Learn More About Caribbean Folk Music
Grade 6, Log On
There is much more to the Caribbean than beautiful beaches, snorkeling, and lying in the sun. The hundreds of music styles sprinkled throughout the islands are a real treat worth exploring.
The Caribbean is an area found around and within the Caribbean Sea between Central and South American. Some countries found in the Caribbean are Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Martinique, Antigua, Barbados, the Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Suriname. In terms of culture, the different islands and countries of the region share some things in common, but because of different histories they each have their own unique flavor.
The first people to inhabit the Caribbean were Native Americans called the Carib and the Arawak. The Spanish arrived after 1492 when Columbus first sailed through the Caribbean. Other Europeans eventually came to live in these areas from Spain, France, England, and Holland.
Europeans also brought millions of enslaved Africans to the islands to work plantations that grew sugar cane, coffee, and other products for export. Syncopated rhythms, call-and-response musical forms, ostinatos, drums and other African-inspired instruments, as well as the strong connection between music and dance can be found in many Caribbean styles. Salsa from Puerto Rico, merengue from the Dominican Republic, calypso from Trinidad, zouk in Martinique, cumbia from Columbia, and reggae from Jamaica are only a few examples with these characteristics.
Click here to listen to the güiro, an instrument often used in Caribbean folk music.