DESCRIPTION

Guitar was first developed in the Haitian folk tradition as a part of troubadour music, or misik twoubadou, which is known for its lilting guitar and gentle melodies sung in Haitian Kreyol. Early troubadours acquired their distinctive style while working as migrant sugar cane cutters in neighboring Cuba, which after the Haitian Revolution had replaced Haiti as the world’s primary sugar producer. After long days cutting cane, Cuban and Haitian workers spent their evenings playing music and exchanging techniques, and thus Haitians traded the polyrhythmic drumming Cubans call tumba francesa for the Cuban guajira guitar style.

Cuban and Haitian workers spent their evenings playing music and exchanging techniques…

This playlist features guitarists who integrated Haitian folk music into classical guitar compositions, such a Frantz Casseus and Amos Coulanges. Casseus was born and raised in Port-au-Prince but lived most of his life in New York. He spent much of his youth traveling the Haitian countryside to draw techniques from the deep wells of Haiti’s rural cultural heritage, a task which became more urgent as he saw the extent to which folk traditions were fading away in his country. Over time his repertoire, along with that of other Haitian classical guitarists such as Coulanges, would be recognized as some of the finest guitar compositions of the twentieth century.