|Music of Haiti|
|Media and performance|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||La Dessalinienne|
The music of Haiti is influenced mostly by African migration through slavery. Styles unique to Haiti include music derived from vodou ceremonical traditions and the wildly popular Compas. Alan Lomax first recorded Haitian music in 1937 under the auspices of The Library of Congress.
- "I have looked about enough to be sure this is the richest and most virgin field I have ever worked in. I hear fifteen or twenty different street cries from my hotel window each morning while I dress. The men sing satirical ballads as they load coffee on the docks. Among the upper-class families many of the old French ballads have been preserved. The meringue, the popular dance of polite society here, is quite unknown in America and has its roots in the intermingling of the Spanish and French folk-traditions. The orchestras of the peasants play marches, bals, blues, meringues. Then mama and papa and kata tambours officiate at as many kinds of dances; the congo, the Vodou, and the mascaron. Then there seem to be innumerable cante-fables [oral tales punctuated by songs or rhymes performed by the audience]. Each of these categories comprise, so I am informed, literally hundreds of melodies; French, Spanish, African, mixtures of the three. The radio and the sound movie and the phonograph record have made practically no cultural impression, so far as I can discover, except among the petit-bourgeois of the coastal cities. And American jazz is hardly known here except among the rich who have visited America. Composition, by which I mean folk composition, is still very active. So I think I can say that unless a piece of sky falls on my head, this trip will mean some beautiful records for the Library's collection."
Rara music is a Lenten processional music with strong ties to the Vodou religious tradition. It has been commonly confused with Haitian Carnival since both celebrations involve large groups of dancing revelers in the streets. Rara is performed between Ash Wednesday (the day after Carnival ends) until Easter Sunday (or Easter Monday in some parts of Haiti.) Rara bands roam the streets performing religious ceremonies as part of their ritual obligations to the "lwa" or spirits of Haitian Voodoo. Guédé, a spirit associated with death and sexuality, is an important spiritual presence in Rara celebrations and often possesses a hougan (male Voodoo priest) or mambo (female Voodoo priest) before the band begins its procession in order to bless the participants and wish them safe travels for their nightly sojourns.
Starting in the late 1970s (with discontent surrounding the increasing oppulence of the Duvalier dictatorship), youth from Port-au-Prince (and to a lesser extent Cap-Haïtien and other urban areas) began experimenting with new types of life. François Duvalier's appropriation of Vodou images as a terror technique, the increase in US assembly and large-scale export agriculture, the popularity of disco, and Jean-Claude Duvalier's appreciation of konpa and chanson française disillusioned many youth and love.
To question the dictatorship's notion of "the Haitian nation" (and thus the dictatorship itself), several men began trying a new way of living, embodied in the Sanba Movement. They drew upon global trends in black power, Bob Marley, "Hippie"-dom, as well as prominently from rural life in Haiti. They dressed in the traditional blue denim (karoko) of peasants, eschewed the commercialized and processed life offered by global capitalism, and celebrated the values of communal living. Later, they adopted matted hair which resembled dreadlocks, but identified the style as something which existed in Haiti with the term cheve simbi, referring to water spirits.
The most well-known of these were Sanba Zao (Louis Leslie Marcellin), Ayizan (Harry Sanon), Azouke (Gregory Sanon), Aboudja (Ronald Derencourt), Kebyesou Danle (Jean Raymond) and Chico (Yves Boyer). They formed a band called Sanba yo and later, Gwoup Sa. Later still, other musicians like Lolo (Theodore Beaubrun), Papa Bonga, and Eddy François joined the trend. This was the modern precursor to what would become mizik rasin. One of these groups recorded a song in the 1980s for a UNICEF campaign for vaccination which is included on the LP Konbit!.
In the 1990s, commercial success came to the musical genre that came to be known as mizik rasin, or "roots music". Musicians like Boukman Eksperyans, and Boukan Ginen, and to a lesser extent RAM, incorporated reggae, rock and funk rhythms into traditional forms and instrumentation, including rara, music from kanaval, or traditional spiritual music from the rural hamlets called lakous, like Lakou Souvnans, Lakou Badjo, Lakou Soukri, or Lakou Dereyal. Though initially the people involved followed the ways of the Sanba Movement, eventually this began to fade. Increased political and economic pressures saw many of these people emigrate (to the US and Canada, primarily). Both those who stayed and those who traveled between countries began adding more non-Haitian (strictly speaking) elements and implemented a more commercial sound to earn more money and a wider audience.
Although the message of much of the sanba-oriented bands espouse values of equality, several members have been linked to male chauvinism ideas and even domestic violence. (c.f. the book Walking on Fire, Beverly Bell).
Compas (in French) or Kompa (in Creole) kompa is a modern Haitian Méringue. Born in the 19th century is spelled Méringue in French, Mereng in Haiti Creole and Haitian Méringue in the Dominican Republic. Since Haiti comprises the western part of the island while the Dominicans live in the eastern part of the same Hispaniola island, the two traditions have much in common.
kompa direct was popularized in the mid-1950s by the sax and guitar player Nemours Jean Baptiste. Its Merengue soon became popular throughout the Antilles, especially in Martinique and Guadeloupe. Webert Sicot and Nemours Jean Baptiste became the two leaders in the group. Sicot then left and formed a new group and an intense rivalry developed, though they remained good friends. To differentiate himself from Nemours, Sicot called his modern Méringue cadence rampa.
The local homegrown Haitian hip hop movement is rising in popularity in Haiti and other Haitian communities. It is becoming more and more popular with Haitian youth, often communicating social and political topics as well as materialism. kompa as well as other popular local music beats are used frequently with urban sounds. Recent years have seen a rise in popularity for Haitian Hip-Hop artists such as Barikad Crew and Jimmy O. Other Haitian hip hop artists have yet to evolve.
Torch, has been rapping since the mid-1980s and has been one of the most influential contributors to German hip hop. He is "a hip hop activist, appointed by rap-godfather Afrika Bambaataa to head the first German chapter of Zulu Nation... His band Advanced Chemistry released a maxi-single in November 1992. The song, "Fremd in eigenem Land" (foreigner in your own country), made a pointed statement about the position of immigrants in German society."
- Margaret Musmon; Elizabeth A. (INT) Hanley, Jacques D'Amboise (2010). Latin and Caribbean Dance (World of Dance). Chelsea House Publications. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-60413-481-0 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Brown, Timothy S. "‘Keeping it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-) Americanization and Hip-hop in Germany." In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 137-50. London
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (60 minutes): Haiti 2000. Accessed November 25, 2010.
- Manuel, Peter; Kenneth Bilby and Michael Largey (2006). Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae (2nd ed.). Temple University Press. ISBN 1-59213-463-7 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Steward, Sue and Sean Harvey. "Compass Points". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, pp 421–429. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- Haitian music community
- Experience Haitian music on Mizikpam Internet Radio Accessed May 18, 2010
- Music of Haiti at the Open Directory Project
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (45 minutes): Music of Haiti - part 1. Accessed November 25, 2010.
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (45 minutes): Music of Haiti - part 2. Accessed November 25, 2010.