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HomeNewsArchivesQUELBE, SCRATCH BAND, FUNGI MUSIC – THE SUBTLE DIFFERENCE

QUELBE, SCRATCH BAND, FUNGI MUSIC – THE SUBTLE DIFFERENCE

Quelbe, Scratch band and Fungi music are all names for the indigenous music of the Virgin Islands. If you come from St. Croix, where the music is most prolific, you call it Quelbe. The same music is called Scratch band music on St. Thomas and Fungi music on Tortola.
The term Scratch band means you play any instrument you can "scratch up." Originally this meant found or homemade instruments. Scratch bands perform for Quadrille dances, but in their true form are just a bunch of guys entertaining each other – alcohol usually involved.
Although similar music is played throughout the Caribbean, Scratch bands have developed a unique sound primarily due to their rhythm section. The instruments involved are the ukulele banjo, a short-necked, four-string banjo; the conga drum played with a mallet or stick; the squash, a gourd with grooves cut into it and played with a comb or Afro pick; and the steel, a triangle played with a metal rod. Other instruments include guitar, bass and saxophone or flute used as lead instrument. The words to the songs can be about historic events, gossip or "rude" subjects.
Scratch band music goes back at least 100 years and has adapted songs and melodies from various cultures that have influenced the Virgin Islands. Many of the songs are so old nobody remembers who wrote them or where they originally came from.
Although electric instruments have been incorporated into the music in recent years, it still retains its unique "bounce."
Today the music is most often heard around Christmas, when all Virgin Islanders are Quelbe fans. It is a true cultural connection to the past.
Quelbe, Scratch band, Fungi music: Is it all really the same? As we alll know in the Virgin Islands, there are at least three sides to every story. The best advice is to just listen and enjoy.
For a full range of Caribbean music, check out www.parrotfishmusic.com.
Mr. Fish

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Quelbe, Scratch band and Fungi music are all names for the indigenous music of the Virgin Islands. If you come from St. Croix, where the music is most prolific, you call it Quelbe. The same music is called Scratch band music on St. Thomas and Fungi music on Tortola.
The term Scratch band means you play any instrument you can "scratch up." Originally this meant found or homemade instruments. Scratch bands perform for Quadrille dances, but in their true form are just a bunch of guys entertaining each other - alcohol usually involved.
Although similar music is played throughout the Caribbean, Scratch bands have developed a unique sound primarily due to their rhythm section. The instruments involved are the ukulele banjo, a short-necked, four-string banjo; the conga drum played with a mallet or stick; the squash, a gourd with grooves cut into it and played with a comb or Afro pick; and the steel, a triangle played with a metal rod. Other instruments include guitar, bass and saxophone or flute used as lead instrument. The words to the songs can be about historic events, gossip or "rude" subjects.
Scratch band music goes back at least 100 years and has adapted songs and melodies from various cultures that have influenced the Virgin Islands. Many of the songs are so old nobody remembers who wrote them or where they originally came from.
Although electric instruments have been incorporated into the music in recent years, it still retains its unique "bounce."
Today the music is most often heard around Christmas, when all Virgin Islanders are Quelbe fans. It is a true cultural connection to the past.
Quelbe, Scratch band, Fungi music: Is it all really the same? As we alll know in the Virgin Islands, there are at least three sides to every story. The best advice is to just listen and enjoy.
For a full range of Caribbean music, check out www.parrotfishmusic.com.
Mr. Fish