Caribbean Folk Music - Overview

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Information about Caribbean Folk Music - Overview

Published on March 7, 2014

Author: StefanWalcott



An overview of Caribbean folk music focussing on the musical sounds with a bit of identity. Presentation done for post-graduate Cultural Studies students at the Unviersity of the West Indies Cave Hill.

Caribbean Folk Music Sounds, Commonalities, Spaces and Identity

Cultural Narratives • Caribbean Folk music is seen to have been produced by a meeting of cultures. • Creolisation is the dominant narrative where the majority of Caribbean folk music is seen to be from African and European Cultural practices. • Creolisation equation says different European music culture + different African music culture = Different Caribbean genre

Musical Characteristics Caribbean Music African European

Africans musical concepts (retentions) • • • • call and response with repetitive lyric an emphasis on drum and bass poly-rhythm a close connection of MUSIC with specific DANCE and movements in a group participation context. • emphasis of ORAL and AURAL qualities • distinct Vocal QUALITY and TEXTURE instruments

Important Western European Musical Concepts • • • • • INSTRUMENTATION HARMONIC Structures MELODIC Structures and TONALITIES FORM LANGUAGE

Spaces • • • • • • • Curacao – Tambú Barbados – Tuk Trinidad – Lavway/Calenda Cuba – Rumba Carriacou – Big Drum Jamaica – Jonkanoo Puerto Rico – Bomba y Plena

Barbadian Folk Song

Folk Music and Nationalism • In emerging Caribbean and Latin America nations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, local elites seized upon hybridized African-European musical genres and proclaimed them "national" musics. The national forms were an exercise in the symbolics of nationhood and a means of coming to terms with the multiracial character of the New World societies (Averill 32-33). • Categorization of music, dance practices, and, by indexation, people as “folkloric” was deemed useful and necessary for creating a new national order, for mobilizing the masses, for integrating the rural“ indigenous” peoples and paradoxically for unification and stratification. The concept and category of “folklore” became a crucial politico cultural term, encompassing rural “indigenous” practices and peoples throughout Mexico. (Randall 52)

Hegemony and Homogenisation • National processes of homogenization may work on heterogeneity ...If marginal persons and groups insist on their ownership of certain cultural elements in the national mix, these are devalued and their owners defined as "not 'true' members of the ideologically defined nation." (Wade 8-9) • Though political independence has not led to economic or cultural autonomy, it has forced the Creole elite to turn to the black masses as a political constituency rather than sharply differentiating themselves as they did previously. (Safa 120)

Works Cited • Averill, Gage. A day for the hunter, a day for the prey : popular music and power in Haiti. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1997. • Lewin, Olive. Rock it come over : the folk music of Jamaica. Kingston, Jamaica, University of the West Indies Press, 2000. • Marshall, Trevor G, Peggy L. McGeary, and Grace J. I. Thompson. Folk Songs of Barbados. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 1981. Print. • Randall, Annie J. Music, Power, and Politics: [...]. New York [u.a.: Routledge, 2005. • Safa, Helen. I. "Popular culture, national identity, and race in the Caribbean." New West Indian Guide, 1997. • Wade, Peter. Music, race & nation : música tropical in Colombia. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2000.

More Info • • Pinterest – Stefan Walcott • YouTube, SlideShare and Vimeo – Stefan Walcott

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