04 March, 2010

The Calypso

Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music which originated in the British and French colonial islands of the Caribbean at the start of the 20th century. Trinidad was the most important center of early calypso.

There are many stories as to how calypso came into being. The most popular theory is that calypso rhythms were developed after the coming of the first African slaves brought to work in the sugar plantations of Trinidad. Forbidden to talk to each other, and robbed of all links to family and home, the African slaves began singing songs. They used calypso, which can be traced back to West African kaiso, as a means of communication and to mock the slave masters.

It is also believed that:
  • Calypso came from the carib word 'carieto', meaning joyous song
  • Calypso originated from the French patois word 'carrousseaux' meaning a drinking party or festivity. This word later transformed into other variants, namely cariso, calyso and cayiso
  • It may have come from the Venezuelan (Spanish) word 'caliso' which referred to a topical song.
Calypsos are mainly sung during the carnival season in the Caribbean countries. These songs address the social issues in their respective countries. Initially, the majority of the songs were sung in patois. However, during the turn of the century when the people of Trinidad were struggling with the fading of the French patois and the emerging dominance of English, many terms were simply anglicized.

Here are two videos of Dominican calypsos. I hope you like them.



  1. Love this post girl and love those drums. I had a friend years ago that had a set of C drums and they made the most enchanting sounds to me.
    Thank you for bringing back a long lost memory!!!


  2. well not possible to check the video in such a slow connection. Calypso is a new kinda music to me..sounds interesting..thnx for introducing it to me :)