Caribbean Music Ethnography. Free Essay Sample

Published: 2023-07-31
Caribbean Music Ethnography. Free Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Music Culture Ethnography Caribbean
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1792 words
15 min read

Ethnography is the description of the culture, habits, customs, and different unique aspects of people based on their life. That is whereby the various attributes that add up to the unique nature of a community, region, or people are analyzed in detail. Different aspects can be described, such as customs, education, music, social interactions, and sport. That gives a better understanding of the people of interest. In this case, the issue of interest is music in the Caribbean region. That is because of the vast history it has got, and the significance it holds for the people there. The Caribbean region is famous for its music, which is part of the cultural activities they embrace in the course of their life. That is because of the significance that is attached to the music for a long time. The music has a long history, whereby it has evolved over time, changing in multiple ways but retaining its significance for the people. Therefore, it is of importance that the music is analyzed to get a better understanding of its composition evolution and significant aspects.

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The analysis of Caribbean music is based on the documentary, calypso, and our Caribbean fetish. It has a detailed description of Caribbean music under the calypso segment, which is famous in and outside the Caribbean region (Jeffrey Stillwell, 2017). That is because of its unique type of composition and playing, which is worth highlighting. Calypso music is a type of Afro-Caribbean type of music. That means that it combines the characteristics of African and Caribbean music styles. That is regarding its use of instruments and other musical attributes that the music is characterized with. In addition to the primary African and Caribbean music attributes, it also has some French language aspects and some jazz influence in the type of music that is played. That is whereby the original Africana and Caribbean aspects that were fused into a music style had the addition of French and other music styles. Therefore, when one listens to music, they can notice the various types of music attributes that music has. Majorly, that is based on the rhythm and the use of the instruments that the music is characterized with over a long time in the Caribbean region.

The influence of calypso music is massive, in history as well as during the current times. It laid the basis of the reggae type of music because it enhanced the fusion of multiple music styles, which the reggae music is based on. When one listens to reggae music, it can be noticed it is a fusion of various musical backgrounds. That is evident from the messages in the songs, which touch on cultural issues and beliefs. That highlights the effect of fusing different types of musical backgrounds into one. There are various influential individuals and music groups that are likened to the fusion of music styles. That has developed their style of music over time and gave them influence in music. First, is the group Vampire Weekend, whose style is based on the concept of calypso. The type of songs they compose has a fusion of various musical backgrounds, which help them relate to multiple regions, hence growing their influence. The band has grown on the basis of creating a fetish around the African music style. They fuse the African music style with some other musical backgrounds, a blend that produces a tremendous musical thrill.

Furthermore, there is a famous musician, Rihanna, who hails from the Caribbean region too. Her popularity is based on the concept of fusion, aided by calypso also. Over time, she has grown in terms of popularity, as more regions across the world like her music. It is all attributed to the concept of fusion, which makes music more acceptable across multiple areas. That is the concept on which calypso music is based. However, calypso is not an umbrella term used to describe the various afro-fusion music styles. It is a unique type of music, which originated from the Caribbean region. It is as a result of embracing multiple styles of music. It has evolved over time, which changes in technology and the preferences among the people that love the style of music across various regions worldwide.

