Gender misbehaving : women in Trinidadian popular music
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This study examines how gender influences the performance practice of calypso, soca, steel band music, and other related musical genres in contemporary Trinidad. I address the history of these musical genres in this nation, and how they developed into their present form. My study of women in contemporary Trinidadian music examines how popular musicians bring together personal opinion, public persona, and musical structure, to create commentaries upon the contemporary moment (instrumental political agency) as well as emotional bonds with their intended audiences and show that an alternate way of organizing gender representations and inter-gender relations is possible (constitutive political agency). I use a performance based approach to studying various aspects of musical practice within Trinidad, and how this enhances women's agency within the public sphere of popular music, creating new kinds of cultural capital for previously underrepresented members of the population. Many different aspects of Trinidad’s expressive culture are discussed and related to the musical genres discussed therein. Trinidad Carnival, its history and aesthetics, receives particular attention. Performance practice within the musical genres of calypso and soca and the music of the steel orchestra are discussed in detail. Within Trinidad, expressive culture, including popular music, is a strong forum for communicating possible inter-personal and inter-gender relations. Thus, music in the Trinidadian context takes an important place alongside larger political projects and concerns.