percussion / ethnomusicology
As an ethnomusicologist, my main interests lie in the areas of Caribbean and African music, jazz and other African Diasporic genres, music in social movements, and percussion. My most extended research has been into traditional music of Martinique, in the French Antilles, where I lived from 1993-1995 (with several additional, shorter trips). This work resulted in a Ph.D. dissertation ("Traditional Music in a New Social Movement: The Renewal of Bèlè in Martinique (French West Indies)," UC Berkeley 1996) as well as articles in Ethnomusicology, Black Music Research Journal, New West Indies Guide, and the New Grove Dictionary of Music. (These are listed on the CV page.)
Martinique's remarkable drumming traditions (often called, collectively, bèlè) feature a barrel-shaped drum (tanbou) that the drummer lays on its side and sits on, using one heel to change the pitch. Drummers also fill the spaces between their main notes with an almost constant one-handed roll! The island's traditiional music has been revived in recent years as part of a movement promoting political awareness and ethnic pride, which is the subject of my dissertation. You can hear an example of bèlè drumming and singing here:
Performed by Raoul Grivalliers, lead singer; Florent Baratini, tanbou bèlè; tibwa (sticks) and chorus.
Recorded on June 17, 1962 in Pérou, Sainte-Marie, Martinique
This example is from the first of two CDs that a Martinican colleague, Dominique Cyrille, and myself had the opportunity to edit. The music on both CDs was recorded in 1962 by the folklorist Alan Lomax, who made an extended trip to the Caribbean that year. His recordings remained unreleased until now. The first CD is devoted entirely to Martinique, the second to three French Antillean islands: Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Bart's.
Martinique: Canefields and City Streets. In the CD series,
Caribbean Voyage: The 1962 Field Recordings of Alan Lomax.
Rounder 11661-1730-2 (2001)
The French Antilles: We Will Play Love Tonight! In the CD series, Caribbean Voyage: The 1962 Field Recordings of Alan Lomax. Rounder (2004)
To find out more about these recordings, visit
Alan Lomax Archives
If you're interested in reading more about the traditions of Martinique (and Martinique's sister island Guadeloupe), consult my CV, or download the following article:
New Grove Dictionary of Music, 2nd edition. Ed. Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan (2001)
Another more recent article I'm quite excited about is historical in nature. It concerns a colonial-era dance known as kalenda (or kalinda, calenda, or calinda), widespread throughout the Caribbean, South America and as far north as New Orleans. Kalenda stands to tell us a great deal about the history of early Caribbean culture and the process of creolization. But, my article cautions, we need to treat historical records carefully, as much is vague and even distortedómainly due to white observers' inability to understand what they were observing. If you want to read more, download this article:
Kalenda and Other Neo-African Dances in the Circum-Caribbean."
New West Indies Guide 78 (1&2): 5-41 (2004)
These articles are copyrighted material. Students, if you use them in a paper, remember that you must credit the author (me) even if you don't quote exactly ("paraphrasing"). More important, you should not assume that simplyreading and quoting (orparaphrasing) means that you understand the material. Find other things to read as well, so that you have a broader perspective. Be sure to listen to the music, too: just reading about music doesn't give you the understanding that listening does!
In addition to my work on Martinique, I've done research
on experimental jazz, specifically the music of the drummer Milford Graves.
(See the M.A. listed in my CV.) I've also done extensive interviews
with African popular musicians based in the U.S. about changing constructions
of their music; and with Mexican folk music interpreters.
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