Soca International: Trinidadian Digital Dance Music in Global Circulation

  1. 1. Gregory Scruggs

    Columbia University

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Trinidad is synonymous with soca music in much the same way that one associates Jamaica with dancehall and Puerto Rico with reggaetón. Yet unlike its counterparts from the Greater Antilles, soca has a far lower profile outside the Caribbean, having yielded neither a mainstream crossover artist like Jamaica’s Sean Paul nor a universal hit like reggaetón’s “Gasolina” (Arrow’s 1983 “Hot Hot Hot,” since banished to the world of Caribbean kitsch, notwithstanding). In turn, both genres feature prominently in global remix culture with sonic signifiers such as dancehall’s air horns and instantly recognizable vocal samples or the trademark boom-ch-boom-chick snare of reggaetón. However, in recent years, a small cadre of DJs/producers with and without ties to Trinidad have begun pairing soca artistes with global digital dance music styles such as techno, dubstep, and UK bass with a focus on soca’s vocal style and tempo rather than its rhythmic structure. Simultaneously, recent soca produced in Trinidad with a focus on the lucrative Carnival season has largely abandoned the Midi-based sound that has characterized most soca since the 1980s in favor of instrumentals that sound increasingly like global electronic pop music. This paper and multimedia presentation will subsequently situate the multiple registers of soca’s emerging circulation outside the Caribbean soundscape in the context of global Carnival culture while drawing parallels with other digital dance musics of the Caribbean, such as zouk, kompa, dembow, and bubblin.

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Conference Info

In review

Caribbean Digital - 2014

Hosted at Barnard College, Columbia University

New York, New York, United States

Dec. 4, 2014 - Dec. 5, 2014

31 works by 38 authors indexed

Series: Caribbean Digital (1)

Organizers: Caribbean Digital

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None