Jay Sand teaching an All Around This World class

All Around This World is a unique, interactive global music and world cultures program for children 0-9 years old that encourages children and their families to explore the world by enjoying global music, rhythms and movement. Jay Sand, guitarist and children’s music teacher, world traveler and dad of three girls developed All Around This World with his girls as a way to introduce them to the countries he’s already visited and the many more he plans to visit with them. Through CDs, concerts and workshops, dynamic online classes, engaging homeschool and classroom lessons, “musical maps” and participatory parent-child music-making Jay hopes to make the world a bit smaller one song at a time.

All Around This World is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of All Around This World must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Donate here.

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ALL AROUND THIS WORLD NEWS

What is Calypso? The Mighty Duke Explains

Trinidadian “calypso” most likely derived from a West African musical/narrative style called kaiso and developed as a way for slaves to communicate. Calypso musicians sang in French creole and told stories with their songs–often with off-color lyrics full of double entendres. The style originated in the 1830s and was well-known throughout the Caribbean but only became internationally popular in the 1950s when Jamaican-born Harry Belafonte brought it to America. Enthusiasts accused Belafonte of watering down the genre and pointed to lyrically bolder (and much more awesomely named) artists such as Lord Kitchener, Mighty Sparrow and Roaring Lion as the true “calypsonians.” In this video Mighty Duke schools us by asking and answering the question, “What is calypso?”

Trinidad, Tobago and You

All Around This World -- The Caribbean featuring Trinidad and Tobago

This week our online class takes us deep into the islands, to the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Like most of our other Caribbean island friends, Trinidad, which sits near its sister island Tobago in the southern Caribbean just northeast of Venezuela, was already inhabited before Columbus dropped by and told people there that they all of a sudden were living in Spanish territory. Trinidad’s first settlers, about, 5000 years ago, were Othroid people from the north coast of South America, then the Saladoid people, then the Barrancoid people. They were followed by Arawak and Carib people, who met their end shortly after Columbus and the Spanish encomienda system came to town. Trinidad remained Spanish colony until 1802 and a British colony until it became independent in 1962.

This week we’ll explore Trinidad’s multiethnic mix, especially enjoying music and culture created by descendants of enslaved Trinidadian Africans and South Asian indentured laborers who today intertwine to give Trinidad colorful, complex, Caribbean, life.

Why does our Landship plait a maypole?

We end our week in Barbados with one more look at Landship. A popular Landship dance is the “plaiting” of a Maypole. The choreography of Landship often tells the story of the “Middle Passage,” the brutal transport of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic. In a favorite dance, eight dancers “plait a Maypole,” turning multi-colored ribbons around a maypole until they’re very short, then them unwinding again. This tradition connects dancers with West African stories of the clever Anansi, an eight-legged spider, who was said to have helped the Akan people learn to weave and build houses.

I’m so happy you were able to come with me to Barbados this week. Tomorrow we travel to Trinidad and Tobago.

A Tuk Band tearin’ it up

Yesterday we met “landship,” a Barbadian tradition that refers to both a dance performance group and an essential social-cultural community organization for the African-Barbadian community. Landships organize themselves into individual “ships,” named after British vessels, which unite into “fleets” under the leadership of “Lord High Admirals” and other “officers.” Landship performers will tell you they are not doing a dance; instead they are executing “manoeuvers” to the command of the Captain in the course of a parade. The primary musical “engine” of a landship is the Tuk Band, a drum/fiddle/triangle ensemble based upon British regimental military bands. In this video we hear a Tuk Band in action.

All Aboard the Landship!

Landship, a tradition unique to Barbados, developed during the several centuries of British rule as a way for African Barbadians to emulate (and also satirize) the strict hierarchies of the British navy while using playful dance moves to reference a harsh history of slavery and colonialism.  A landship is a Barbadian community dance society (“a ship on land”) whose members dress up like British naval officers and support staff and dance in processions like British naval officers do–sort of. More landship tomorrow.

Ring Ting Ting

The Merrymen is a band from Barbados that became popular in the 1960s due to its happy, uptempo calpyso — a style that became known as “blue beat — its flamboyant troubadour costumes and the very merry whistling of lead singer Emile Straker.  while you’re watching a slideshow featuring the best album covers ever.

I am a Bajan


Many people in Barbados speak an inventive hybrid form of English known as Bajan. Speakers of the dialect revel in the playful nature of Bajan phrasing and pronunciation. For example, Bajan speakers pronounce “th” as “d” (such as “dem” instead of “them), leave “to be” out of sentences (“I here” instead of “I am here”) and use the same word three times for emphasis. So, instead of “This music class is great!” a Bajan speaker may say, “Dis music class good good GOOD.”

Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga Ragga

One of All Around This World’s favorite soca songs is “Ragga Ragga,” a mid-’90s Caribbean mega-hit by Barbadian musician Stedson Wilshire, otherwise known as “Red Plastic Bag,” “RPB” or even just “Bag.” In the song RPB declares his general disdain for ragga music, in which deejays speak, sometimes incomprehensibly, over a pounding beat.

Don’t you dare call Barbados “Lesser”

All Around This World -- The Caribbean featuring Barbados

This week in class we voyage to Barbados, a glorious island nation in the “Lesser Antilles.” Barbados had a long history even before the British arrived in 1625 to find it uninhabited. Amerindians had lived there in about 1600 BC, then the Arawak came-and then the Caribs, who ruled the roost for several hundred years until they disappeared, likely as a result of their encounters with Spanish and Portuguese visitors (and/or their germs).  The island soon became a land full of wealthy sugar plantation owners and their African forced laborers. For the next three hundred years only the very wealthiest citizens of Barbados were allowed to vote, ensuring domination by those very wealthy citizens. Only in the 1950s did universal suffrage come to Barbados. In 1966 Barbados became independent. 

We’re going to enjoy our swing-out to Barbados. There aren’t too many better places to be.

 

You don’t want Kassav’ to be your doctor

Martinique’s most internationally famous band, Kassav’ formed in the late ’70s and early ’80s when musicians from Guadeloupe and Martinique got together in Paris to fuse Antillean kadans and biguine with electric guitars and funky horns. The band has since become the world’s premier zouk ensemble and has inspired subsequent generations of Caribbean zouk performers. In this video they triumphantly declare, “Zouk-la-sé-sèl-Médikaman Nou Mi” — “Zouk is our only medicine.”

I’m so glad you were able to spend the last week with me exploring the music and culture of Martinqiue. Tomorrow, Barbados!