preface
A
while back I was very saddened to hear of the death of my friend
and fellow parandero, Naz. He died too young. He was a quiet
man who spoke loudly with his virtuosity on the guitar. In many
ways, his skill and involvement with the genres of chutney, soca, and
parang is what motivated me to write a book that explores the resonances
between these genres rather than to follow the more traditional path of
focusing on a single musical tradition.
Musically, Trinidadian musicians and their audiences go sonically
where scholars rarely tread. We remain mired in an effort to generate
knowledge that will endure. Music’s ontology is quite different from that
of a scholarly book. The sounds come and go, and they linger in memory.
My memories of Trinidadian music are forever fixed not only to sound,
but also to a variety of sensations at particular moments. Paradoxically, if
there is anything transcendent I try to capture about Trinidadian music,
it is the episodic quality of its experience.
To do so, I struggled with a variety of theoretical perspectives to frame
the ethnography—this is not the book it was when I first thought I had
finished it. As I struggled with the ethnographic representation, I felt a
disconnect between theoretical models I had inherited as a social scientist
and what I recorded and remembered from Trinidad. Eventually, I arrived
at the realization that I needed Caribbean social theories. Works such as
Paget Henry’s Caliban’s Reason (2000) and Antonio Benítez-Rojo’s The
Repeating Island (1996) solidified this view for me. As I began to think
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