One of the highlights of the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival is the music! Top Bahamian and international musical acts will be playing during the carnival, May 5-7 in Nassau. All day long (and well into the night), the air will be filled with the rhythms of the Caribbean islands. Just try to stand still – these infectious beats will make you want to get up and dance!
This year, there are many different types of music included in the carnival’s entertainment lineup, from traditional Bahamian Junkanoo and Rake’n’Scrape to reggae and soca. Get ready for the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival by brushing up on your Caribbean music knowledge.
We’ve even put together a playlist featuring some of the carnival’s featured artists!
Originating here in The Bahamas, Junkanoo is synonymous with colorful and elaborate costumes, lively street parades, and, of course, music. One of the most prominent instruments in Junkanoo music is the goombay drum. Traditionally, a goombay drum is topped with a goatskin. It’s often held between the legs and played with the hands or sticks. Cowbells are also popular in Junkanoo parades.
Rake’n’Scrape is believed to have originated in the Turks and Caicos islands and made its way to The Bahamas between the 1920s and 1940s. The primary instrument for a Rake’n’Scrape band is something you probably have in your tool shed: a handsaw! It’s played by scraping an object – usually an old knife blade – along the saw’s teeth. The saw might be accompanied by drums, guitar, triangle, or accordion.
Reggae originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. It’s a blend of several different musical genres, including R&B, jazz, and traditional mento and calypso music. You can identify reggae by its heavy bass and offbeat rhythms. Reggae incorporates many different musical instruments, including drums, bass, guitars, horns, and often vocals.
Originating in Trinidad and Tobago in the mid-1900s, calypso music is influenced by African and French cultures as well as jazz. Historically, news was spread around Trinidad through calypso lyrics, which evolved into speaking out against the government through song. Eventually, calypso music became censored, and many calypso songs were considered controversial – not unlike hip-hop music of today.
Also known as the “soul of calypso”, soca is a relative newcomer to the music scene, originating in Trinidad and Tobago in the late 1970s. Heavily influenced by calypso music, it also contains elements of funk and soul. Drums, horns, and synthesizers are all frequently used in soca music, with the occasional cowbell or saxophone thrown in. Sometimes, only drums or percussion are used to back up vocals, and soca is distinguished by its quick percussion beats.
Join us in May for the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, or get in the festival spirit at home with our Caribbean music playlist!