No restrictions on Dancehall in 'Soca Monarch'

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Chairman of the Party Monarch Committee Herbert “Burga” Joseph has revealed there are no restrictions on genres other than Soca entering the competition.
“If it’s a Dancehall song or an R&B song, you can lose points in that part, but there’s no restrictions for entering,” Burga said on OBSERVER AM this morning.
He also said an artiste can change the speed and sound of their song on their album to suit competition purposes.
According to Burga, what may happen, is that it could be “weeded out” by the judges during the different stages such as the quarter-finals and semi-finals.
Burga said, “If you take the music off of a groovy song and put R&B music to it, it can almost come off as a pure R&B hit.”
Burga also explained how you can record a song in studio that would fit in one category and compete with it in another. Beats per minute (BPM) is the speed at which music is played. For the purposes of the Soca Monarch Competition, Groovy Soca is in the category of 90 to 139 beats per minute and a song qualifies as Jumpy Soca once it is 140 beats per minute and up.
“There are no rules per se. The speed of the song in the competition you are singing in and the speed of the song that’s playing in the radio doesn’t affect each other. It’s separate and apart. Let’s say the song you record is at BPM 134, and you decide to speed it up to 150, that’s a decision you made. Your CD has nothing to do with your performance,” he said.
While Burga noted that this increasingly popular practice seen in other islands is not cheating, he admitted that this is becoming popular because Soca is being influenced by other genres.
When asked what’s his take on Antiguan and Barbudan Soca being influenced, he stated, “My view is that it has, and it’s not a bad thing.”
He also said that this influence that is being noticed and heavily debated has been present for years.
“My personal view is that Soca is forever evolving and it has always been influenced, since ragga Soca days. In Trinidad, they have chutney Soca. Soca has been influenced by EDM and in recent years there is Afro-Soca influence as well and the Dominican Bouyon music influence as well; it’s always been there.”
Burga has urged the public, including DJ’s, to keep pushing local Soca music during and after the traditional Carnival season.
“I think we break off into other genres too fast after carnival. I’ll pinpoint one of many – Dancehall. If we keep it running right through and it’s a process, it’s not something that will happen overnight,” he said.
The chairman does not frown upon the evolution of Soca, but he said that calypso should continue to remain our cultural cornerstone.”
“There’s a debate where they say calypso should or should not evolve but that’s the grassroots and the foundation of [soca]. We need to keep a balance by not losing our full identity.”
Burga remarked that although the quality of local Soca does have room for improvement, this year seems to be very promising.
“Last year I heard a lot of complaints about the quality of music compared to the previous year. I think this year it jumped up and it jumped up tremendously. I don’t think anybody can complain about the quality of music.”

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