Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
My interest in soca music, which stands for the “soul of Calypso”started while I was abroad in Trinidad and Tobago in the spring of 2012. I began researching the instrumentation, lyrical subjects, and cultural influences of soca music. I focused my research on the westernization of the genre, and how the population of Trinbagonian people has different opinions on the direction that they prefer soca music to take. Some believe that altering the sound of the music to appeal to a wider, foreign audience would be beneficial to Trinidad and Tobago and it’s recognition on a larger level. Some believe that changing the genre would ruin it, and therefore soca would die.
I traveled back to Trinidad over Christmas break in 2012 and stayed for three weeks to conduct interviews, meet with performance companies, and get as much experience in this unique culture that completely revolves around it’s rich music and diverse population. I was compelled to learn as much as I could about African drumming, steel pan, and the different instruments used that compile to make the this genre of music that is unlike any other around the world. The fusion of instruments from Africa, with percussion from East Indian regions along with modern synthesizer sounds makes this music unique to Trinidad and Tobago. It has become a passion of mine to write soca music and bring it to the wider world. I believe it is such an important genre of music because of the culture and symbolism behind it in regards to Carnival and the emancipation of the African people and the indentured laborers that populated Trinidad and Tobago and made it the country it is today. I was blessed to return and learn more about the country and genre of music that I am so passionate about. This research laid the foundation for my SYE in music to be completed in the spring of 2013.