Calypso and the
Pan, Calypso and the Calypsonian
A Recognition of the Calypsonian and Pan
- the predecessor of
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.
WHEN STEEL TALKS
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Pan, Calypso and the
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.
Calypso and the Calypsonian