Monday, February 20, 2017

Black History Month: Caribbean Styles

Enslaved Africans were sent to the Caribbean Islands during the colonial era, and due to separation from other cultures and enslavement by different countries, developed individual musical styles.

Haiti is known for music that most closely resembles the Yoruba people.  Though officially Catholic, for centuries the people practiced an African version of the religion, Vodou or Vodoun.  Through music, spirits enter the body of practitioners.

ML1038.S74 S65 2012
Trinidad is best known for steel drums, or steel pan drums.  African slaves had long used various percussion instruments, and slaves deprived of traditional instruments innovated with the materials at hand.  This tradition persisted in modern cultures, and Trinidadians developed pitched instruments from steel pans (usually from oil drums) that are now popular instruments worldwide.

Jamaican Reggae evolved from a genre called Rock Steady, and is most closely associated with Bob Marley and the Wailers, whose most famous songs sing of freedom with a Jamaican accent.  His son, Ziggy Marley, continues the tradition.

Reggae would become popular worldwide, especially in Africa.  Artists such as Lucky Dube and the Refugee All Stars of Sierra Leone adopted the genre, using it as a means of protest from an African point of view.

DVD Video 413
Read about Reggae in Oxford Music Online / Grove Music or Music Online: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. (log in required from off campus)

Cuba, colonized by Spanish slave masters, developed diverse styles as freed slaves mastered Colonial styles.  Retaining the percussive aesthetic of African music, Cuban jazz is often referred to as "Afro-Cuban."  Latin-tinged jazz of the 1950s derives from American musicians' fascination with Cuban music.  Cuban musicians who became famous in the 20th Century include Xavier Cugat and Pérez Prado, the "Mambo King."   More recent performers are Tito Puente, Bebo Valdés and Ibrahim Ferrer.      For more sabór de Cuba, check out the famous video of the Buena Vista Social Club.

ML3532.5 .R44 2009
Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans of New York, developed Reggaeton, which is more closely related to rap than to reggae.  Popular artists include Daddy Yankee and Wisin & Yandel.  This Latin-tinged rap music sprang from the
Puerto Rican DJ community first in Puerto Rico and later also in
the in the Bronx and the American West Coast.
It reached its peak of
popularity ca. 2005-2010.

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To search for the music of a specific country or style, use the Libraries' Media Finders. (http://www.bsu.edu/library →  (Research) →  Media Finders.  There is one for World Music and one for Musical Recordings (Other than classical).

The World Music finder searches for books, DVDs, and musical instruments (Educational Technology and Resources Collection) as well as recordings:


The "Music Other Than Classical" media finder allows you to choose country and style, for example, jazz from Cuba:





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