The documentary highlights how the calypso genre of music ends up blending with the modern landscape of music. There is a highlight of the purpose of calypso music. That is the description of the primary reason that led to its establishment. Attainment, as opposed to entertainment, is the reason for the development of calypso music. That is highlighted through the various features of the music. First, there are the costumes that the artistes wear as they perform. The costumes are a reflection of the culture of the people. They reflect the rich culture, through the materials the costumes are made, to the colors, which are of significance. Therefore, it shows that they are proud of the basis upon which their music is made. They celebrate the attainment of the culture through music, and entertainment is a secondary aspect attached to their calypso genre. The documentary as an excerpt from “one hand don’t clap” 1991. It is a praise of the efforts that are made by the Caribbean people to shape their culture. There is the highlight of the moment when the calypso music started. Black slaves started it in Nigeria, where they used to compose cleverly concealed subjects to describe their masters. That was meant to take care of their welfare in their time of need. That was done through music, which was the start of calypso music, and hit has evolved. Through the slave trade, there was the movement of the slaves across various regions. Therefore, the original form of calypso blended with French genres. Calypso genre of music became a very significant aspect of the people then because it highlighted the various issues they faced. For example, the music could be relied on as a source of news, because it would communicate multiple problems that the people were facing. For instance, it highlighted the welfare of the significant events that affected the slaves’ masters. Politics, gossip, and scandals would be known from listening to music. Therefore, the genre grew over time, as the people appreciated its significance. One of the icons of calypso music was Harry Belafonte, as he incorporated various features in his music. In 1965, he had an album, which was the first to sell over a million copies. That highlighted the significance of the genre as it continued to grow.

I think various aspects of life are responsible for the type of music; calypso was being embraced in the Caribbean region. First is the fact that there was great diversity in the community. Majorly, that was because of the slave trade, where people from the various areas ended up together. That brought up the aspect of the fusion of multiple types of music styles. For example, as a result of the slave trade, Africa and became exposed to the French music culture. They embraced it, hence fused it into their music style. That led to the aspect of calypso, where it was based on more than one background of music. That has enhanced the growth and influence of the music. For example, according to the documentary, various popular groups have embraced the original style of afro-fusion in calypso. For example, there is a band- vampire weekend, which has taken the afro-fission form and developed its music. When one listens to the music composed by the group, it is noticed that there is an aspect of calypso trough afro-fusion. The other example in the documentary is Magic, a group that has adopted the calypso style in their music. That highlights the growth of calypso in the Caribbean region and its spread to other parts of the world.

Moreover, in the documentary, there is the highlight of the significance that the music served and continues to serve. First, it is the celebration of the Caribbean lifestyle and culture. That is through the lyrics of the songs and the costumes that the artistes wear. For example, there are unique colors that the costumes have, and the praise they have for their region. That is done through music, as it expresses their gratitude to other parts of the world. The other sign that is served by the music is political. The systems of governance and the plight of the people were expressed through the music. That created awareness and encouraged the people to engage in efforts that are meant to make their welfare much better. Therefore, it is evident that peoples’ behavior and priorities were highlighted through their music, which highlights its growth over time.

Conducting ethnographic research on the Internet was quite a fantastic experience. That is because of the various features that are available that are absent from other sources of information. For example, one is free to go over a point for as many times as they want. That enables them to have a better understanding of a given concept. That might not be available in other forms of research. For example, during an interview, an individual might feel disturbed when asked to repeat a given concept. Moreover, there is the convenience of learning the idea from the Internet at any time. That increases the level of an individual’s satisfaction. An individual is free to research the topic of interest, in this case, ethnography, at any time within their schedule. Furthermore, analyzing the documentary indoors has a lot of convenience because of the absence of any destruction. Outdoors, there are many inconveniences, which an individual might find hard to avoid. That may affect the quality of the research and analysis. However, the only limitation is the lack of required clarification of issues. That is because it is impossible to get in touch with the author of the documentary.

Caribbean music has a rich history, which stretches over a long time. That is from the origin of slaves to its fusion with other types of music. In the Caribbean region, it is part of their cultural treasure. That is because various aspects of their life are expressed through music. That has the effect of adding to its impact on them and other audiences. The music has grown from its roots of origin to other parts of the world, where multiple bands have adopted it. That has enhanced its growth and added to its rich history. There are various sources of the Caribbean music culture, which in this case, was in the form of a documentary. That enables multiple people to learn about it, and appreciate its evolution and significance over time.


Jeffrey Stillwell. (2017). Calypso and our Caribbean fetish. Retrieved from

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