Musical Examples for World Literatures in English

  • Caribbean Area:

  • I. Traditional folk music
  • Abeng: The abeng us an instrument made from the horn of a cow.  It is played by blowing through a side hole located near the tip; the thumb is simultaneously used to change pitch by covering another hole at the very tip.  This instrument is derived from a West African design. . .

  • The abeng is used primarily as a signalling device.  During the days when the Maroons were at war with the British this instrument served as a vital means of communication.  . .  .By posting a network of abeng-men as sentries around their settlements, the rebels virtually ruled out the possibility of surprise attack.  [Today Abeng is used for various communication purposes, not just warning.]
    Abeng: This recording was made during the Christmas holiday, the only time of the year that the abeng can be freely blown.  The player is here ushering in the holiday.
  • Nyabingi: A pan-African-Jamaican drumming style.  Through its influence on Jamaican popular music, from ska to reggae, it has had an international impact.

  • The performance: These young Maroon men are using the traditional accompanying Maroon drums to play the Nyabingi style.  . . . In this spontaneious performance, the singers move through a medley of well-known Rastafarian chants.
  • Revival  Shows the influence of the Afro-Protestant Revival churches.

  • The recording: "Fight for War": This song, which admonishes listeners to fight for their cause, resonates with both Revivalist themes and the militant Maroon past.
    (The three songs above are from Maroon Music from the Earliest Free Black Communities of Jamaica)
  II. Calypso:
 III. Reggae:
IV. Rap