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Carnival, Canboulay and Calypso

Carnival, Canboulay and Calypso
Traditions in the Making


  • Date Published: February 1999
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521653893

£ 32.99

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About the Authors
  • Starting from the days of slavery and following through to the first decades of the twentieth century, this book traces the evolution of Carnival and secular black music in Trinidad and the links that existed with other territories and beyond. Calypso emerged as the pre-eminent Carnival song from the end of the nineteenth century and its association with the festival is investigated, as are the first commercial recordings by Trinidad performers. These featured stringband instrumentals, 'calipsos' and stickfighting 'kalendas' (a carnival style popular from the last quarter of the nineteenth century). The emphasis of the book is on history, and great use is made of contemporary newspaper reports. colonial documents, travelogues, oral history and folklore, providing an authoritative treatment of a fascinating story in popular cultural history.

    • Based on fascinating documentary material from the days of slavery to the early twentieth century
    • Richly illustrated
    • Full discussion of early recordings of Calypso
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The characteristics of Cowley's scholarship, a meticulously academic rigour and attention to detail are in evidence here … A necessarily short review like this cannot do anything like justice to the riches of this book.' Blues and Rhythm

    'The long and complex history of carnival, from which calypso has so successfully grown, is well told by John Cowley in his excellent new work Carnival, Canboulay and Calypso … essential and exhaustive'. Folk Roots

    'Future researchers of Trinidad's Carnival will no longer begin with the primary sources. Henceforth, one must first turn to Cowley's magnificent study and then to the original documents if necessary.' Folk Music Journal

    'This is a very important book about Caribbean culture. Though deliberately restricted in its analytical as well as temporal scope (the chronological investigation stops abruptly with 1920), it is an extremely valuable research report and one that takes the side of the masquerading people. It makes a major contribution to recording the history of the Carnival.' Association for the Study of African, Caribbean and Asian Culture and History in Britain Newsletter

    ' … a meticulously researched and immensely rich piece of cultural history. Cowley has produced the definite study of Trinidad's Carnival in all its many aspects for the period up to 1920.' Slavery and Abolition

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 1999
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521653893
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 21 b/w illus. 2 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Background to West Indian music
    2. 'Pain nous ka mangé': music, carnival and events 1783–1869
    3. 'Not a cent to buy rice': poverty, revelry and riots, 1870–1896
    4. 'Iron Duke in the land': banners, bands and music 1897–1920
    5. Creole musical traditions: Africa, the Caribbean and beyond

  • Author

    John Cowley

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