The word 'parang' is derived from the Spanish word ' parranda', meaning a spree or a fete and shows the action of merry-making.

Historically, parang is a form of church music that is a mixture of spiritual aspirations and joyfulness. 

Its origin is very complex and highly contested: 

  • Some people believed that parang came from the Spanish colonists who ruled Trinidad and Tobago from 1498 to 1797.
  • Others were of the opinion that it came from Venezuela during the 19th Century when labourers migrated to Trinidad to work on the cocoa plantations. This custom continued when the British took over the island and acknowledged the interaction with Venezuela. 

Parang music is traditionally performed around Christmas time, but the start of the parang season is from late September to early October and continues up to January 6 which is the feast of Epiphany.  

The band members were often referred to as 'Parrendoes'. They either competed in national competitions for prizes, or go serenading from house to house in their locality in exchange for food and beverages.

It was the tradition at Christmas time for the parrendoes to serenade at nights to friends and families in their community. They will announce their arrival with a song which would wake the occupants in the house, so that they can gain entry. These songs often relate to the story of the birth of Christ and a message of peace on earth and goodwill to all men. 

The bands usually consist of singers and musicians. The singers would sing the songs in Spanish while the musicians play the following instruments:

  • guitar, cuatro
  • bandol (bandola)
  • cello (violincellp)
  • tambourine
  • clapper, toc-toc (claves)
  • wood block
  • scratcher (guiro)
  • maracas (chac-chac or shak-shak)
  • box bass
Soca-parang is a form of parang that is a mixture of soca, calypso and traditional parang music. The lyrics in this type of parang are sung in English and are generally non-religious.

Today, the following instruments can be used either in place of or along with some the original instruments:
  • flute
  • scratcher (guiro) 
  • drum machine
  • electric bass
  • latin percussion (for example, congas or timbales)
  • steelpan

In 1971, the National Parang Association was formed.

In 1990, Pan Parang, the first steelpan parang competition was held.

In 1995, the Desporadoes Steel Orchestra was placed third at Panorama with a Robert Greenidge composition and arrangement titled 'Pan Parang'.

In 2012, the National Parang Association of Trinidad and Tobago (NPATT) incorporated the steelpan as the main instrument in its instrumental competitions.