ABSTRACT

In 1993-95 I lived in Martinique, researching and participating in various genres of music: the drum/dance bèlè, Carnival marching bands, jazz combos, Guadeloupean drumming, the martial art/dance danmyé, resort hotel re-presentations of bèlè and danmyé, Afro-Cuban batád and rumba, the old popular dance-band styles biguine and mazurka, the newer dance style zouk, and Christmas party songs known as chanté Nöel. I observed, without pursuing in depth, many other genres: symphonic music, Trinidadian steel pan. Catholic masses, the reggae-based popular music ragga, the Haitian popular dance konpas. North American rap, soul, jazz, and gospel, the old quadrille styles haute faille and réjane, the music of hand-pushed merry-go-rounds or chouval hois, And there were other styles, including blendings and permutations of those listed here: jazz and bèlè, gwoka and chouval bois and zouk, zouk and ragga and rap, mazurka and zouk and quadrille. At the same time, I found myself surrounded by a political and literary discourse comprising several competing ideologies, more intense in some contexts than others, sometimes spotlit by the mass media and sometimes not, and linked—but with much crosscutting and with exceptions to every rule—296to social groups identifiable by race, age, class, gender, and location. As one might expect, many Martinicans perceived correlations between genres of music and political ideologies. As one might also expect, these correlations were contested. Not everyone saw the same connections or agreed on their meaning.