Parade of the Bands

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Parade of the bands

***** Location: Trinidad and Tobago
***** Season: Dry Season - Tropics, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
(Spring in cold climates)
***** Category: Observance


Fun in the sun is the order of the day...
In Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Monday and Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday;
and ends the Carnival Season. A time of joviality boarding on lewdness.There are carnival parties called fetes and various competitions among musicians- brass and steelbands, calypso
singers, individual masqueraders - king and queen of bands, and childrens's competitions. The high point is really the ending on Monday and Tuesday when the masqueraders take to the street and are judged in bands at certain competition points along the parade routes.

© Photo and Text : Gillena Cox, T&T


Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is the event of the year.

It is said that if the islanders are not celebrating it then they are preparing for it while reminiscing about the past year's festival. The heart of the musical celebration is the calypso, which developed in spite of British rule with all its Anglicizing zeal and racism.

Recently, Soca has replaced Calypso as the a mainstream type of music. Carnival on Trinidad and Tobago originally had its roots in conservative French aristocracy where masks were donned and social visits ensued. It then grew with African influences from the slaves who added singing, dancing, and music as well as exuberance to Carnival to transform it into what we see today. Carnival is celebrated the week before Ash Wednesday in the season of Lent. Musical competitions make up a large part of Carnival and to win a competition is highly coveted.

For example, to be named Calypso Monarch is one of the island's greatest honors, and the competition is aired on television. Other prestigious titles are Soca Monarch, Road March and Panorama Champions. The instruments used are the drums, claves, and the steelpan, which is a drum that has been hammered down in different areas which create different notes.

A group of performers practice weeks in advance on these drums in order to compete and hopefully bring home the top honor. Trinidad and Tobago is very multicultural (Africian, Asian (south and east), European) and all these groups have combined their musical influences to that of Carnival. Spanish influences are also reflected by the immigrants from Venezuela. These cultures and contributions render a sound vastly different from Carnival in Spain, Venice, or even in New Orleans, where Mardi Gras is celebrated.
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Things found on the way


parade of the bands
clouds of dust
even in our throats

© gillena cox 2007

police watch the crowds
at children's carnival
the horse's teeth

© gillena cox 2008

Related words

***** calypso, soca, mas, pan

***** Carneval, Carnivalsee also Shrovetide

***** Goa Carnival, Goa Carneval India

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