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Creole Music Of The French West Indies

A Discography 1900-1959

The history of black musical traditions in the Caribbean is rich in variety and follows a long and distinguished path paralleling the development of similar vernacular genres in North and South America. By the late 1800s, the biguine, with its origin in the slavery period, became the epitome of black French Antillean Creole music. It was highly popular in Saint-Pierre, Martinique, before the town’s decimation by the volcanic eruption of Mont Pelée in 1902.

This most cosmopolitan and vibrant settlement was the heart of French Creole culture in the region and included a Carnival that equalled the Shrovetide festivals of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad (in the south) and New Orleans (in the north). The music of Saint-Pierre lived on despite the catastrophe, and from 1929 became a feature of pre-Second World War Paris nightclubs and recording studios. The biguine was not exclusive to Martinique, and was performed also in the French territories of Guyane and Guadeloupe. [ Illustrated with record labels, catalogues, photographs, advertisements, maps, and other relevant images, this pioneering discography lists recordings by linguists, anthropologists and folklorists (commencing in 1900) alongside commercial endeavours of biguine orchestras, from the first sides cut by Stellio in 1929 to 1959 – dawn of the changing 1960s.

While the recording cycle begins somewhat later, the discography enables empirical comparison with parallel black Creole jazz recordings from New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A., and records representing the string band and calypso traditions of Trinidad. Printed in both French and English, a notable feature is the contextual essay by John Cowley – ‘Mascarade, biguine and the bal nègre’ – which traces the roots of the music from its French Antillean inception, via the Carnivals of Saint-Pierre, to the opening of the Parisian bal nègre in the rue Blomet in 1924 and the burgeoning popularity of the genre fuelled by the Exposition Coloniale de Paris in 1931.


Alain Boulanger, John Cowley & Marc Monneraye

Creole Music Of The French West Indies A Discography 1900-1959

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Creole Music Of The French West Indies A Discography 1900-1959
Alain Boulanger, John Cowley & Marc Monneraye: Creole Music Of The French West Indies A... Art-Nr.: BFB10028

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Creole Music Of The French West Indies, A Discography, 1900-1959 Compiled by Alain Boulanger, John Cowley and Marc Monneraye With an historical essay 'Mascarade, biguine and the bal nègre' by John Cowley Translators: Patrice Champarou...
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