“MUSIC OF THE SLAVES” IN THE INDIAN OCEAN CREOLE ISLANDS: A PERSPECTIVE FROM THE SEYCHELLES

Keywords: Seychelles, Mascarenes Islands, Sega, Moutya, Maloya, Creole, Musical exchanges

Abstract

This article examines the development and expression of the moutya from Seychelles, in relation to the sega from Mauritius and the maloya from Reunion.  These musical styles and their associated practices are recognised as evidence of an African heritage in the archipelagos. To better understand their connections and singularities, I utilise a diachronic and synchronic approach, at local and regional levels. The purpose is to demonstrate the mobility of musicians and the permeability of musical practices in these islands over time, using history and narratives from the colonial period (from the end of the seventeenth century) to the present, and fieldwork observations. This approach shows how music and dance elements from Africa are creolised on the islands and how they are further adapted as islanders travel around these islands. In the process one musical practice becomes many, although they fall into a matrix of styles sharing similar features. The article approaches the emergence and the transformation of (what would become) moutya in the Seychelles by first describing the emergence of musical creativity in the Mascarenes and Seychelles. This is followed by a discussion of the transition from a marginal and resistance form of music to new musical categories. Finally, the article describes circulations and musical exchanges between the islands, opening the door to a better understanding of Creole culture and music in the south-western Indian Ocean islands.

Author Biography

Marie-Christine Parent, Independent Researcher

Marie-Christine Parent earned PhDs in Ethnomusicology from the Université de Montréal (Canada) and the Université Côte d’Azur (France), during which she studied intangible heritage and identity issues related to moutya, a musical genre and practice from the Seychelles islands (Indian Ocean). Her research focuses on postcolonial cultures, creolization processes, cultural policies, and artistic creativity in relation to tradition, performance, musicians’ professionalisation, cultural tourism and creative industries. Marie-Christine was the French review editor of the Canadian peer-reviewed journal MUSICultures from 2013 to 2019. Currently she is the programme manager at the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

References

Allen, Richard B. 2004 “The Mascarene Slave-Trade and Labour Migration in the Indian Ocean During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.” In The Structure of Slavery in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia, Gwyn Campbell, ed. 33–50. London: Frank Cass.

Allen, Richard B. 2010 “Satisfying the ‘Want for Labouring People’: European Slave Trading in the Indian Ocean 1500-1850.” Journal of World History 21 (1): 45–73.

Alpers, Edward A. 2019 “The Musical Legacies of Slavery and Indentured Labour in the Mascarene Islands.” In History, Memory and Identity: Comparative Perspectives, Vol. 2, Edward A. Alpers, Stéphan Karghoo and Vijayalakshmi Teelock, eds. 89-110. Port-Louis: Nelson Mandela Centre for African Culture Trust Fund.

Aubert, Laurent and Luc Charles-Dominique. 2009 “Introduction.” Cahiers d’Ethnomusicologie 20: 11–14.

Ballgobin, D. Veena and Marclaine Antoine. 2003 “Traditional Musical Instruments from Oral Tradition: Folk Music in Mauritius.” Revi Kiltirel Kreol 3: 69–82.

Baron, Robert and Ana C. Cara. 2011 Creolization as Cultural Creativity. Jackson: The University Press of Mississippi.

Bonniol, Jean-Luc. 2013 “Au Prisme de la Créolisation: Tentatives d’Epuisement d’un Concept.” L’Homme 207–208: 237–288.

Chaudenson, Robert. 1992 Des Îles, des Hommes, des Langues. Paris: L’Harmattan.

Chaudenson, Robert. 1995 Les Créoles. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Chaudenson, Robert. 2012 “La Genèse des Créoles des Mascareignes et des Seychelles: Microcosme et Substrats.” Études Océan Indien 48: http://journals.openedition.org/oceanindian.1503 [accessed 19 November 2020].

