I'd like to compose my own calypso music, but I've not been exposed to enough calypso in my lifetime to be able to do so intuitively.

Of course, calypso is instantly recognisable as such, but why?

What "trademarks" are there within calypso music that make it sound, well, like calypso music? What chord structures, rhythms, and melodic patterns will help make my own piece sound more like calypso?

1 Answer 1


The following is lifted directly from http://www.misswardmusic.com/caribbean.html

Calypso: Originally the national dance of Trinidad and Tobago, calypso is particularly associated with carnival. It has:

  • 4/4 time with syncopation
  • acoustic and bass guitar or band with trumpets, saxophones, electric guitars, drum kit and Latin percussion
  • often uses three-beat rhythms with two long beats followed by a short beat
  • often uses call and response
  • simple harmony
  • verse and chorus songs
  • topical, witty lyrics - often satirical

Here is a sample Calypso rhythm: enter image description here

I have no special knowledge about calypso, but I think the list above is nice on concise and matches nicely with my perception as a casual listener.

One other suggestion: try finding folk song books in the library and browse for those in a calypso style. You might be able to find a folk song book devoted to calypso. The 1950's and 1960's in America showed a lot of interest in the general public, Harry Belafonte's first record was released in the early 50's. A lot of these folk song were published shortly after in the 1960's, maybe the 1970's too. I think these could be valuable resources for you.


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