Traditional versus Contemporary.

30/11/2010 21:01
    There have been many innovations in Music all over the world with technology impacting on those changes. Parang is an artform that has changed rapidly almost over the years because of the ease with which other types of music can be infused. The use of acoustics has changed alongside infusion by other genres of music into it as soca, chutney, rap and latin.

     Apart from the original instruments of parang, other instruments were added to enhance and change the timbre (colour) of the music. For example, conga drums add a latin flavour as well as the standard or electronic drumkit gives a soca feel and appears to mimic calypso and R&B music.

    Because parang came from a rich cultural and religious background, many people today who were a part of that history feel that the original artform of parang needs to be preserved. Conversely the feeling also exists that there is a place for some innovations but those should not interfere with the integrity of the parang music. The article below gives one such perspective.,130818.html

'No room for soca in authentic parang'

Sunday, November 14 2010
Diana McIntyre has lived in many different countries all over the world and as a result discovered many varied cultures which she embraced wholeheartedly. This was why she could not understand why Trinbagonians did not support parang, which is synonymous with Christmas.
“I could not conceive why people loathed parang. Once you said you liked parang, people felt you could not speak English, did not brush your teeth, you have no hair, you never went to school and I couldn’t understand it. I thought it was a fantastic art form because I spoke Spanish and Italian so for me this was just a natural progression,” McIntyre told Sunday Newsday.

With this in mind, this educator/lecturer decided that this attitude had to change and so, 32 years ago, in 1978, the National Junior Parang Festival was born and has been nurtured ever since under her management.

Her objective was to change the mind set of national disdain and disregard for parang and bring Christ back in Christmas.

McIntyre said she gave herself 15 years to change the mind set of the people, but was amazed when the festival became a hit the very first year when it was launched at Providence Girls’ High School.

Because she wanted every aspect of the education spectrum to be represented, McIntyre included students from primary and secondary schools and the University of the West Indies. Schools have been trained in parang vocal techniques, cuatro, guitar, mandolin and marac.

“Fortunately I had this job that was paying me to do what I loved (cultural officer) so on Saturdays I voluntarily worked. I worked on Sundays and the only thing was to try and hold me back,” McIntyre recalled.

“It is my personal opinion that even though people are saying that the parang culture in TT is dying, it is absolutely not. You have to look to the children. If you want to hear proper parang, not the other things that some people sing and call parang, look to the children and the Schools’ Parang Festival,” she said.

In 2008, to commemorate the festival’s 30th anniversary, McIntyre took the festival to Tobago.

“The response was mind blowing. It was extremely phenomenal and productive as Tobago had its first National Junior Parang Festival. I am glad that I have lived to see that people now love parang so much that they don’t have any Christmas function without parang,” she said.

However, McIntyre was quick to point out that Christmas calypsos should not be placed in the same category as parang. She said in authentic parang, soca and Latin dance rhythms should have no place.

“There are some people who love it so much that once they hear Christmas, it means parang. But what about if you love something so much, but can’t speak a word of Spanish. You can’t play an instrument, but even if you can you can’t play the parang strum, which is totally different from calypso. So what do you do? You pick up a cuatro and you make up anything and call that parang, but that is not so.

“Parang is firstly a religious art form so there is no place for vulgarity. I have no problem in calling them what they really are, and they are Christmas calypsos. Because you pick up a cuatro and sing anything it does not make it parang. Parang is sacred, it deals with the birth of Christ,” McIntyre said vehemently, adding that parang had an actual sequence to follow.

“You don’t just go to somebody’s house and say ‘I reach’. There is a format to parang. You start with your sereno or serenal. This is what you play to wake up the people of the house. It’s a serenading opening tune. The person in the house, if they want the parang, just has to open the door. That is their opening statement that you are welcome.

“The parandero then gives a gift or aguinaldo. Then there is a specific tune to thank the host. It is important that people make a specific distinction between parang and Christmas calypsos, it is like water and oil. Do not use the word parang if you are not singing parang. If you want to hear real parang, go to the National Junior Parang Festival. Those children are really serious and it’s complete Spanish from beginning to end,” she said. McIntyre is adamant that parang should be showcased more lest the art form be erased by the money-making Christmas calypsos.

This year’s festival will be held on November 20 and 21 at the Chaguanas Secondary School while the Tobago festival will take place on December 9 at the Esplanade in Scarborough.

McIntyre also conducts workshops in Tobago where the tutors are members of her parang band Un Amor. Roger de Freitas, Pascual Landeau, Steve Paul, Patrick Gouveia and McIntyre conduct the workshops, which are facilitated by the Multicultural Unit of the Division of Education, with secondary schools on the island.