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WHAT MATTERS MOST – Creative roaming


Clyde Mascoll

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TWO SATURDAYS ago, I sat in amazement watching the Junior Monarch from Trinidad and Tobago as he performed a calypso entitled Doh Waste It. Little seven-year-old Aaron Duncan may be a gift but talent still has to be nurtured and in his case it is being.Though he was the shining light, I was able to detect that our young practitioners of the art form are being pointed in the right direction. There is obvious ability but more encouragingly the attitude was in evidence and appearance was impeccable.Having listened to the semi-finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop just 24 hours earlier, it was impossible not to reflect on the state of calypso in Barbados. This could only be done using the criteria for judging of lyrics, melody and presentation.The reality is that the structure for writing a calypso, like a poem, is not going to change dramatically over time and in this regard the tools of yesteryear are still being employed.Therefore the major difference over time is going to be the creativity of the writer. It ought to be self-evident that calypso writers cannot be “a dime a dozen”. We don’t have a bag of writers!Notwithstanding the absence of a bag of writers, there are enough to serve the art form but for some reason they are becoming less and less creative and in some cases lacking sight. Something is not happening!If there is a predetermined set of ways to write a calypso, then it has to be the melody that is the defining difference once the lyrics have reached the criteria. The creativity of the writer has to be matched and married with the creativity of the arranger.There is no doubt that some calypsonians have lost sight of the way forward. It is not enough to take the same melody and change the lyrics. Indeed it is a sign of tiredness and therefore lack of focus.Melody may be defined “as a sequence of agreeable musical sounds or notes” or “sweet agreeable sounds which give pleasure to the ear”. There is obviously an element of subjectivity given that all ears are not the same, and so what is pleasure cannot be agreeable to all.It is therefore impossible to allow thousands of ears to determine the winner of a musical competition!The use of the word “agreeable” in the definition above is deliberate because the writing of musical notes has rules. Therefore creativity in a musical sense is somewhat similar to the use of abstract by the artist. Creativity is the capacity to roam artistically!Therefore keeping the calypso fresh is challenging. The way out is to appeal to a watered down version which is to ignore the marriage of lyrics and melodies and focus on the latter. This short-cut is even more difficult to keep fresh as it limits creativity. Creative swiping is for watered down Twenty20.There are times when limiting the lyrics is mastery because the lyrics provoke an emotion which the music is able to evoke. This is done in the calypso entitled “feeling hot, hot, hot”. This year’s song by RPB about Hammie La, though not universal, is in this vein, and other writers have produced such over the years.In time to come, calypso will redefine itself by going back to its roots. Its offspring would have exhausted its musical limits having divorced itself lyrically. There will be the total calypso and the partial calypso as it should be.Eventually a more creative writing will catch up with the artistic roaming of the music.There is hope once the youth remain on their current path. The real challenge will come in finding the creative minds who are not necessarily performers. Let’s hope that some of our creative minds are attracted to the art form.It is possible to train someone to think and write, but it is impossible to train someone to be creative.
•Clyde Mascoll is a professional economist and former Government minister in the last Barbados Labour Party administration.

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