The origins of soca music are found in the traditional calypso art form. But while the strength of calypso is grounded on its innovative lyrics and social commentary, the power and message of soca is transmitted in its rhythm and fast paced beats.
Soca, which was created in Trinidad and Tobago, has emerged as the dominant sound for the Carnival Season, replacing the steel pan melodies of time past. The sound of soca is one of the main driving forces for that period of high energy and gaiety.
Some persons categorise soca music as the natural evolution of calypso, created for a younger more vibrant audience. Others lament the lack of craftsmanship in its lyrics and its melodic structure. Yet no one can ignore the significant role that soca plays in the national festival today.
The derivatives of soca have created their own niches in the domestic musical landscape.
Chutney soca, as its name suggests, combines chutney and soca music. It successfully fuses two great art platforms of two unique sub-cultures together in a harmonious and entertaining manner. Chutney Soca is now a part of the carnival mainstream and has its own separate competitions during the build up to Carnival.
Groovy soca is the more sensuous side of soca. This medium tempo sub-genre is the response of the soca fraternity to the criticisms of a lack of depth in soca music. Many see it as the saving grace to the soca artform as its melodious lines and palatable lyrics make it a more acceptable musical form for calypso purists.
Ragga soca is, in some ways, the opposite of groovy soca. Emphasis is placed on the spit-fire lyrics that are layered over the driving kick drum and heavy, but danceable bass line that are typically found in the Jamaican dancehall music. Soca and dancehall create an effortless synergy. The main performers in the raga soca niche include Bunji Garlin and Maximus Dan.
Parang soca is popular form of Christmas folk music that injects Spanish elements and Christmas themes into soca music. It is most popular during the final months of the year as Christmas is an important season in Trinidad and Tobago.