Seychelles’ folk music incorporates many different influences. Its history of French and British colonization along with immigrants from India, the Arab states, and mainland Africa all play into their musical storytelling. European styles like the mazurka, polka, and contredance, sega music from Réunion and Mauritius, and several ubiquitous African styles like zouk, taarab, soukous moutye play an integral part in their musical styles. Add in various Polynesian, Indian, and Mediterranean styles, and you get a unique array of musical sounds.
In many cases, two or more of these styles merged to create something new. Kanmtole, a type of complex percussion rhythms is commonly used. Reggae is a common musical style in Africa and African diaspora and has mixed with other styles. For example, sega and reggae became seggae, while reggae and moutya became mouggae. Mainly the lyrics are sung in Creole, French, English, or some combination of these languages.
At festivals throughout the year, moutya and kontredans (their version of the English contredanse) are so popular that there are competitions. The annual Festival Kreol is one of the biggest festivals held in Seychelles. Both of these along with Kanmtole are dances that have been danced in Seychelles for centuries.
As far as traditional instruments go, there are a few that are incorporated into Seychellois music: makalapo (a wooden pole based in a can, with strings attached to the pole), bonm (calabash with one string), zez (similar to a bonm except with a resonator), tambour moutya (a wooden flat drum with a cow or goat skin for the drum head), and the mouloumba (a type of bamboo drum). Many of today’s songs use modern instruments like the violin, guitar, accordion, banjo, drums, and other percussion instruments like the triangle.
I wasn’t able to find as many Seychellois musicians as I thought I was going to. Jean-Marc Volcy was one of the main ones mentioned that I found – but I only found one song by him on Spotify. I could definitely hear some of the instruments represented above.
However, I did find some other musicians mentioned in the Suggested section on Spotify. One was a beach chillout compilation with various artists on the album. I was kind of into this one. There were several songs on there that I liked. Because sometimes you just need to chill.
I also found some music from Sonny Morgan. Although he now lives in Australia, his music is quite reflective of his Seychellois heritage. He brings a certain Indian Ocean flair to his music which integrates blues and other styles into his sega/reggae sound.
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