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Steelpan , Calypso and the Calypsonian
Pan, Calypso and the Calypsonian

                                          A Recognition of the Calypsonian and Pan

CALYPSO - the predecessor of Reggae, Soca, Rapso, Chutney and other styles popular today. Song form native to Trinidad, originally improvised social commentary and medium of poor people's information, from West African praise singer (trad. recorder of tribal history, commentator, celebrator, satirist). Terms calypso and kaiso used interchangeably in Trinidad, where 'Kaiso!' is often heard in calypso tents as patrons wish to show approval: probably comes from West African Hausa term which depending on context can mean regret, triumph, contempt, etc. Possible derivations of 'calypso' incl. West African 'kaiso', French patois 'carrousseaux', Spanish 'caliso', Virgin Islands topical song 'careso', etc. First appeared 1900 spelled 'calipso'. According to legend, the first 'chantwell', or singer of what became calypso, was a slave, Gros Jean, in the late 18th century. Rhythms and melodies are predominantly African, but melodies infl. by nearby Venezuela: identified early 20th century by terms 'pasillo' or 'paseo', a Venezuelan dance form. Music of French, Irish and English origin has also been incorporated; French was basis of patois or Creole lyrics through 19th century.



Pan, Calypso and the Calypsonian
One cannot have a serious conversation about pan, and the development and history of the pan movement, without talking about the role of the first music of the steelpan - Calypso music, and of course, the Calypsonians.  Over the next few weeks WST will focus on these great griots and troubadours.
Send your articles and/or pictures for consideration to whensteeltalks@hotmail.com

Pan, Calypso and the Calypsonian


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