I wrote many years ago in one of my spoken word pieces that my accent is like a potpourri of exercises in colonization left unfinished forever branded on the cusp of my tongue. An offspring of this little island called Trinidad where our culture is indeed a potpourri of cultures, food, norms, traditions, beliefs, people, music, not unfinished but rather uniquely integrated and mixed like a perfect concoction of humanity.
Now during this time of the year, when the Christmas season is upon us a type of music that is known to us in Trinidad as Parang unites the country like nothing else. “Derived from the Spanish word “parranda” meaning “a spree or fête”, parang bands in Trinidad embody this translation with lively and colourful performances that exude the festivity of the season. In recent times, there has been an emergence of soca parang which is an energetic mix of traditional parang and the tempo of Trini soca that even the harshest music critic will enjoy.” ~ Destination TNT.com
As a boy I remember learning to play one of the instruments used in Parang, the Cuatro, a little four stringed guitar type instrument with a uniquely Spanish sound. The shak shak or Maracas as they are commonly called were also another favorite. Cantemos pastores was the opening lyric to one of the songs we had to learn as children. We didn’t speak Spanish, but Spanish is deeply woven into our culture.
Typical instruments used in Parang
Cuatro – Maracas – guitar – vocals – Violin – Claves – caja – mandolin – tambourine – steelpan
“Two theories surround the origins of Trinidad parang. The first is that the custom was brought to the island by the Spanish colonists who ruled Trinidad from 1498-1797. It continued to flourish after the British took over the island, because of constant interaction between the people of Trinidad and those of Venezuela. The second theory suggests that the custom was brought over from Venezuela in the 19th century by the cocoapanyols who came from Oriente, East Venezuela to work on the cocoa plantations in Trinidad. Whatever its origins, parang is now an integral part of the cultural landscape of Trinidad and Tobago.” ~ Destination TNT.com
Origins aside, Parang is uniquely and unequivocally Trini as we would say. Trini meaning Trinidadian.
In the past, it was traditional for parang serenaders to pay nocturnal visits to the homes of family and friends, where part of the fun was waking the inhabitants of the household from their beds. Today, parang is especially vibrant in Trinidad and Tobago communities such as Paramin, Lopinot, and Arima.
A new form of parang, soca parang, has emerged. Soca parang is a combination of soca and parang.” ~ WikiPedia
This fusion is fitting and if you know anything about Trinidad, falls right in line with the ways all varieties of cultures evident there find a way to meld and become something uniquely Trini.
I have a penchant for the older original parang songs, granted I barely know the words. Like this video below of Parang in Lopinot.
This video is a little documentary about Parang.
This is from the venerable Scrunter. A soca parang piece called “Ah want a piece of pork”… for de Christmas
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!!
Parang header image by https://triniinxisle.com/2018/12/16/trinidad-parang/