Haiti might be known as one of the poorest countries in the world, but its history and its
culture are rich. Haiti is a French Country, and its primary language is French. In the late
1700’s the Haitian mixed peoples, wanted the same rights, respect and privileges as White
Haitians. They felt that they deserve to be treated the same, as they were descendants of white’s.
This started the Haitian revolution, and in 1804 Haiti had achieved the status of the first freed
slave country.Just as they have a rich history, they have manage to maintain a rich and diverse
culture through 5 different genres of Haitian music: RaRa, Mizik Rasin, Meringue, Kompa
(Compa), and Candence Rampa. It is also important to note that Haitian music derives from
voodoo ceremonial traditions and is mostly influenced by African migration through slavery.
It’s a key product of Haiti’s history and culture.
Cadence rampa is more Cuban-influenced and spread throughout the Caribbean islands of
Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica. It is a modern Haitianmusic that became known by a
popular saxophone player Webert Sicot in the early 60s. Cadence rampa is also referred to as
kandans. It was created to counter the genre Kompa’s, which is the national music genre of Haiti
that people dance and sing to. Candence rampa was to be “danced like a sweeping of the floor
with one’s feet or as if one slid the feet back and forth on the floor. The rest of the body swung
from side to side exactly the same as for dancing Kompas-direk.” (2013). So what is this Kompa
that the people speak of?
Kompa was created in 1955 by Nemours Jean-Baptiste, and is sang in Haitian Creole
(Aropede@). Kompa music is basically the pop style of our music American music. It is slower
and flows smoothly, and has a nice meringue, R&B jazz sound to it. This genre of music has a
very positive influence, in that it allows free expression of emotion.
Haitian Méringue is extremely similar to the reggae that is heard in the Caribbeans. The
cultural blend of African and European cultures has created popular dance music. The music is
played on simple versions of acoustic. Like Jamaican mento, Cuban son, Belizean brukdon,
Dominican merengue and many other Caribbean styles, méringue is played by artists who are
usually anonymous and, although their music is very much alive, they tend to be called
"traditional". The music creates a street party where couples dance belt-buckle to belt-buckle to
an addictive rhythm that they recognize as their own. This music is the roots of the sound
produced by Haiti's international stars.
Rara, is a style of music perform throughout street processions. It is center on a set of
cylindrical bamboo trumpets (vaksen). Rara is perform between Ash Wednesday and Easter,
making it a religious genre of Haitian music, but it can also be used for political purposes, such
as praising candidates and their campaigns, which would make it a political influence as well
(2008). The lyrics of this style of music are about political oppression, or poverty (2008). Rara
musicians are often banned from performing this style of music, or forced into exile. It can be
negative, in that it brings about political control, but positive in a way that can get the countries
issues out to the rest of the world.
Rasin was a musical movement that began in Haiti in 1987 when Haitian musicians
combined elements of the traditional Haitian voduo ceremonial music with rock and roll. The
movement had a major impact on the youth culture throughout the rural areas of Haiti. It is a
modern style of music that comes from the roots of voodoo tradition which came to be called
mizik rasin (“roots music”)(McDonald).It is upbeat and meant for dancing. Most Misik rasin
lyrics can be translated into traditional voodoo themes, prayers to the Gods, and social or
political commentary (McDonald). Mizik Rasin isn’t as popular as it was in the 1980’s but it has
greatly influenced Haitian reggae and rock music.
Kadans is a modern HaitianMéringue made popular by a sax player known as Webert
Sicot in 1962. (2012). It got it’s name “Kadans” when Sicot left Kompas music group and
created his own band. He called his music “cadence” because he wanted his music to have a
different name from Kompas music. Kadans music brought together the former French colonies
of the Caribbean. The music helped them combine their cultural influences. “Cadence music is
characterized by a constant up tempo rhythm, hence the name cadence. Its percussive aspect
come from the drum, an accentuated use of cymbals and, to a lesser extent, the high hat plus a
distinct beat of the cowbell, tok, to-tok, tok-tok-tok, and conga drum beating a dash of méringue”
“Compas: Music.” The Full Wiki. 2013. Web. http://maps.thefullwiki.org/Compas_music
“Kadans.” Dictionary SensAgent. 2012. Web. http://dictionary.sensagent.com/Kadans/en-en/
“Kompa (Compa, Konpa) Music.” Afropede@. Web.
Mcdonald, Heather. “Haitian Music History.” Lovetoknow Music. Web.
Taylor, Somer. “Traditional Haitian Music Information.” eHow. 2008.