introduction • Initial Connections
When the Admirall sawe that he coulde by no meanes al-
lure them by gyftes, he thought to prove what he could do
with musicall instruments: and therefore commaunded that
they which were in the greatest shippe, shulde play on theyr
drummes and shalmes [a reed instrument related to the
oboe]. But the younge men supposinge this to bee a token of
battayle, lefte theyr ores, and in the twynlynge of an eye
hadde put theyr arrows in theyr bowes and theyr targettes on
theyr armes: And thus directinge theyr arrows towarde owre
men, stoode in expectacion to knowe what this noyse might
pietro martire d’anghiera, The Decades of the Newe
Worlde or West India, describing the first encounter between
Columbus and the indigenous population of Trinidad
For Caribbean man, the word is first and foremost sound.
Noise is essential to speech. Din is discourse.
édouard glissant, Caribbean Discourse
t somehow seems appropriate that the first encounter between Euro-
peans and the indigenous residents of what is now called Trinidad
involved a connection between music and combat. Today, Trinidadian
music still marks and sometimes instigates conflict. It creates and reflects
controversy. Music plays a pivotal role in Trinidadians’ discussions about
themselves, their country, and their world. Often it is a song that inspires
conversation or a lyric that spurs debate.