Music is defined as an artist’s expression of life’s experiences, his realisations, feelings related to people and events etc. through the usage of musical notes in voice and instruments.
Music is a by-product of the social, economic and cultural state of a community. It is shaped by the people of the communities who are the practitioners and pioneers of the form of music. Music as a consequence of its intrinsic linkage with a period in history of a place, socio-economic status of its people, is categorised into different genres based on the race and class of people.
It is a subjective, shared mental conduct by an aggregation that sometimes defines a community’s boundaries (Aho 1). It is a social phenomenon painting a picture of the society, its practices, beliefs, values, traditions and other minute details of its life style. Music of a particular region and era contains vital information about the thoughts and beliefs of its people.
The Culture of Music: Drumming
Drumming is considered an integral part of culture of Trinidad and Tobago. Located off the south eastern coast of North America close to the Bahamas in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago’s musical history dates back to the years of its rule by the British and Spaniards. Music was used as a channel of self expression and a means of social and intellectual liberation.
The history of Trinidad and Tobago has seen colonisation by the British and the Europeans. This is quite evident in the demographic mix of races, religions and communities of people. Music is deeply associated with caste, colour and race as at some point or the other people from different backgrounds have alternate ways of thinking and applying music.
The country’s population consists of Christians (50%), Hindus (25%) and mixed races (Europeans, Whites etc.). Half of the population are Trinidadians, the rest are Afro-Trinidadians (African in origin) and the remaining are of mixed origin (Aho 20). The music world has seen extensive use of percussive elements in compositions from around the world. Amongst the genres of music that rely on heavy usage of percussion are Reggae, Hip Hop, Rap, Native Caribbean Folk Music and Latin American Music. The emphasis on rhythm and percussive elements in musical compositions and performances is a trademark of music from the Latin American, Caribbean and European regions. Trinidad and Tobago’s music history also has the roots of percussion dominance in music embedded in the culture and tradition. The Origin and Evolution of the Steel Drum: an essential component of Caribbean Music The steel drum has its origin in the economically backward areas of the capital city: Port of Spain. The steel drums that we know today had its origins in the capital city and were made by young men with basic education, hailing from underprivileged families. The selling of steel drums was there only source of major income bringing them livelihood and giving them a source of income. The steel drums were made in a low cost method from used cans, tar oil cans, tin sheets and open ended steel vessels. They were fitted with tuning pegs and came with wooden sticks for the purpose of striking. The earliest version of steel drum lacked the features that would allow it to be tuned or its tone modified in any way. It was a monotone and a rustic instrument sold by street sellers and hawkers (Aho 2). With time the instrument underwent several modifications and was refined to evolve