Music in Culture

What gives a country its identity? What defines culture? Is it food? People? Fashion? Art? Tradition? Religion?…..I guess all of those to some extent, and many more. But one of the most important and central aspects to any culture has to be music.

Whether it’s Brazilian Samba, British Rock ’N’ Roll, or Jamaican Reggae, each country has its own sound. Of course there are the generic sounds which you can find anywhere, Pop music for example – listening to NRJ here is not so different to listening to any UK popular Radio station, it’s music for the masses. But dig a little deeper and normally you will find a sound which represents the people and their story. 

Here in Reunion, we have a very diverse population and as a result the culture has influences from all over the world. The music we most often associate with Reunion is Maloya and Sega. They have their roots in Africa, and the slaves who were so important in the island’s history created these 2 sounds with a mix of traditional African beats and added European influences and instruments. At a time when the slaves didn’t necessarily have a common language, they communicated with music. That is the beauty, it’s a language that everybody can communicate in, it breaks down barriers, brings people together with song and dance. 

The island continues to have a huge music culture. You can find almost any style here and the ‘Fete de la Musique’ on the 21st of June is one of the biggest events of the year in many towns, where free concerts are organised, and temporary stages are setup for concerts that often continue into the early hours. Music continues to bring people together, as it historically did. 

I have a pretty broad taste in music and have been to many different events on the island. I’ve heard styles as varied as ska, techno, & gospel and even experienced a ‘kabar’. The kabar was a fantastic event, around 1,000 people of all ages and backgrounds descended into Mafate, danced under the full moon in front of a makeshift stage to maloya, rock and electronic music for an entire weekend. It was a real festival atmosphere, friendly and welcoming. At the other end of the scale, we have bigger festivals and events such as Sakifo, Les Electropicales, KabarDock, Manapany and Tempo to name a few. Often they combine a mix of local talent and international acts to great effect. This allows the people on the island to enjoy world music, but also helps to retain and even promote the styles which were born and evolved here. 

So whether you want to try your hand at the kayamb, dance along to some Tango, or enjoy a sunset cocktail with an Ibiza style soundtrack, you can find it all here on our wonderful island.


to some extent – dans une certaine mesure
dig – creuser / aller un peu plus loin
roots – racines
breaks down barriers – briser les barrières
huge – très grande

stages – scènes
broad taste – un gout varié
makeshift – improvisé
at the other end of the scale – dans l’autre coté
retain – retenir

soundtrack – un fond sonore

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