Chaudenson, Robert. 2013 “Approche (Historico-)Linguistique des Créoles des Mascareignes et des Seychelles.” Études Océan Indien 49–50: DOI:10.4000/oceanindien.1823 [accessed on 19 November 2020].

Déodat, Caroline. 2017 Troubler le Genre du ‘séga typique’: Imaginaire et Performativité Poétique de la Créolité Mauricienne. PhD Dissertation: École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, France.

Desroches, Monique. 1996 Tambour des Dieux. Musique et Sacri$ce d’Origine Tamoule en Martinique. Paris/Montreal: L’Harmattan.

Desroches, Monique. 2000 “Musique et Identité Culturelle des Tamouls de la Réunion.” In Au Visiteur Lumineux. Des Îles Créoles aux Sociétés Plurielles. Mélanges O"erts à Jean Benoist, Jean Barnabé, Jean-Luc Bonniol, Raphaël Constant and Gerry L’Étang, eds. 321–330. Petit-Bourg: GEREC-F/Presses Universitaires Créoles, Matoury: Ibis.

Desroches, Monique. 2011 “Musique Touristique et Patrimoine à la Martinique.” In Territoires Musicaux mis en Scène, Monique Desroches, Marie-Hélène Pichette, Claude Dauphin and Gordon E. Smith, eds. 61–74. Montréal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal.

Desroches, Monique and Guillaume Samson. 2002 “La Quête d’Authenticité dans les Musiques Réunionnaises.” In Anthropologie de la Réunion, Christian Ghasarian, ed. 201–218. Paris: Éditions des archives Contemporaines.

Des Rosiers, Brigitte. 2004 Les Chants de l’Oubli: La Pratique du Chant Traditionnel à l’Île Rodrigues (République de Maurice): Exemple d’Autonomie Sociale et Culturelle d’une Musique Créole. PhD Dissertation: Université de Montréal, Canada.

Emielu, Austin. 2011 “Some theoretical Perspectives on African Popular Music.” Popular Music 30 (3): 371–388.

Emoff, Ron. 2008 “Music of Madagascar: An Overview.” In The Concise Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Vol. 1. 123–129. New York & London: Routledge.

Estralle, Marvelle. 2007 Tradisyon Oral dan Kiltir Seselwa. Mahé, Seychelles: Lenstiti Kreol.

Floyd, Samuel A. Jr. 1995 The Power of Black Music. Interpreting its History from Africa to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press.

Guilbault, Jocelyne. 1984 Musical Events in the Lives of the People of a Caribbean Island, St.Lucia. PhD Dissertation: University of Michigan, USA.

Halbwachs, Maurice. 1925 Les Cadres Sociaux de la Mémoire. Paris: Félix Alcan.

Howard, Keith. 2014 “Foreword. The Past is No Longer a Foreign Country.” In Theory and Method in Historical Ethnomusicology, Jonathan McCollum and David G. Hebert, eds. ix-xv. Lexington Books: London.

Khatile, David. 2012 “La Haute-Taille: un Paradigme de Créolisation Culturelle.” Archipélies 3–4. De la créolisation culturelle: 191–213.

Koechlin, Bernard. 1981 Musique Traditionnelle de l’Océan Indien. Seychelles. Radiothèques. Paris: Centre de documentation Africaine/Radio-France Internationale.

Lagarde, Benjamin. 2007 “Un Monument Musical à la Mémoire des Ancêtres Esclaves: le Maloya (Île de la Réunion).” Conserveries mémorielles 3: 27–46.

Lagarde, Benjamin. 2012 Réunion Maloya: La Créolisation Réunionnaise Telle qu’Entendue Depuis sa musique Traditionnelle. PhD Dissertation: Université d’Aix-Marseille III–Paul Cézanne, France.

La Selve, Jean-Pierre. 1984 Musiques Traditionnelles de la Réunion. Saint-Denis-de-la-Réunion: Azalées.

Lee, Jacques K. 1990 Sega: !e Mauritian Folk Dance. Oxford: Nautilus Publishing Company.

