Music of the Caribbean

A diverse group of musical genres originate from the Caribbean. Popular types of Caribbean music include reggae, salsa and calypso.

Music of the Caribbean


The cabasa, an instrument used in Caribbean music

The Caribbean islands lie in a chain from the Bahamas in the north to Trinidad and Tobago in the south. Central in the chain are the largest islands of Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Most of the Caribbean population are descendants of West African slaves and settlers from Europe, India and China. The music of the Caribbean differs from island to island, but each kind has its origins in a mixture of African and European influences.

African musical influences include:

  • syncopations (offbeat accents) and cross-rhythms
  • use of percussion
  • call and response
  • singing styles

European musical influences include:

  • tonal (based in a key) harmonies and melodies
  • instruments eg guitar

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