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Music and dance are an integral part of life in the Caribbean.  Much of it is related to the local culture and religion.  Almost all of the music and dance is traceable to African origins.  Each country has its own distinctive brand of music.

Bomba and Plena are Puerto Rican forms of music that can be traced to African origins.  They both were developed in coastal towns like Ponce in the 1800s.  Both are percussion based. Bomba is a form of dance where male and female compete for honors.  The accompaniment is all percussion.  Plena is the street music of San Juan.  It is more melodic with Creole and European influence as well as African.  There is also dancing, but not as much as with Bomba and there are other instruments besides drums.  It is much more melodic since you have harmonicas, guitars, accordions, and horns.  In the 1960s, Salsa replaced it.

Reggae is a form of Jamaican music that developed in 1968 with the release of a single by The Maytals called DO THE REGGAY. This form of music is a combination of African rhythms plus Jamaican folk songs about poverty and politics.  Also, there is always the influence of the local religion (Rastafarianism).  The music is distinctly Jamaican, but the roots are also New Orleans Rhythm and Blues.

Haiti has a special form of music that is heard during Lent and Easter Sunday and Monday.  It is called Rara.  Rara has evolved into Compas which is a pulsing, throbbing rhythm that is influenced by Spanish merange dancers from the Dominican Republic.

Steel Bands have an interesting history.  In the 1800s, natives of Trinidad, who were enslaved, used drums to communicate with one another.  This caused problems and they were banned.  Then the people used bamboo and that was also stopped.  People got a hold of whatever they could including garbage can lids, oil barrels, car parts, etc.  In the 1930s Winston (Spree) Simon found that dented sections of a barrel produced different sounds. In fact, if you hammered the 55 gallon drums in just the right way, you could produce a full range of notes!  Ellie Manette is credited with creating the modern version that is used today.  Steel bands can have as many as 100 musicians with 300 pans.

1. The Limbo is a fun dance that originated in the Caribbean also.  Donel and his friends are having a competition to see "how low each one can go."   Each time they lower the limbo pole by 2.5 inches.  The lowest they got was 9 inches from the floor.  If they moved the pole 10 times, where did they start?

2. There are 46 members to the Trinidad Steel Band.  Each member has 3 pans.  How many pans do they have?  If 14 people leave the band, now how many pans are there?  If there are 228 pans, how many members are there?

3. Bob Marley is the father of Reggae.  He was born in 1945 and died in 1981.  How old was he when he died?  How old was he when Reggae became popular?  How many years ago did Reggae become popular?

4. There is a Plena band that is playing in San Juan for a festival.  See how many members are in the band.
        The number is prime.
        The digits add up to an even number that is divisible by 5.
        The number is greater than a dozen and less than the square of 5.

5. Gustav is from Jamaica and he absolutely loves music.  He is going shopping for tapes.  He does not make a lot of money, so he must be careful.  The local store can get him some old Bob Marley tapes for some unstated amount of money.  If he has 5 particular tapes in mind, and 35 Jamaican dollars to spend, write an algebraic equation to show this.

6. Cuban music was really popular in the 1950s.  Rumba, Mambo, and Cha-cha were big.  Ricardo is a disc jockey who is in charge of the music for a '50s Party.  He has some authentic records from Cuba.  He has 9 rumba songs, 16 cha-chas, and 7 mambos.  How many different combinations could he put together for the dance?

7. Rosaline really loves Harry Belafonte and his music.  She kept a chart of all of the different songs that she found on the web. Make a graph to display her results.  Justify the reason you chose the type of graph that you did.

Caribbean Music Solutions

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