Parang, folk music of Trinidad & Tobago

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Created by Destin A. Dopwell (2015)

Trinidad and Tobago is blessed with a variety of cultural riches, and Parang, is one of them. Originally brought to Trinidad and Tobago by Venezuelan immigrants, parang is rooted deeply into our nation’s culture. ParangThis genre is traditionally performed around Christmas time; various parang bands either compete in national competitions for prizes or go from house to house serenading the occupants while in return getting a healthy serving of food and alcoholic beverages for the entertainment. Within parang itself lays various sub categories ranging in purpose from telling stories about the birth of baby Jesus, to more secular things like singing about parties and drunkenness. However, one thing remains the backbone of all parang, and that is the irresistible rhythmic pulses that capture even the most uptight of persons. This strong rhythmic characteristic is as a result of the instrumentation used in this musical style. The quarto, a four stringed guitar like instrument, is the symbol of parang. It is smaller than a guitar and produces a higher pitched range of accompanying chords. Other instruments used in parang are the maracas, the box bass, the toc-toc; all providing a rhythmic bass. Parang music aslo has room for lead instruments such as the violin, the mandolin and the flute. Each instrument has a specific role in a parang band and their roles change drastically when a lead vocalist is involved, however versed parang performers or parranderos as they are locally refered to, can maneuver regardless of the situation. Parang has changed over the years and has mixed with other Trinidadian cultures such as Soca music and thus Soca parang was born. Soca parang is rarely ever about anything spiritual, instead it’s usually comical and withy; perfect for Christmas parties and gatherings. Also, soca parang is all sung in English. Nevertheless, the instrumentation remains mostly unchanged and it is equally enjoyed by the masses. Now that you have a little insight into this beautiful music, what are you waiting for? Go listen to some more and enjoy!


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