Nostalgie Caraïbes Volume One

Les maîtres du Gwo Ka, vol. 1
Nostalgie Caraïbes

Versions Originales enregistrées au Studio Celini


01. Robertine - Germain Calixte - 3:13
02. En tamarin tini de gade mobile - Robert Loyson - 2:53
03. Do re mi fa sol la si do - Taret Turgot - 2:56
04. Evariste - Loulou Boislaville - 2:46
05. Crab ka declare - Yvon Anzala - 6:06
06. Messie mesdames bien bonsoue - Le Cercle Culturel Ansois - 2:54
07. Clocote la - Germain Calixte - 3:08
08. Vieille africain - Gerard Nerplat - 4:43
09. La jeunesse en alpha - Germain Calixte - 2:57
10. Si papa mo - Robert Loyson - 3:42
11. An di pè et di fils - Valcou Gene - 2:21
12. Sinegale mechant a si quai la - Taret Turgot - 2:43
13. La femme et la musique - Yvon Anzala - 3:16
14. Victo et Florelle - Antoine Sopta - 19:09



 Gwo ka (Big drum) is both a family of hand drums and the music created with them, which is a major part of Guadeloupean folk music. There are seven rhythms in gwo ka, which are embellished by the drummers. Different sizes of drums establish the foundation and its flourishes, with the largest, the boula, playing the central rhythm and the smaller, markeur (or maké) drums embellishes upon it and interplays with the dancers, audience or singer. Gwo ka singing is usually guttural, nasal and rough, though it can also be bright and smooth, and is accompanied by uplifting and complex harmonies and melodies. There are also dances that tell folk stories that are accompanied by the gwo ka drums.

Rural Guadeloupans still use gwo ka drums in communal experiences called lewozes; this is the most traditional manifestation of gwo ka in modern Guadeloupe. Gwo ka is also played at Carnival and other celebrations. A modernized and popularized form of gwo ka is well-known on the islands; it is known as gwo ka moderne.

Gwo ka is the French creole term for Big drum.


The origin of Gwo Ka goes back to the period of enslavement in the 18th century. Musical research show that the instrument can find its roots in the drums and songs of the West African countries (Guinea gulf, Congo...). From the diverse music and dance of their homelands, the slaves elaborated a communication tool, a new form of art, like the creole language: the Gwo Ka. This musical genre is characterised by an African typology: - repetitive form - improvisation - physical movements linked to music - a response between a soloist and choir - a syncopation weak times Gwo-ka, is a quadruple entity: dance, music, instrument, song...

Gwoka is found among all ethnic and religious groups of Guadeloupean society. It combines responsorial singing in Guadeloupean Creole, rhythms played on the Ka drums and dancing. In its traditional form, Gwoka unites these three areas of expression and emphasizes individual qualities of improvisation. The participants and public form a circle in which dancers and soloists enter in turn and perform, facing the drums. The public claps and takes up the chorus from the soloist. Several thousand people regularly practise Gwoka at open-air Gwoka evenings, where the dance circle functions as a place to develop individual talents. Transmission of the practice and Ka drum-making skills is both informal through families and groups of friends, but also increasingly through formal workshops and schools of traditional dance and music. Gwoka is one of the most identifiable elements of Guadeloupean society and its contemporary expressions explore new avenues of music, choreography or singing. It is present at the high points of daily life, as well as at festive, cultural and secular events. It also accompanies movements of social and political protest. It strengthens identity and provides a feeling of communal development and individual pride, conveying values of conviviality, resistance and dignity.

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