About the session: This session features a number of musical and performance styles, including cantique (French hymnody generally performed during crèche [Christmas] celebrations), bongo (music and dance accompanying a wake-house ritual), kalenda (dance modeled on the movements of a martial art), romances (narrative song form or ballad), and lullaby songs. Almost all of the songs are performed a cappella with alternating lead-chorus singing style. Chorus sections are performed in a rich heterophonic style sometimes verging on polyphony. Alan Lomax's notes: "Crèche—annual celebration among the hill people at Maraval—is in praise of the Holy Child about whom all the cantiques tell. Singers may sing from memory or use very old copies of Cantique books, until recently obtainable in Martinique. The older editions contained music as well as words. Cantique singing may be done as a pleasure at times other than Christmas when neighbours open their houses to travelling singers and musicians. The instrument used is sometimes the marac [sic]. For the 'break-up' of Christmas, January 6th, when all crèche singing stops, the gayer happier cantiques are sung."
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