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By Gage Averill

The heritage of Haiti through the 20th century has been marked by way of oppression by the hands of colonial and dictatorial overlords. yet set by contrast "day for the hunter" has been a "day for the prey," a background of resistance, and occasionally of triumph. With prepared cultural and ancient knowledge, Gage Averill indicates that Haiti's shiny and expressive tune has been some of the most hugely charged tools during this struggle—one within which energy, politics, and resistance are inextricably fused.

Averill explores such varied genres as Haitian jazz, troubadour traditions, Vodou-jazz, konpa, mini-djaz, new new release, and roots song. He examines the advanced interplay of song with strength in contexts corresponding to honorific rituals, backed highway celebrations, Carnival, and social hobbies that span the political spectrum.

With firsthand bills through musicians, photographs, track texts, and ethnographic descriptions, this booklet explores the profound manifestations of energy and music within the daily efforts of standard Haitians to upward thrust above political repression.

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Extra resources for A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey: Popular Music and Power in Haiti (Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology)

Sample text

Before discussing singers as social critics, I would like to look at Haitian attitudes about popular and commercial musicians in general. The profession of musician was belittled by the middle class, who saw musicians as tafyate-s (drunkards) and vakabon-s (vagabonds). For the Haitian middle class, which has always had upwardly mobile aspirations, a choice to pursue a musical career was tantamount to professional suicide and was strongly resisted by parents. The stories that musicians tell of family attitudes are often quite similar: “I have to tell you that in Haiti, being a musician was never something that families could accept socially; it was really bad.

It is sought, undermined, despised, ignored, resisted, and negotiated. In contrast to the term “power,” “politics” might best be viewed as the strategies and tactics for gaining, maintaining, and increasing power, especially (but not exclusively) in its more formal and public dimensions. With my emphasis on strategies, tactics, and intentional social prac- 2 Chapter One tice, it is clear that I believe that individuals and social groups can carve out for themselves a degree of what is often called “agency”that they are not entirely imprisoned in social, political, psychological, sociobiological, or historical structures.

As these movements incorporate Vodou, they variously strive to “ennoble” it, folklorize it, politicize it, or advocate it, but every one of these movements has deployed Vodou for its own purposes, and has reinterpreted Vodou in its own image. Motion, Emotion, and Commotion: Audiences and the Politics of Pleasure The powerful appeal of music-its engagement with human emotions-is the reason it serves effectively as an instrument of politics and a medium of power. Music creates strong associative memories and nostalgically evokes those memories.

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