Music of Mauritius - Styles and Influences of Island Music
Mauritius is home to exceptionally talented musicians, many of whom have evolved to international standards over the years. The traditional Mauritian music, Sega, is an integral part of the country’s folklore and culture. Let us take a look at the various types of music that is popular in Mauritius.
Traditional Mauritian Music
Sega is one of the most famous music and dance form of Mauritius. Other popular genres of this region include zouk, soukous and reggae. Sega, reggae and seggae styles of music are the most produced among Mauritian artists. Many jazz and blues artists also perform around the island. Recent years have seen artists evolving into hip hop, soul, club, dubstep, techno and R&B music forms as well. It is usually sung in their mother tongue, Creole. It is believed to be the musical expression of the Mauritian way of life - liveliness and joy. Sega requires traditional musical instruments such as a goat-skin covered drum, ravanne, maravanne and the triangle. The rural renditions of the sega music have resulted in kawals and Mauritian Bhojpuri songs.
History and Influence of Sega
The origin of sega is still vague. Many believe that this traditional dance and music form was born during the slavery era. It was sung by men and women who were being sold as slaves but whose souls remained sensitive to music. Sega has grown to become an integral part of the Mauritian folklore and culture. It is widely regarded to be a form of self-expression. UNESCO has also recognised Mauritian sega as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Mauritian Musical Instruments
The original, traditional instruments have been replaced by modern and more conventional ones like the electric guitar, bass and drums. The Ravanne, the triangle and the Maravanne are the primary instruments that are used for sega music. Different islands make their renditions of sega by adding various tools, but these three remain the heartbeat of traditional sega music. These three necessary instruments lend the tempo and lead the dance, all while maintaining the melody.
Musical Influences on Mauritius
1. Bhojpuri Influence
Indian immigrants are said to have brought along instruments like tabla and sitar, which led to its style of dance and music. Mauritian-based Bhojpuri music is trendy among people of Indian-descent. It has recently started to gain mainstream appeal, owing to the likes of The Bhojpuri Boys. The fusion of the traditional sega beats with Indian Bollywood-style music has appealed to many. Geet Gawai is a pre-wedding ceremony that combines prayers, music and dance. It is a tradition followed by the Bhojpuri community in Mauritius. The music often includes popular Bhojpuri folk songs.
2. Western Influence
Western music has also considerably influenced the Mauritian culture. Mainstream music, especially of the rock genre, is prevalent in this country. There is a massive following for artists from the ’60s and ’70s like Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley.
Popular Mauritian Artists and Music Ambassadors
Some of the famous traditional sega singers from Mauritius are Ti Frere, Marlene Ravaton, Serge Lebrasse and Fanfan. Ti Frere was crowned the ‘King of Sega’, an illiterate musical genius. Despite his popularity, he lived in utmost poverty. Farfan is a famous storyteller, composer and poet. He has been nicknamed the ‘griot of Mauritius’. He is one of the last Mauritian singers to have kept the traditional sega ravanne alive. The most widely known Mauritian sega artists are Desire Francois, Alain Ramanisum and Ziakazom. Zulu and The Prophecy are two other top Mauritian artists.
You can be sure to experience a wide range of music, while in Mauritius. The traditional music, Sega, beautifully expresses the joy and liveliness of the Mauritian way of life. Over the years, Mauritian music has been influenced by various sources and people of varied descents. It is evolving to international standards and is fast gaining widespread appeal.