Rhythm: Tradition Set to Music
Caribbean musical forms are markedly different from others. The characteristics of Caribbean musical genres are mostly derived from the African ancestry. However, certain rhythms, such as the Cuban danzon, the Puerto Rican danza, calypso in Trinidad and compas or kompa in Haiti, have a more pronounced European influence.
Calypso, which is similar to plena emerged on the island of Trinidad, possibly from 19th century slaves, as a voice for the people. With African and European influences, calypso was sung in French Creole and later in English with touches of patois, a mix of English, Spanish and French. Between 1920 and 1930, this musical form transcended the borders of Trinidad & Tobago; and by 1950, it had become popular in the United States.
The most universally renown of all Caribbean musical genres is Jamaican reggae . Pushed to the fore of international awareness by icons such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, reggae was fed by musical ancestors such as ska and rock-steady. It became known for its social content and its distinctive bass and percussion composition.
The rumba is synonymous with Cuba, and, like other Caribbean musical genres it has not lost its African musical origins. The rumba faced opposition in the 1800s due to its association with lower classes and was branded by some as vulgar. Today, the rumba enjoys an evolution with new forms — guaguancó, columbia and yambú. It is often part of folklore performances that help to preserve Cuban heritage.
Undoubtedly, all the aforementioned musical forms, as well as meringue and salsa, and all other Caribbean rhythms evince that the Caribbean continues to radiate musical joy. Though no longer as cries for freedom, but as the rhythms which move the entire world.