Definitions

calypso

calypso

[kuh-lip-soh]
calypso, a form of folk song developed on the island of Trinidad and also popular in other Caribbean countries. Thought to have begun with 19th-century black slaves, calypso songs developed and continue to be used in the traditional pre-Lenten carnival. Drawing mainly on both African and European sources, the music uses varieties of some 50 traditional melodies and employs a ballad form in either 2/4 or 4/4 time with syncopated phrasing. Orchestration often includes drums, guitars, maracas, brass and wind instruments, and, since they developed in the mid-1940s, steel drums (originally modified oil drums). At first sung in a Creole French, calypso has been performed in a lilting patois-tinged English by colorfully named artists since the early 20th cent. Frequently improvised, lyrics are witty, mocking, colloquial, and topical, usually addressing current events or concerns. Calypso traveled outside Trinidad in the 1920s and 30s and, in a highly commercialized form, became very popular in the United States during the late 1940s and 1950s. Probably the most famous of the many 20th-century calypso artists are, in Trinidad, the Mighty Sparrow, and, in the United States, Harry Belafonte.

See studies by K. Q. Warner (1982, repr. 1999), D. R. Hill (1993), L. Regis (1998), and J. Cowley (1999).

Calypso, in astronomy, one of the named moons, or natural satellites, of Saturn. Also known as Saturn XIV (or S14), Calypso is a small, irregularly shaped (nonspherical) body measuring about 21 mi (34 km) by 13.5 mi (22 km) by 13.5 mi (22 km); it orbits Saturn at a mean distance of 183,093 mi (294,660 km), and has an orbital period of 1.8878 earth days—the rotational period is unknown but is assumed to be the same as the orbital period. Calypso was discovered in 1980 by a group led by a team at the Univ. of Arizona led by Bradford A. Smith from ground-based photographs taken with prototype cameras designed for the Hubble Space Telescope. Calypso is co-orbital with two other moons, Telesto and Tethys; that is, they orbit Saturn at the same distance. Calypso and Telesto are two of the smallest moons in the solar system.

Musical style best known as a type of folk song. Calypso originated in Trinidad but is common throughout the Caribbean. The calypso tradition dates to the early 19th century. The subject of a calypso text, usually witty and satiric, is an event of political or social import. The lyric often incorporates Spanish, Creole, and African phrases, employing newly invented expressions such as bobol (graft) and pakoti (unfaithfulness). The exaggeration of local speech patterns is matched by an offbeat rhythm. Favourite accompanying instruments are the shak-shak (maraca), cuatro (a string instrument), and tamboo-bamboo (bamboo poles of various lengths struck on the ground). Shaped and tuned oil drums, played together in orchestras called steel bands, have also been popular.

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Related spellings

  • CALIPSO, NASA's "Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations" satellite
  • 53 Kalypso, an asteroid
  • Calipso, a robot character in Karmatrón universe. Created as a tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his research ship Calypso

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