Traditional Music and Dance

Music

Songs were used for ceremonies to appease spirits, both good and bad. For instance, the Tawouana tamourou song was for a bad spirit, the grand father vulture – a pyai man song. A good spirit song is the Touki song for warriors. Songs were also made for celebrations, to tell stories about survivals and successes.

Traditional musical instruments were used in ceremonies and to communicate with the spirits. The instruments were made mainly from local raw materials found in the environment.

InstrumentSource of Material
Drums Goat Skin
Maracas Calabash and seeds
Flute Bamboo stick
Stick Conch shell

Dance

Dances have played a vital part in the culture of the Kalinago people. Some dances depict different elements of nature, such as the rain dance, wind dance, eclipse dance and moon dance. Many of the dances, such as the bird dance, would imitate animal movements. There were also dances which depicted the Kalinago way of life, such as cassava grating, fishing and hunting. In addition, dances were made for special purposes, such as the inauguration of a chief.

DancesPurposes
Bird dance Hunting (bird movements in flight)
Snake dance Ceremonial for guardian spirit (snake movements)
Sisserou dance Celebration (Sisserou movements in flight)
Moon dance Ceremonial (different phases of the moon)
Eclipse dance Ceremonial (appearing of spirits)
Marie Marie dance Ceremonial (wedding)
Cassava grating dance Stages of cassava preparation
Harvest dance Stages of any crop production
War dance Ceremonial (preparation for war)
Bow and Arrow dance Ceremonial (preparation for war)
Marouka dance Dream dance
Shack Shack dance Celebration (the use of Maracas a musical instrument)
Fan dance Celebration (the use of fans made from the Larouma reed)
Kala kala dance Celebration (the use of calabash)
Fishing dance The demonstration of fishing movements

Article by Gerard Langlais