Lionnet, Guy. 2001 Par les Chemins de la Mer: Périple aux Séchelles au Temps des Voyages au Long Cours. Saint-Denis: Université de la Réunion.

M. le Baron d’Unienville. 1838 Statistique de l’Île Maurice et ses Dépendances. Paris: Gustave Barba.

Manuel, Peter. 1988 Popular Musics of the Non-Western World. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Naylor, Michael Lee. 1997 !e Creativity in Culture: Creolization in the Musical Genres of the Seychelles Islands. PhD Dissertation: University of Michigan, USA.

Parent, Marie-Christine. 2015 “Représentations Publiques de la Diversité Culturelle en Milieu Créole: Le Cas des Seychelles (Océan Indien).” In La Diversité des Patrimoines. Du Rejet du Discours à l’Eloge des Pratiques, Daniella Moisa and Jessica Roda, eds. 39–64. Québec: PUQ.
Parent, Marie-Christine. 2016 “‘Being on Both Sides’: The Ethnomusicologist between Official Institutions and Musicians.” In Applied Ethnomusicology in Institutional Policy and Practice, Klissala Harrison, ed. COLLeGIUM, Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 21: 62–81.

Parent, Marie-Christine. 2017 Le Moutya à l’Epreuve de la Modernité Seychelloise. Pratiquer un Genre Musical Emblématique dans les Seychelles d’Aujourd’hui (Océan Indien). PhD Dissertation: Université de Montréal, Canada and Université Côte d’Azur, France.

Parent, Marie-Christine. 2020 “Du Concept de ‘moutya otantik’ en tant que Patrimoine: Mémoires, Représentations et Construction de l’Authenticité d’une Pratique Musicale de Tradition Orale en Contexte Postolonial.” MUSICultures 47 : 189–212.

Samson, Guillaume. 1997 Le Séga à l’Île Rodrigues. MA Dissertation: Université de Nanterre, Paris X (Université Paris Nanterre), France.

Samson, Guillaume. 2001 “Clivage Social et Appropriation Musicale à l’île Rodrigues. Le Cas du Ségakordéon.” Cahiers d’ethnomusicologie 13: 163–178.

Samson, Guillaume. 2006 Musique et Identité à La Réunion: Généalogie des Constructions d’une Singularité Insulaire. PhD Dissertation: Université de Montréal, Canada.

Samson, Guillaume. 2008 “Histoire d’une Sédimentation Musicale.” In L’Univers du Maloya. Histoire, Ethnographie, Littérature, Guilaume Samson, Benjamin Lagarde and Carpanin Marimoutou, eds. 9–88. Sainte-Clothilde: Éditions de la Dynamique de Recherche en Ethnomusicologie del’Océan Indien.

Samson, Guillaume. 2013 “Transculturations Musicales et Dynamiques Identitaires: Trois Cas d’Etude Réunionnais.” L’Homme 3 (207–208): 215–235.

Servan-Schreiber, Catherine. 2010 Histoire d’une Musique Métisse à l’Île Maurice: Chutney Indien et Séga Bollywood. Paris: Riveneuve éditions.

Shelemay, Kay Kaufman. 2006 “Music, Memory and History.” Ethnomusicology Forum 15 (1): 7–37.

Internet
Boyer, Florence. n.d. La Danse comme Marqueur Identitaire à la Réunion et aux Antilles. Danses sans visa. http://fresques.ina.fr/danses-sans-visa/parcours/0009/ladanse-comme-marqueur-identitaire-a-la-reunion-et-aux-antilles.html

Interviews by Author
Barbe, Rona. Mont-Buxton, Mahé, Seychelles, 20 February 2013.
Choppy, Penda. Anse-aux-Pins, Mahé, Seychelles, 16 February 2011.
Rose, Christopher. Mare-Anglaise, Mahé, Seychelles, 16 February 2014.
Salomon, Norbert. Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles, 26 January 2012.
Valentin, Keven. Mare-Anglaise, Mahé, Seychelles, 5 February 2014.
Published
2020-12-01
How to Cite