All this week, it’s Carnaval season throughout Central and South America. In Trinidad, Carnaval is the major social and cultural event of the year. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
Gage Averill is an associate professor in the department of Music at New York University.
“Culturally, Carnaval is considered the most significant, expressive moment in Trinidadian life.”
Every year, new topical calypsos are written for a number of competitions around Carnaval time, and the songs receive a high profile throughout Trinidad.
“And they take these songs for steel band and calypso very, very seriously. It’s argued about for months afterwards — the judging system and who won.”
The music, parades and spectacle of Carnaval have made it an important event in Trinidad’s tourist calendar. But tourism has a history of changing the nature of grassroots events.
“There’s always been a struggle around Carnaval. Carnaval at some level is a very messy, untidy public display — usually a display by lower-class members of the society, people who are not that visible the rest of the year. What the government and the business interests and the tourism board would like to see is something that’s very pretty that can be passively consumed. But the nature of Carnaval is that if you’re standing on the side, and you like what a band is doing, you jump in. You jump up and you jump in with the band. And these two things are often at odds, and you’ll find a kind of struggle over the life of Carnaval and the nature of it.”
More on Carnaval in Trinidad in our next program. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.
THE MUSIC HEARD IN THE BACKGROUND OF THIS PROGRAM IS THE GROUP “DESPERADOS STEEL ORCHESTRA” PLAYING “SYMPHONY IN G” ON THE CD “THE JAMMER.” FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT DELOS INTERNATIONAL,INC. HOLLYWOOD AND VINE PLAZA,1645 NORTH VINE ST., SUITE 340, HOLLYWOOD, CA, 90028. TEL #800-364-0645