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Frankie McIntosh and the Art of the Soca Arranger

Frankie McIntosh and the Art of the Soca Arranger

By Frankie McIntosh & Ray Allen
Hardcover : 9781496854001, 320 pages, 45 b&w illustrations, November 2024
Paperback : 9781496854018, 320 pages, 45 b&w illustrations, November 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-11-15
Expected to ship: 2024-11-15

Table of contents

Introduction: Finding the Arrangement in the Song
Chapter 1: Making Music in Saint Vincent and Antigua
Chapter 2: Brooklyn Is Meh Home
Chapter 3: The Saint Vincent Connection—Alston “Becket” Cyrus and Granville Straker
Chapter 4: The Art of the Soca Arranger
Chapter 5: Arranging with the Small Island Calypsonians
Chapter 6: Arranging with the Trinidad Stars
Chapter 7: Jazzing Up Calypso in the New Millennium
Epilogue: Our Calypso Tags
Appendix 1: Small Island Calypsos
Appendix 2: The Trinidad Calypsos
Appendix 3: Jazzing Up Calypso

A richly contextualized memoir from a celebrated soca arranger and musician


Soca music, an offspring of older Trinidadian calypso, emerged in the late 1970s and is now recognized as one of the English-speaking Caribbean’s most distinctive styles of popular vocal music. Frankie McIntosh and the Art of the Soca Arranger tells a story of Caribbean music in the diaspora through the eyes and ears of a pioneering soca arranger. A fascinating collaboration between Frankie McIntosh and music scholar Ray Allen, this cowritten memoir places the music arranger at the center of several overlapping narratives of immigration and musical diaspora.

The book begins with McIntosh’s personal voyage from St. Vincent to Brooklyn and his efforts to hammer out a career in music while raising a family in his newly adopted home. His immigrant tale is intertwined with his musical journey, from popular Caribbean dance bands through formal studies in Western classical music and jazz to his work as a gigging jazz pianist and calypso/soca arranger. Along the way he embraced the varied musics of New York’s African American and West Indian communities, working with such iconic calypsonians as the Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchner, Calypso Rose, and Alston Becket. His story provides a unique lens for viewing Brooklyn Carnival music and brings into focus the borough’s rise to prominence as the transnational hub of the soca music industry in the 1980s.

An alternative to traditional scholarship that tends to focus on calypso and soca singers, this work explores the instrumental dimensions of the art form through the life and music of one of the most celebrated soca arrangers and keyboardists of all time.