Bajan Music
Wild, soul­ful, vibrant rhythms are a cen­tral part of Bar­ba­dian cul­ture, born from the beat­ing of slave drums and the merg­ing of African and Caribbean beats. Today , the most pop­u­lar forms of Music are:


Calypso is a genre of music has evolved through the years, orig­i­nally stem­ming from the arrival of the first African slaves to the Caribbean in the 17th cen­tury. Devel­oped as an art-​form in Trinidad, calypso also has other influ­ences, such as Euro­pean, North Amer­i­can and other Caribbean cul­tures, and is seen as the art of story-​telling.

Alison hinds IMG 3166 copy

It was only until the 1970s that calypso became more orga­nized in Bar­ba­dos, and tied in with the revival of the Crop Over sea­son. Inter­est­ingly, prior to the 1930s, calypso in Bar­ba­dos was called banja. Despite its evo­lu­tion through the years, calypso is first and fore­most a form of polit­i­cal satire and social com­men­tary. The other form of calypso is strictly for par­ty­ing and the Bajan dance form ‘wukking up’- sim­ply per­formed by gyrat­ing ones waist to the rhythm of the music. This music form is more fes­tive than its social com­men­tary coun­ter­part, and this is what you will usu­ally hear when jump­ing for the biggest street party of the Crop Over sea­son– Kadooment.


Soca music evolved in Trinidad and Tobago, and merges together Indian musi­cal instru­ments and tra­di­tional calypso music. It is more upbeat than calypso, and Bar­ba­dos has its share of artists that have mas­tered this art form. Musi­cians such as Lil’ Rick, Edwin Year­wood and Alli­son Hinds have all made an indeli­ble mark in the his­tory of this artform.


Ragga-​Soca is the merger of two gen­res which are highly pop­u­lar in Bar­ba­dos, reg­gae and soca. This fusion car­ries a rhythm which is faster than reg­gae but slower than usual up-​tempo soca. This art form is said to be an inven­tion of long-​standing Bar­ba­dian calypso leg­end, Red Plas­tic Bag.


Dur­ing the time of the rise of the sugar cane indus­try, Brazil­lian exiles were brought to Bar­ba­dos. Alson with them came their cul­ture. The Samba, Latin music with African influ­ences, was a part of that cul­ture which was intro­duced to the island. As the rythms of the island incor­po­rated with the Samba, a new beat, indige­nous to Bar­ba­dos, devel­oped. This beat was then called Soca-​Samba.

Ring Bang

While melody is an out­stand­ing fac­tor in most gen­res, ring­bang dif­fers. Here we have a blend of Caribbean music which focuses on the rhythm. Since its cre­ation, some 20 years ago, ring­bang has become quite pop­u­lar in Bar­ba­dos and the wider the Caribbean. It is said to have evolved from ‘Tuk’, a musi­cal art­form that com­bines British mil­i­tary and African vil­lage rhythms and instruments.

The National Cul­tural Foun­da­tion, from its incep­tion in 1984, cer­tainly is to be cred­ited for the devel­op­ment and preva­lence of these musi­cal art forms, and Crop Over, in Bar­ba­dos, through the devel­op­ment of cul­ture through train­ing, research and the cre­ation of oppor­tu­ni­ties in cul­tural industries.


Cre­ates by one of the great Bar­ba­dian musi­cians of the 1960’s, Jackie Opel, Spouge is mainly a fusion of Ska, out of Jamaica, and Calypso, out of Trinidad. Spouge instru­men­ta­tion orig­i­nally con­sisted of cow­bell and gui­tar, along with var­i­ous other per­cus­sion instru­ments, rep­re­sent­ing the African ori­gin, later expand­ing to include the saxa­phone, trom­bone and trumphets.

There were two pop­u­lar kinds of spouge in the 1960s - raw spouge (Dray­tons Two style) and dragon spouge (Cas­sius Clay style) and by the 1970s, the genre had grown immensely with pop­u­lar groups such as Blue Rhythm Cmbo, the Drayton’s Two and The Trou­ba­dours. In recent years there has been an attempt to revive the dying genre, with colaboura­tions and remakes of old hits. Desmond Weekes, of the Dray­tons Two believes that this should be encour­aged because it is a national form and could inspire the nation’s pride in its cul­tural heritage.

Much More on Music, Artists & the Indus­try Com­ing Soon!

Ali­son Hinds — Queen of Soca Crop Over Festival
Ander­son “Blood” Armstrong Main Crop Over Events
Bar­ba­dos Nightlife Enter­tain­ment
Cur­rent Edi­tion of Caribbean Dreams Magazine

Arti­cle © Caribbean Dreams Magazine

Photo © Caribbean Dreams Magazine

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