The Bahamas–Music

While a lot of the traditional folk songs from The Bahamas have to do with boats, sailing, pirates, rum running and other maritime pursuits, the islands are actually best known for “Junkanoo,” the celebratory music that arose from the yearly Junkanoo festivals which take place on December 26 and on New Year’s Day. Both festivals start at 1 a.m. and go until 9 a.m. (Seriously!) There are different accounts of the origins of Junkanoo, but most agree that the tradition is over two hundred years old and began as a dancing celebration of African slaves to mark their yearly three day Christmas “holiday” or of former slaves to mark their emancipation. Early junkanoo dancers costumed themselves in whatever materials they could find, gluing paper or feathers to their clothes. Today there are extensive junkanoo groups that work on their colorful costumes all year and compete for prizes in an official parade, hit cowbells, play drums and blow conch shells as horns.

The Bahamas is also known for “rake ‘n’ scrape” music, in which musicians accompany European-style dances like the Bahamian quadrille and the polka by hitting a goombay drum, bending a saw and scraping it with a small tool such as a screwdriver.

More information:’s Interactive Anthology” of Bahamian music | About Rake ‘n’ Scrape | About Junkanoo music | About the goombay and goombay music | on the Junkanoo celebration | About Junkanoo drumming | Enjoy Junkanoo

Visit AATW’s Caribbean Musical Genres page, or explore these musical genres from The Bahamas:

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Visit AATW’s Caribbean Musical Instruments page or explore these instruments from The Bahamas:

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Explore these All Around This World songs from The Bahamas:

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