Music is a cornerstone of life in many parts of the Caribbean. One of the most popular types of music is calypso.


For many, when you think of calypso you think of Trinidad. However, it is widely believed that calypso was conceived by a Frenchman in 1295.  In those days calypso was a form of music used to entertain kings and members of royalty throughout Europe. 

Throughout its history calypso has been influenced by many countries. Some of its main influences came from Africa (kaiso), England, France (carrousseaux), Spain (caliso) and Venezuela (pasillo).

The art of calypso is more related to the West African tradition of making comments through song. Similarly, the steelband developed from the African tradition of beating a drum, and then it grew in partnership with the calypso. In both cases the Trinidad carnival was also a formative influence. 

Before the 1920s calypso songs were sung in French. At that time the newspapers were under colonial rule, therefore the content was often in favour of the government. Hence, the calypso became the news that was not printed, and so became the mouthpiece for the common man.

Aldwyn Roberts and Slinger Francisco are examples of legendary calypso singers whose music has undoubtedly influenced the development of the steelpan instrument.