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Thursday, May 31, 2012

FROM "BRAIN" TO "TWANCHE": A NEW CULTURAL REVOLUTION IN ST. LUCIA?



Two significant announcements were made during the course of this week: one by CDF director about the state of our Flower Festivals; and the other by St. Lucia’s foremost Music virtuoso Ronald (Boo) Hinkson about the quality of our music!

CDF DIRECTOR
The announcement by the Director of CDF about the moribund state of our flower festivals was disappointing but not surprising. Perhaps, if there were continuity between successive CDF “regimes”, he probably would have realized that this has been the case for some time now.

The statement by Ronald “Boo” Hinkson about the emerging daggering phenomenon which seems to be so successfully penetrating our ‘Soca’ music is like a “cultural hurricane warning” to St. Lucia; and one - which I believe - we should pay serious heed to, especially as it has got to the point where some of our so called radio DJ’s have intimately embraced those songs and they tend to indiscriminately blast them over the airwaves with little regard to the tender sensibilities of listeners.

The Dying Flower Festivals
The unfortunate paradox of the dying flower festivals is CDF itself may have been an architect of their decline by its own demonstrable lack of interest and strong advocacy for those art forms. Consider the millions poured into carnival every year compared to the very little or nothing given to the flower festivals to at least ensure their survival. In my view, that is an institutional injustice tantamount to cultural homicide.

Another contributing factor may well be the lack of airplay of our indigenous music - you hardly hear La Rose and La Marguerite music on the airwaves. In that regard, Helen seems to be losing an entire legacy which is incipiently being supplanted by a new cultural “Twanche” revolution promoting the downgrade of our thinking from “the brain” to “the twanche”.  Our popular radio DJ’s now seem to have an aversion to the songs with “brain”: double entendre, wit, creativity and poetic “romanticism”; they only seem to favour the songs that induce “twanche” gyrations.

Emergence of twanche
MAD ELLE: Disciple or inventor of "twanche"
The “twanche” revolution probably began with the evolution of what is referred to “studio rats” who style themselves as DJs. In fact, St. Lucia now has a proliferation of those un-competitive and untrained DJ’s who - by accident or design - worked themselves into our radio stations. Their seeming agenda is the unconscionable promotion of explicit material or the corruption of good music! I can’t recall hearing any of those DJs playing a single La Rose or La Marguerite song!  Only twanche or applied twanche! Perhaps, they don’t know better!

AFRICAN KANDA BONGO MAN
Applied “twanche” is very popular on one of our radio stations where the DJ’s accelerate the “speed’ of the music beyond recognition. In fact, they equate speed – not rhythm - with quality! To them, the faster the music, the better it is! And indeed, speed seems to be the essence of twanche!  Listening to the twanche “rhythms”, I get the impression that they are nothing more than “plagiarized” adaptations of some old or obsolete African Rhythm - usually two semibreves long looped at unbelievable velocity! That’s certainly not creativity.

SESSENNE DESCARTES
“Twanche” also appears to have affinity to daggering dancehall music! It has the same rhythm patterns and characterized by the same naughty, explicit and insolent lyrics. In many cases, it has the “cadence” of the traditional nursery rhyme/happy song/Christmas carol, which explains why they catch up so fast with our vulnerable kids.

When Exodus did “tjenbáş» brakes” a couple of years ago, it wasn’t obvious what his motives were; but two years down the line and with productions like “Calle” etc, the daggering became obvious. In fact, Exodus’ daggering took a political turn when he recorded “Lorne Tiwe Chilot” - Bousquet’s flagship 2011 campaign song.


Challenges for the creative arts industry
With the indigenous culture dying and daggering increasingly asserting itself, the question is: what is next for us? Is there a relationship between the moribund indigenous culture and rise of the twanche revolution? Does that explain the rise of Country and Western (C&W) Music? Is the rise of C&W music an appropriate cultural “antithesis” to “twanche”? Are we going to sit down and let the Flower Festivals die or are we going to begin to institutionalize them using our schools, our clubs etc? These are some of the challenges for the Creative Arts Industry, which up this point does not seem to be sufficiently and clearly defined!
GEORGE JONES

Country and twanche
A certain calypso referred to Country & Western as a weapon of mass destruction; however, it is largely argued by the country music community in St. Lucia that the art form is a variation of folk. Perhaps, “Boo” can do an analysis and inform us accordingly of his findings.

In our specific circumstances, don’t you see the “twanche” may well be the true cultural IED; and indeed, the gambling machines installed by the last Ministry for Social Transformation may well be the cultural WMD! What do you think?

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