A Study of the Music of Selected Traditional Folk Dances of St. Lucia

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A Study of the music of selected traditional folk dances of St. Lucia by Jason C. Joseph (2006). UWI, St. Augustine. TABLE OF CO TE TS

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ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................................... 3 ACK OWLEDGEME TS .............................................................................................. 4 CHAPTER 1 ...................................................................................................................... 5 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................. 5 Significance of the study.............................................................................................. 6 CHAPTER 2 ...................................................................................................................... 8 LITERATURE REVIEW ....................................................................................................... 8 CHAPTER 3 .................................................................................................................... 10 THE SHAPING OF ST. LUCIAS FOLK CULTURE ............................................................... 10 The folk music of Saint Lucia .................................................................................... 11 The Origin of St. Lucias Traditional folk Dances .................................................... 12 The Revival of St. Lucias Folk Music ...................................................................... 13 The St. Lucian Folk Band .......................................................................................... 15 The Folk Musicians ................................................................................................... 16 CHAPTER 4 .................................................................................................................... 18 METHODOLOGY.............................................................................................................. 18 Limitations................................................................................................................. 18 CHAPTER 5 .................................................................................................................... 20 A CLOSER LOOK AT THE TRADITIONAL FOLK DANCES OF ST. LUCIA ............................ 20 The La Konmet .......................................................................................................... 21 The Moulala .............................................................................................................. 21 The schottische .......................................................................................................... 22 The Weedova ............................................................................................................. 23 The Italian Polka ....................................................................................................... 23 The Kwibish ............................................................................................................... 24

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A Study of the music of selected traditional folk dances of St. Lucia by Jason C. Joseph (2006). UWI, St. Augustine. CHAPTER 6 .................................................................................................................... 25 ANALYSIS OF THE MUSIC OF SELECTED TRADITIONAL DANCES..................................... 25 Lakonmt Pitj .......................................................................................................... 25 Lakonmt Mazouk ..................................................................................................... 26 The Schottish (Shoddish) ........................................................................................... 28 The Moulala .............................................................................................................. 29 The Weedova ............................................................................................................. 31 The Polka .................................................................................................................. 32 The Kwibish ............................................................................................................... 34 CHAPTER 7 .................................................................................................................... 36 CO CLUSIO ................................................................................................................ 36 RECOMMENDATIONS ...................................................................................................... 37 APPE DIX A .................................................................................................................. 38 EXCERPTS OF TRADITIONAL FOLK MUSIC ...................................................................... 38 APPE DIX B .................................................................................................................. 48 TRADITIONAL FOLK WEAR OF ST. LUCIA........................................................................ 48 GLOSSARY ..................................................................................................................... 49 BIBLIOGRAPHY ........................................................................................................... 50 I TER ET SOURCES .................................................................................................. 51 LIST OF RECORDI GS CO SULTED ..................................................................... 51

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A Study of the music of selected traditional folk dances of St. Lucia by Jason C. Joseph (2006). UWI, St. Augustine.

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Abstract

The traditional dances of St. Lucia are all adaptations of European dances, which have remained a part of the folk culture of the island from since the emancipation of slavery. At present, there is little interest among average St. Lucians in the traditional dances and folk music, despite efforts by various groups and folk activists to revive what was once a dying culture.

The selected dances lakonmt, moulala, schottische (shoddish), polka, weedova and kwibish are all partnered, ballroom-type dances and are usually accompanied by a folk or string band. The main instruments used in a folk band are the violin, banjo, chak chak, guitar and occasionally the tanbou. Those instruments are played by men who are over forty years of age and who generally possess no formal or theoretical training.

In the limited repertoire of dance music that is used, both European and African influences can be found. The simple harmonies, syncopated rhythms and short, repetitive melodic phrases are some of the features associated with the music. Each dance has its own characteristic rhythm, which is played by the two main instruments the banjo and the chak chak.

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A Study of the music of selected traditional folk dances of St. Lucia by Jason C. Joseph (2006). UWI, St. Augustine.

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Acknowledgements

The writer would like to express sincere gratitude to George Fish Alphonse at the Department of Culture in St. Lucia and Kennedy Boots Samuel at the St. Lucia Folk Research Centre for their guidance and advice, which helped to clarify the focus of this research. In addition, the writer would like to acknowledge Minetta Plummer, the librarian at the St. Lucia School of Music, for her patience, and Satanand Sharma, a senior lecturer at the Department of Music, University of the West Indies, for his assistance with the Finale music notation software. To all the musicians, dancers and informants (Frank Norville, Theresa Hall, Augustin Charlie Julian, Joan Hyacinth), who willingly gave of their time, your valuable contribution towards the preservation and development of St. Lucias folk heritage, then and now, is greatly appreciated.

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A Study of the music of selected traditional folk dances of St. Lucia by Jason C. Joseph (2006). UWI, St. Augustine.

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Chapter 1Introduction

Prior to about 1970, the folk dancing tradition of St. Lucia was popular mainly in the rural communities at special functions and kwadril evenings.1 With the assistance and perseverance of various groups and cultural activists there has been a revival in the tradition to a point where it is acknowledged on a national level. Performances of these traditional dances can now be seen at hotels and official government functions. Classes and workshops are occasionally held to train the younger members of society in an attempt to ensure the perpetuation of the art form.

