In trying to understand the music of Haiti, I find myself taking a transnational approach, because, as I keep arguing, the Haitian revolution was a generative explosion for the popular music of the hemisphere. It sent populations up and down the Atlantic coast and the Antilles—and ultimately to New Orleans, where many families from Saint-Domingue were reunited. There are places today where you can connect the dots by listening. Let me, then, make some connections.
To Elizabeth’s evocation of the trumpet and snare drum of the colonial military bands (which ultimately became the basis of the jazz instrumentation in New Orleans), I would add the vocal legacy of the military drill, which evolved into the gruff vocal style of dancehall reggae. The adoption of this vocal style throughout the Antilles echoes the universality of the quadrille in the same territories two centuries ago, when a commandeur barked out the dance steps. Jump Here