South Florida Folklife Center. Caribbean Percussion Traditions in Miami - 1996-1999

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South Florida Folklife Center. Caribbean Percussion Traditions in Miami - 1996-1999


  • 1996-1999 (Creation)


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This series documents a seminal field research project and exhibition on the percussion traditions practiced by Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, Trinidadians and Bahamians living in Miami. Traditions documented include Bahamian Junkanoo, Trinadadian Steel Pan and Tassa, Haitian Vodou Music, Indo-Caribbean Dholak ensembles, Jamaican Nyabingi, Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena, and Cuban Rumba and Batá. In the second half of the 20th century, Miami was transformed from a predominantly tourist-oriented southern city into an international metropolis in which more than one-third of the population is of Caribbean descent. One expression of this transformation was the proliferation of nightclubs and radio stations that feature Caribbean popular music styles, such as Salsa, Merengue, Reggae, Soca and Konpa. But Miami’s Caribbean musical heritage extended far beyond well-known, popular styles. In more secluded settings and at special festive occasions in Caribbean neighborhoods, the sounds of an immense variety of drums and other percussion instruments constituted complex musical languages which, though often immediately appealing to outsiders, require years to fully learn and understand. In many cases, these musical languages are interrelated with systems of religious or philosophical knowledge. Researchers Steve Stuempfle, Joanne Hyppolite, Alberto de la Reguera, and Dawn Batson spent approximately one year conducting fieldwork beginning in March 1996. Partial funding came from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources. The Historical Museum of Southern Florida (now HistoryMiami Museum) exhibition of the project was on display May 21-October 26, 1997 and accompanied by educational programming, several publications, demonstrations in the museum, seminars and performances at the Museum and North Miami Beach Performing Arts Theater, and a compact disc (CD) recording. Materials include: documents related to project planning and grants, including field work notes, applications, letters of support, reports, memoranda, inventories, budgets, scripts, exhibition labels, promotional materials, and ephemera; recording logs and permission forms; copies of the CD; press clippings; 35mm photographic slides; audiocassette tape recordings of interviews (in English, Spanish, and Kreyol) and musical performances with attendant notes; and videocassette tape recordings of instrument-making and both public and private ritual performances.

Additional digital formats of audio and image files available: Records were digitized 2015 – 2016. Users must contact staff ahead of visit for access.

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Arranged into four series by format.

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Digital materials available on Folklife Archive external drive.

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Archivist's note

Finding Aid Authors: Katherine L. Fleming, David Font, Vanessa Navarro, and Katharine Labuda 2014-2016.

Archivist's note

© Copyright 2019 HistoryMiami Archives & Research Center. All rights reserved.

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