La musique et l’île de la Réunion

La musique et l’île de la Réunion

In the blink of a news cycle the world has become geographically familiar with Reunion Island. Airplane parts have drifted to the Reunion shoreline.
That flotsam may have been part of the ill fated flight MH 370, a suspected highjacking.
People pay attention to geography when things go  good or when things go real bad.
If you have a whit of interest in music, you should know more about this island. Reunion should be known for more than just the riddle of a missing airplane.

It is an Island in the Indian Ocean East of Madagascar and has a population of approximately 700,000. Reunion is a gleaming example of cultural blending. The demography shows that its residents are African, French, Malagasy, Malabar (Indian) and S.E. Chinese. They have all resided on this island for approximately 370 years.
Now that this island is in the news people should realize that this island is a treasure trove of ethnomusicological importance.

Reunion musique’ blends the sophistication of French & African influence, Jazz, Sega, Zouk, Calypso & Maloya.
Maloya is the equivalent to American Blues music, it was sung by slaves from Indian, Africa and Malagasy.
The French have had considerable influence in Reunion and considered this music a threat to the French State and Maloya was purportedly banned in the 1970’s.

The merging of these numerous cultural identities produced musicians like world renown accordionist Rene La Caille.
Their music is a labyrinth of poly-rhythms and is a challenge for listeners that have grown up on 3/4 and 4/4 pop music.
You will need special permission from your brain to listen to this beautiful and complex music.
Reunion musique’ often time employs  a 6/8 time signature with beats on the 2nd and 3rd.
If you think you might have an interest in the music, seek no further.  Bob Brozman and Rene La Calille collaborated on an album called Dig Dig, it won the Library of Congress Award.

Flotsam may litter the shore but musique’ fills the air.

Bill Keitel

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