Caribbean Music–The Island Vibe
Caribbean music is one of the most popular genres of music heard not only in the islands, but all over the world. Although the rhythm varies from island to island, you easily recognize their African heritage through the lively, explosive and expressive beats. Most people are familiar with Reggae, but there are many different styles of Caribbean music that make your feet move, your mood lift, and always remind you of the tropics.
Here are some of the styles of Caribbean music that will set the mood for your visit to the Virgin Islands.
Fungi music is a local music from of the British Virgin Islands. It’s an expression of the BVIs culture that showcases the island’s African and European influences in a unique and distinct sound. The name “fungi” comes from a cornmeal based food made with different ingredients; it’s savory fusion makes something new and delicious and that’s what fungi music is about.
A fungi band uses a wide range of instruments such as ukuleles, banjos, bongos, guitars, double bass, keyboard, calabash, triangles, washboards and even saxophone. Many of these instruments are home-made. The themes that are usually found in fungi music are love and relationships, folk lore, and current events and social commentaries. Fungi music is made for dancing, and it’s performed in a variety of events such as weddings, festivals, and full moon parties.
Calypso originated from the island of Trinidad at the start of the 20th century. The roots of this music genre began with the arrival of African slaves, who used songs as a way to communicate with each other because they were prohibited to speak with fellow captives. Calypso grew in popularity when the French brought Carnival to Trinidad, which hosts Calypso competitions. This festive music caught on in neighboring Caribbean islands, and soon, the rest of the world with hits like Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song,” Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot,” and Baha Mens’ “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
Reggae is a branch of Caribbean music that represents Caribbean and African culture and the Rastafarian religion. Originating in Jamaica in the late 1960’s, the word “reggae” is a Jamaican term for Ragga, which is loosely used as ragged, street rough and in some ways signifies the struggles of the poor. It is a form of music that is derived from other Caribbean music like Rocksteady and Ska.
The rhythmic accents on the off-beat are those that make Reggae distinct from other musical styles. Artists like Bob Marley, the Maytals, and Jimmy Cliff have made Reggae known to the world and is now the most popular music used in barefoot beach parties and festivals not only in the Caribbean, but around the world.
Salsa refers to musical style developed in the 1960’s and 1970’s from Cuba and Puerto Rico. This style is derived from Cuban Son, which is a blend of African and European music. In Spanish, the world “salsa” refers to a sauce that adds flavor to food. Analogous to the idea of sauce, salsa music puts more life and spice to the moving bodies dancing to the rhythm of the music.
When you visit the Virgin Islands, you’ll hear all of these music genres. Music is an essential part of the Caribbean life and island vibe, and when you leave our beautiful islands and return home, the sound of Carribbean music will bring you back to the islands in your mind.