Music of Hindu Trinidad: Songs from the India Diaspora

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Like many other small towns in Trinidad, Felicity is populated almost entirely by East Indians. In their Caribbean exile, the residents of Felicity have created and recreated the music of their Hindu ancestors. Music of Hindu Trinidad is a fascinating account of the history and cultural significance of Hindu music that explores its symbolic, aesthetic, and psychological aspects while asking the larger question of how this music has contributed to the formation of identity in the midst of their great diaspora.

Myers details the musical repertory of Felicity, which is based largely on north Indian genres including the traditional Bhojpuri folk songs and drumming styles brought by the first indentured laborers in 1845. In her engaging exploration of the fate of Indian classical music and new popular styles such as Hindi calypso, soca, and chutney, she even finds herself at the ancestral home of Trinidadian V. S. Naipaul in India. Copiously illustrated and accompanied by a compact disk, Music of Hindu Trinidad is a model ethnographic study.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
An ethnomusicological study with heart, this loving history and portrait of the people and musical culture of the town of Felicity, an East Indian enclave in Trinidad, is scholarly, personal, packed with information about music that 19th-century North Indians brought to the promised sugarcane land of the British West Indies, and affirmative of the process of change. Myers coauthor of Indian Games and Dances with Native Songs, Univ. of Nebraska, 1994 sojourns in both Felicity and India and documents Felicity's "vitality of traditions in flux." To perform this music, Hindus in English-speaking Trinidad must sing in foreign languages and so must learn wedding songs, religious songs, love songs, etc., by rote, which Myers describes not as anti-intellectual but as "the bedrock of culture." A serious and, indeed, felicitous study; recommended for large music collections.--Bonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Lib., Silver Spring
Hindu calypso? Ethnomusicologist Myers (Connecticut State U.) sought our East Indian music in the exile community of Felicity, Trinidad and found classical as well as popular new styles. She explores this music's's historical-cultural significance as well as its identity maintenance role. Includes 35 musical examples; a glossary, biographical dictionary, and gazetteer; description of selections on the CD; Bhojpur-I texts in Devanagari script; a discography; and 50 b&w illustrations. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226554518
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Series: Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 542
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Musical Examples
A Note on Translations and Transcriptions
Romanization of Indian Languages
The Narrators
1: East Indians of the West Indies
2: Roots
3: Felicity
4: A Day in the Village
5: The Seasons
6: Speaking of Music
7: Local Musicology
8: Wedding Day
9: Wedding Songs
10: A Song for Mr. Biswas
11: Song of Swans and Snakes
12: Songs of Love and Longing
13: The Ramayan Tradition
14: Morning at the Temple
15: Music and Miracles
16: The Death of Rani
17: Chutney
18: Sweet Memory
19: Passage to India
Glossary, Biographical Dictionary, and Gazetteer
Selections on the Compact Disc
Bhojpuri Texts in Devanagari Script
List of Songs by First Line

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