hands  Bongos
     Congas - come in three sizes - tumba (largest), conga (medium), and quinto (smallest); originally each drum was played by a separate player, but in most situations today, one player plays both tumba and conga at the same time  Congas
    Cuica - a strange single-headed drum found in many Brazilian samba ensembles; it has a small stick which is fastened to the middle of the inside of the drum head; a barking dog sound is produced by rubbing a damp cloth along the stick. You can make some related sounds by moving a straw up and down in the hole of a plastic lid on a fast food drink  Cuica
    Timbales - consists of two single-headed metal drums on a stand played with sticks  timbales
     Tubanos - single-headed cylindrical drums with 10, 12, and 14 inch head  tubano

    Aerophones (air column vibrates)

     Flutes - natural wooden flutes of all sorts are played throughout Latin America flute
    Panpipes - a bundle of reeds of hollow wooden tubes of graduated lengths; played by blowing over the top panpipes
     Trumpets, saxophones, and other "horns" - commonly found in modern bands throughout Latin America

    Chordophones (string(s) vibrates)

     Guitars - entire families of guitars (from bass to high soprano) brought over from Spain and Portugal are commonly played in all types of music Guitar  
     Harps - are common and come in many different sizes
     String Basses - are found in many forms String Bass
     Violins - are common  violin


    Water Come A Me Eye                                                                                                                                 Trinidad 

    1.   Ev'ry time I remember Liza, Water come a me eye,
          Ev'ry time I think of Liza, Water come a me eye. 
                   Come back Liza, come back gal, Water come a me eye,
                   Come back Liza, come back gal, Water come a me eye. (2 times) 
    2.   I still waitin' at home for Liza, Water come a me eye,
          Heart is sore but waitin' Liza, Water come a me eye. 
                   Come back Liza, come back gal, Water come a me eye,
                   Come back Liza, come back gal, Water come a me eye. (2 times) 

     Pay Me My Money Down                                                                                                                           Caribbean

    1.   I thought I heard the big boss say,
                "Pay me my money down,
          Pay me or go to jail,
                Pay me my money down." 
          Pay me, O pay me,
                Pay me my money down,
          Pay me or go to jail,
                Pay me my money down. 
    2.   I thought I heard the crew men say,
                "Pay me my money down,
          Pay me or go to jail,
                Pay me my money down." 
          Pay me, O pay me,
                Pay me my money down,
          Pay me or go to jail,
                Pay me my money down. 
Last Modified on April 12, 2015