I wrote this piece back in 1999 for my second year University class in Interpersonal Communication.
Music. Music is something that all of us take for granted. The time and effort that goes into painstakingly getting a piece of music from its initial embryonic stage as just an idea, no words, no melody, no particular musical pattern of arrangement; to its eventual transformation into something unique and recognizable as a song is really nothing short of a miracle.
Even though there are all types of music that exist in the world today, here in Trinidad and Tobago there are only few forms of music that are acknowledged as something worthy of listening to, from the point of view of the general public. For that matter especially any local form of ‘Rock” music is seriously discredited. Most people associate ‘rock or alternative’ as it is called these days with noisy guitars, screaming vocals and loud drums. While in some cases this maybe true, it is generally very stereotypical to label all bands or artists as playing the same thing. There are no two local original bands in Trinidad that sound alike. Each band has their own original ideas, some mix reggae with alternative, others mix calypso.
But now however there is a new movement in Trinidad to only get a particular type of music heard by everyone. There is a pop-rock movement, specifically designed to get these ‘pop’ bands to play only a particular type of material that appeases the masses. This particular type of music really as the name suggests, ‘popular songs on the radio,’ these songs are decided for these bands from a songlist, they are told what choices they have and how to play (e. g. no swearing etc.). Because these bands play whatever these promoters want as well as what the crowd wants, there is no room for any band that is trying to get their own original material heard, both from the point of view of pubs as well as the listening public.
The public has turned off its ears when it comes to original bands, ‘why are these bands wasting their time anyway, don’t they know, it’s the ‘pop covers’ that sells anyway’, (covers in the sense that other foreign artists’ music are copied and played or ‘covered’ by the pop bands) at least that’s what the majority say. While it is true that a person who has paid to be entertained deserves some value for money, it is unfair to say that a patron owns a band for a night based on the door fee anyway. A band should be allowed to express themselves to an extent because if a band isn’t playing at least some of their material to please themselves, then really and truly that band is not living to play music but to please people and make money, which is such a sad thing.
It is only when we open our mind to new ideas that we discover new ways of seeing and doing things. If we only want to satisfy existing needs then what is to transpire when those needs are satisfied? There will be nothing left, the crowds will stop coming, the pubs will stop taking bands and bands will cease to exist. In order to keep things fresh and new we must continue to be innovative, but bands cannot go on without support from people and people must understand that a band does not exist in a bubble. Bands need support and understanding on behalf of the audience; we need to be more open-minded and not so closed in that we can’t see the innovation around us. Trinidad music scene is waiting to happen, and may continue to forever wait unless we the public gets up and support our musical future.