List of Caribbean music genres

Caribbean music genres are diverse. They are each syntheses of African, European, Indian and Indigenous influences, largely created by descendants of African slaves (see Afro-Caribbean music), along with contributions from other communities (such as Indo-Caribbean music). Some of the styles to gain wide popularity outside the Caribbean include, bachata, merenque, palo, mombo, denbo, baithak gana, bouyon, cadence-lypso, calypso, chutney, chutney-soca, compas, dancehall, jing ping, parang, pichakaree, punta, ragga, reggae, reggaeton, salsa, soca, and zouk. Caribbean is also related to Central American and South American music.

Harry Belafonte, a Jamaican-American pop-calypso singer

The history of Caribbean music originates from the history of the Caribbean itself. That history is one of the native land invaded by outsiders; violence, slavery, and even genocide factor in.

Following Christopher Columbus' 1492 landing, Spain claimed the entire region as its own. That didn't sit well with either the natives or Spain's European neighbors; within a few years, bloody battles raged across the islands of the Caribbean, fought by Spain, France, England, Denmark, and the Netherlands. All these battles (and diseases brought from Europe) decimated the native tribes, with entire cultures wiped out.

Thus the Caribbean was colonized as part of the various European empires. the native culture was further eroded when the Europeans imported African slaves to work the sugar and coffee plantations on their island colonies. in many cases, the native cultures -and the native musics- were replaced with those brought over from Africa.

At this point, whatever common Caribbean culture existed was splintered. Each of the European powers carved out their own cultures on their respective islands. Even with the ending of colonial period, this is the Caribbean we have today - a series of subtly different cultures from island to island.

This island-specific culture also informs the music of the Caribbean. Every island has its distinct musical styles, all inspired, to one degree or another, by the music brought over from the African slaves. As such, most Caribbean music, however unique to its own island culture, includes elements of African music - heavy use of percussion instruments, complex rhythmic patterns, and call-and-response vocals. That said, it's important to recognize the musical styles unique to each island. In many cases, the difference between one style and another comes down to the rhythms utilized in each music; there is almost a different rhythm for every island.

The complex deep origins of Caribbean music are understood with a knowledge of Western Hemisphere colonial immigration patterns, human trafficking patterns, the resulting melting pot of people each of its nations and territories, and thus resulting influx of original musical influences. Colonial Caribbean ancestors were predominantly from West Africa, West Europe, and India. In the 20th and 21st centuries immigrants have also come from Taiwan, China, Indonesia/Java, and the Middle East. In addition, neighboring Latin American and North American (particularly hip hop and pop music) countries have naturally influenced Caribbean culture and vice versa. One must understand these influences to have a deep understanding of the resulting Caribbean music that reflects the culture of the people. Although there are musical commonalities among Caribbean nations and territories, the variation in immigration patterns and colonial hegemony tend to parallel the variations in musical influence. Language barriers (Spanish, Portuguese, English, Hindustani, Tamil, Telugu, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Yiddish, Yoruba, African languages, Indian languages, Amerindian languages, French, Indonesian, Javanese, and Dutch) are one of the strongest influences.

The divisions between Caribbean music genres are not always well-defined, because many of these genres share common relations and have influenced each other in many ways and directions.[1] For example, the Jamaican mento style has a long history of conflation with Trinidadian calypso.[2] Elements of calypso have come to be used in mento, and vice versa, while their origins lie in the Afro-Caribbean culture, each uniquely characterized by influences from the Shango and Shouters religions of Trinidad and the Kumina spiritual tradition of Jamaica.[3] Music from the Spanish-speaking areas of the Caribbean are classified as tropical music in the Latin music industry.