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War is a calypso form that has existed since at least the turn of the twentieth century. Originally it was sung in patois or French creole. The classic War form is an eight-line stanza, the first four lines in a minor key, then modulating into the major, and returning to the minor with the refrain "santimanite" ("sans humanité" in patois, in English "without humanity").
The object of War is to promote the calypsonian and defeat his competitors.
A War verse by Growling Tiger:
- When I was a child at the age of five
- And my dear old grandfather was alive
- He would sit me upon his knee
- And say "boy listen to me"
- He said "boy I will tell you your birth" [i.e. fortune]
- "and it is to rule over men on this earth".
- So I'm sorry for the molesters who mess with this Tiger
A War verse by Mighty Terror:
- If you want to see what I say is true
- Just call a Jamaican singer to you
- And ask him to sing extemporaneously
- You will see he hasn't this ability
- But if you call me or Lord Kitchener
- We will sing from January to December
- Why? For we are born Trinidadians and true calypsonians
- Here in Great Britain