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Rhythm-A-Day Blog for February 7, 2020:

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

Independence Day, Grenada

Independence Day in Grenada is celebrated with parades and ceremonies to commemorate Grenada's freedom from the UK in 1974. Like most Carribbean countries, Grenada faced invasion by several western countries including Spain, England and France. While the indigenous inhabitants resisted early attempts, France in 1650 completely colonized the Island. The colony produced great wealth for France as the largest producer of sugar cane, and it was considered a strategic Naval location.Many slaves were brought to serve in Granada, and the population now is about 80% their black descendants.

By virtue of Treaty of Paris in 1763, the French yielded Grenada to the UK in 1763. It remained a British colony until its liberation in 1974, although at that point the country adopted a parliamentary system that still recognized Queen Elizabeth as its Head of State. In March 1979, the Marxist/Leninist New Jewel Movement overthrew this government in a popular bloodless coup d'état and established the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG); Grenada has experienced more political turbulence since, but is considered a fairly stable democracy now.

Independence Square, Granada (Wikimedia Commons)

Independence Day is celebrated with colorful parades, festivals, games, events, and street concerts. The government holds National ceremonies honoring those who suffered and perished to win Independence.

Flag of Granada. 
Red is symbolic of courage, yellow of wisdom and warmth, and green of vegetation. The left green triangle features a small nutmeg, the most famous product of the island.

On the days leading up to Independence Day, there is a National Calypso Competition Feb 5th where Calypso artists perform their own Independence songs, and a National Cultural Fiesta celebrating everything Grenadian: live drumming and dancing, singing, tamboo bamboo (percussion music made with hollow bamboos), and more.

Let's play some of the foundational parts of Calypso! 

"Calypso is an Afro-Caribbean music which originated in Trinidad and Tobago. Enslaved Africans, not being allowed free conversation, communicated through song. This forged a sense of community among the Africans. In this sense, as with so much African diaspora music, Calypso originated as a Rhythm of Resistance, with lyrics that were frequently satirical of current events and politics.:

—Wolf Murphy

(This rhythm is covered in greater detail in our publication, The Encyclopedia of World Rhythms, Volume 1.)

Today's Video Lesson


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