Fox Carnival Band
    Music at Notting Hill Carnival
Carnival moves to its own beat

Music at Carnival

A central component of Carnival celebrations is Carnival's music. Music at Carnival means everything from the brilliant beat of the "pans" in formal bands to the blowing of whistles by revellers in the street. But there are three traditional types of Carnival sound:

• Calypso (CLICK HERE for more information)
Calypso is a form of music originally from Trinidad in the West Indies. Often, it is improvised and, like an oral newspaper, provides a way to pass around news, jokes and ideas. Calypso lyrics rhyme in their own unique way and often carry social or political themes. Some critics argue that calypso was the beginnings of rap music. Also, many calypso songs concern themselves with Carnival itself.

On every Friday leading up to Notting Hill Carnival, you can see Calypsonians from both the UK and the West Indies compete for the crown of Calypso Monarch at a special tent (CLICK HERE for information).

• Soca (CLICK HERE for more information)
Soca is a mix of calypso with soul - funky music with a great dancing rhythm. One soca song, "Who Let the Dogs Out", won a Grammy Award in 2002. Soca involves no particular dance steps; soca dancing is just the way people move on the street at Carnival. The words you hear as you play mas command you to party - to dance together, to celebrate and wave your flags.

Static sound systems (CLICK HERE for more information)
Inheritors of the systems that play reggae in Jamaica, the sound system is one of London's great contributions to Carnival. Sound system DJs emphasise the bass line of records they spin through powerful "bass bin" speakers.

Helping Out
Carnival Year by Year