Chutney music is a fast-paced genre similar to Calypso music that is popular in Trinidad and Tobago’s party scene. It combines traditional Indian and African instruments with modern electronic instruments. Female dancers in traditional outfits are usually choreographed for chutney music competitions. Some refer to this style of music as chutney-soca because of the strong influence of soca, a West Indian style of music, in Trinidad.
Only acoustic instruments were used in the original chutney music, including a harmonium, hand drums, and a steel rod struck with a horseshoe device to keep time. It provided a metallic beat that assisted a group in keeping their rhythm. The music’s lyrics included offensive references to gods before it became popular with the general public. Chutney music was commonly performed women in private.
Because previous music popular in Trinidad did not include acoustic instrumentation, Chutney is unique. In the 1980s and 1990s, the addition of keyboards and drum machines helped chutney music become a popular party style. In Hindi and English, modern lyrics combine religious, folk, and show tunes. Some musicologists believe that the inclusion of English words and popular dance beats appeals to a younger generation in Trinidad and Tobago who have grown up listening to Western music.
When the British took Indo-Caribbean people to work as servants in sugar cane fields, they brought their musical styles with them. In temples and fields, chutney music with religious lyrics could be heard. Suriname, a small South American country, released the first recorded version of chutney music in 1958. The religious songs on Randeo Chitoes’ album quickly became popular throughout the Caribbean.
It wasn’t until 1968 that the first album a woman was released in this genre. Traditional wedding songs from the Eastern Caribbean region were included. Many East Indians were introduced to chutney music through this recording, which served as a reminder of their heritage.
The lyrics and musical styles of chutney competitions are influenced African, Indian, and Western cultures. Several categories, including chutney-soca and groovy soca, are judged at these competitions. The clarity of the lyrics and the way the voice blends with the harmonic instruments are judged in annual competitions.
Some competitions require original Guyanese songs. If the lyrics are in Hindi, they will be described in English, but they must not be offensive or defamatory. The rhythm and poetry of the lyrics, as well as the overall showmanship of the performers, are considered the judges. The use of clothing that aids in the telling of the story is encouraged. These musical competitions attract both men and women.