This has resulted in an increased awareness of the dances among the public. However, there are many who are still unable to recognize even the more popular of the dances, like the Lakonmt Pitj.2 The folk dances and folk music are still viewed today as belonging to the older generation and according to Joan Hyacinth, a dance activist, it is only when students travel to universities they see the importance (of the folk dances).3 The folk bands still consist of mainly middle aged or elderly musicians who are underpaid for their services in comparison to other pop bands. The teaching of the folk instruments, the music, and the dances at schools, is generally non-existent and folk music is rarely played, even during cultural activities and celebrations.

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Jocelyne Guillibaut. Events in the Lives of the People of a Caribbean Island, St. Lucia. University of Michigan 1984. pg 92 Kwadril evenings were dance sessions at which the kwadril and other traditional dances were danced. Earl Agdoma Interview. 16th January 2006. Earl Agdoma is a founding member of the Helen Folk Dancers

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Joan Hyacinth Interview. 23rd December 2005. Joan Hyacinth is one of the early members of Les Danceurs Tradicionale de St. Licie

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A Study of the music of selected traditional folk dances of St. Lucia by Jason C. Joseph (2006). UWI, St. Augustine.

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There are many who believe that the folk music on the whole is grossly neglected and only receives lip service from the relevant authorities.4 The American Country and Western music, on the other hand, has become increasingly popular, even among the youth, and dances are held almost every weekend throughout the country.

Significance of the study The writer, being a folk enthusiast, has always held the view that the popularity of the folk dances would increase and the music would be better appreciated if new music was discovered and created. The limited repertoire of music, which is currently used for folk dancing, has remained the same for many years and one would naturally get tired of hearing the same songs and the same recordings being played. In some instances, there is only one known song for certain dances an example of this being the kwibish.

Although there have been many attempts by local musicians to fuse folk rhythms with their compositions and arrangements, very little has been done in the way of composing new material in the styles of the various traditional dances. One of St. Lucias renowned Jazz musicians, Ronald Boo Hinkson, admitted to using some stylistic features of the dances only in a subtle manner in his strumming patterns.5 The lakonmt seems to be the only dance, which has received attention from composers, leading the writer to the belief that local musicians are generally unfamiliar with the other dances.

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Earl Agdoma Interview. 16th January 2006 Ronald Boo Hinkson Interview. 23rd December 2005.

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A Study of the music of selected traditional folk dances of St. Lucia by Jason C. Joseph (2006). UWI, St. Augustine.

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It is hoped that this research will be of value, particularly to music educators and local musicians, in stimulating the exploration and development of St. Lucias traditional dance music.

There are about nine known traditional dances of St. Lucia. Six of them will be discussed in the subsequent chapters: lakonmt, moulala, schottische, weedova, polka and kwibish. These dances were selected because the music to which they are danced each has its own unique style and musical features. Other traditional dances, like the gwan won and orwegian, are not associated with any particular style of music and can be danced using any type of up-tempo music. Therefore, they were not selected. The kwadril, which is another popular folk dance, is complex and contains four figures or sections. In order to analyse this dance it would be necessary for both the writer and the reader to understand the intricacies of the dance patterns. For this reason, it was omitted. There are a number of other dances commonly referred to as ethnic dances, which are also part of St. Lucias folk culture. These include Solo, Belair Kont, Kutumba, Dbot and Piquant. These dances are accompanied by mainly drums and lack the form and instrumentation of the traditional European dances. Hence, they were also omitted.

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A Study of the music of selected traditional folk dances of St. Lucia by Jason C. Joseph (2006). UWI, St. Augustine.

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Chapter 2Literature Review

There is currently some research by Jocelyne Guilbault on several aspects of St. Lucias musical folk traditions.6 The thesis contains a detailed analysis of the kwadril and some general characteristics of the lakonmt Pitj. These two dances are categorized in her research as musical styles of St. Lucia, along with other styles, such as omans. manpa and the March. Some ethnic songs and dances, including dbt, yonbt, solo song, jw pt and chant kont are also discussed.

The thesis also explores many other facets of St. Lucias folk culture, such as the La Rose and La Maguerite seyances, the folk instruments and musicians, and the various categories of St. Lucian folk music.

Jocelyne Guilbaults research has served as a main source of reference for another related thesis by Anne Marie Small-Biroo, a graduate of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad. In her undergraduate thesis7, Biroo (2004) examines the work of Charles Cadet a prominent St. Lucian composer who has been credited for his contribution towards the development of folk

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Jocelyne Guilbault. Events in the Lives of the People of a Caribbean Island, St. Lucia. University of Michigan, 1984.

Anne Marie Small-Biroo. Biography of Charles Cadet and his Contribution to the Music of St. Lucia. University of the West Indies, 2004

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A Study of the music of selected traditional folk dances of St. Lucia by Jason C. Joseph (2006). UWI, St. Augustine.

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music in St. Lucia. In Biroos thesis, references to the lakonmt Pitj and other musical styles outlined by Guilbault are also made.

A publication by one of St. Lucias folk musicians and folk activists, Frank Norville, contains valuable research...