COUNTRY: Martinique, Guadeloupe

Martinique’s music takes French colonial musical structures, adds African rhythms and throws in a touch of East Indian zest for good measure. The island’s most internationally known style is ZOUK which is an energetic, highly danceable blend of all the above. ZOUK started in the 1960s as Caribbean dancehall music but has since become more musically complex, adding sounds from other Martinican styles such as beguine, and kadans. Beginue is a musical style (and dance) that’s “a reference genre”- a Caribbean take on the dances and melodies of early French settlers. Kadans was also a mix of French and Afro-Caribbean styles, but its balance tilted toward African spirit and rhythms. Kadans became popular in Haiti the ’70s and took Martinique by storm, inspiring Martinicans to explore and embrace their creole identity. There are many styles of ZOUK dancing, but the traditional Caribbean ZOUK features two steps that go along with the music: 1-2, 1-2. In Brazilian ZOUK there are three steps: 1-3-4, 1-3-4…

More information:
Music of Martinique: “Between Local and Global” (for more about kadans, scroll down to 4.2) | More about the beguine | National Geographic on ZOUK | The history of Zouk | Tracing Zouk to its Dominican roots | Heritage Institute’s Zouk overview, including an introduction to several ZOUK dance styles

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