Portugal’s Influence on American Blues By Way Of The Slave Trade In The Caribbean

John Dee Holeman II

African-american blues musician, John Dee Holeman, laughs as he plays his guitar in front of his home in Durham, North Carolina

Blues has evolved from the unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves imported from West Africa and rural blacks into a wide variety of styles and subgenres, with regional variations across the United States.

American slaves, for the most part, came from the Caribbean.  They were brought there by Portuguese traders.

The Portuguese in the Caribbean

The Portuguese over the centuries for several reasons settled in the West Indies and, as such, contributed to the history of the region in one way or another. The Portuguese have been part of the life, economy and social culture of the Caribbean since the 15th century.

History has it that the first Portuguese to set foot in the West Indies were the sailors on board Christopher Columbus’ three ships—the Santa María, the Pinta and the Nina—which landed on the small island of San Salvador (or Guanahani) in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. Columbus learnt to become a skilled sailor and map-maker in Portugal, the most important seafaring country in Europe at that time. There he met many experienced sailors, some of whom accompanied him on his maiden voyage to the New World, although he was at the time at the service of the Spanish Crown and not at Portugal’s service.  Since the days of Columbus, the Portuguese have emigrated over the centuries in large numbers to the Caribbean for a variety of reasons

Portuguese Empire 17th century

In 1492 Columbus discovered the West Indies. Since the new lands were south of the Canaries the Portuguese king claimed they were his. However the argument with the Spanish was ended by the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. Portugal and Spain agreed that all new land west of a line 370 degrees west of the Cape Verde Islands would belong to Spain. Any land east of the line belonged to Portugal.

Following the treaty in 1498 an expedition led by Vasco da Gama sailed around Africa and reached India. Asia was the source of spices, which were very expensive in Europe. At first the Portuguese dominated the spice trade. In 1510 the Portuguese annexed Goa in India. In 1511 they took Malacca in Indonesia. In 1514 they reached China and in 1557 they established a trading post at Macao. The Portuguese also colonised Brazil in South America.

In 1576 King Sebastiao led an expedition to Morocco which ended in complete disaster. Thousands of Portuguese were killed including the king and most of the nobility. Sebastiao was succeeded by Henrique, who died childless. Afterwards King Philip II of Spain claimed the throne of Portugal on the grounds that he was King Sebastiao’s nephew. The Spaniards won the battle of Alcantara and Philip II of Spain became Philip I of Portugal.

From then until 1640 Spain and Portugal shared a monarch. However the union grew gradually less and less popular. In 1640 Portuguese nobles staged a coup in Lisbon. They deposed the governor of Portugal. The Duke of Braganza was made King Joao IV. Spain did not recognize Portuguese independence until 1668 when the treaty of Lisbon was signed.

Meanwhile Portugal was declining in the 17th century. In 1600 the Portuguese dominated the spice trade with Asia. However in the 17th century they lost their position to the Dutch. In the late 17th century gold was discovered in Brazil. In 1730 diamonds were discovered there. Taxes on both helped the Portuguese treasury.

In the 1720s, a pirate known as James made port at Oporto in Portugal.[1] In the 1730s, Portuguese slave ships were allowed to make port in the pirate port of Libertalia, thanks to the deal of the Portuguese slave traders with the corrupt Pirate Lord of the Atlantic Ocean, King Samuel.

The Caribbean Slaves

Portuguese traders brought Africans from points in West Africa to Europe and the Caribbean, where they were sold at auction.  These voyages lasted anywhere from 5-10 months.  The slaves were introduced to Portuguese culture on these voyages.

The slaves had children of their own that were sold as slaves to plantation owners in the new American South.  Of course they brought their music with them. 

The Lesser Antilles islands of Barbados, St. Kitts, Antigua, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia and Dominica were the first important slave societies of the Caribbean, switching to slavery by the end of the 17th century as their economies converted from tobacco to sugar production.

By the middle of the 18th century, British Jamaica and French Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) had become the largest slave societies of the region, rivaling Brazil as a destination for enslaved Africans.

What is Saudades?

Portuguese “Saudades” is the expression the Portuguese use to describe the soulful feelings incorporated in Fado.  Like the American Blues, the Fado form is AAB.  Traditionally, a woman sings a soulful song about lost “saudades” but she’s accompanied by a guitar player or two.  The traditional Portuguese guitar is a 12 string guitar.

Fado (fate in Portuguese) is a musical style, which arose in Lisbon as the music of the urban poor. Fado songs are typically lyrically harsh, accompanied by a wire-strung acoustic guitar or the Portuguese Guitar. It is usually sung by solo performers, with the singer resigned to sadness, poverty and loneliness, but remaining dignified and firmly controlled. In 2011, Fado was inscribed on Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. It is claimed that fado origins are older, going back to the 15th century, when women cried with longing for their husbands that sailed to the never ending seas.

Amalia Rodriquez “Queen of the Fado”

In Late in the 19th century, the city of Coimbra developed a distinctive scene. Coimbra, a literary capital for the country, is now known for being more refined and majestic. The sound has been described as “the song of those who retain and cherish their illusions, not of those who have irretrievably lost them” by Rodney Gallop in 1936. A related form are the guitarradas of the 1920s and 30s, best known for Dr. Antonio Menano and a group of virtuoso musicians he formed, including Artur Paredes and José Joaquim Cavalheiro. Student fado, performed by students at Coimbra University, have maintained a tradition since it was pioneered in the 1890s by Augusto Hilário.

Starting in 1939 with the career of Amália Rodrigues, fado was an internationally popular genre. A singer and film actress, Rodrigues made numerous stylistic innovations that have made her probably the most influential fadista of all time.

Slave Trade In America

Most American slaves did come from Africa. The majority of slaves who were brought to North America came from West Africa. They were captured and sold to slave traders. They were forced onto ships for the long journey to America. This journey is often called the “middle passage.”

Large crowds of people gathered at auction platforms in the middle of town to look at the new slaves

A large number of slaves who were born in Africa did not come directly to the English colonies or, later, the United States. Many people first spent some time on islands in the Caribbean before being brought here. Owners often purchased slaves from different parts of Africa. Because they spoke different languages, they could not communicate well with each other. This made it easier for the owners to control them.

In 1807, the United States Congress outlawed the foreign slave trade. The law prohibited importing any more people from Africa or the Caribbean. That would mean that, in the future, all slaves would be native born. However, the law was not well enforced, and some slaves continued to be captured and brought here directly from Africa and from islands in the Caribbean.

The American Blues

Blues is a genre and musical form that originated in African-American communities in the “Deep South” of the United States around the end of the 19th century. The genre is a fusion of traditional African music and European folk music, spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. The blue notes are also an important part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect called a groove.

Robert Johnson, an influential Delta blues musician

Blues as a genre possesses other characteristics such as lyrics, bass lines, and instruments. The lyrics of early traditional blues verses consisted of a single line repeated four times. It was only in the first decades of the 20th century that the most common current structure became standard: the so-called AAB pattern, consisting of a line sung over the four first bars, its repetition over the next four, and then a longer concluding line over the last bars. Early blues frequently took the form of a loose narrative, often relating troubles experienced within African American society.

Many blues elements, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa. The origins of the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spirituals. The first appearance of the blues is often dated to after emancipation and, later, the development of juke joints. It is associated with the newly acquired freedom of the former slaves. Chroniclers began to report about blues music at the dawn of the 20th century. The first publication of blues sheet music was in 1908. Blues has since evolved from unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves into a wide variety of styles and subgenres. Blues subgenres include country blues, such as Delta and Piedmont, as well as urban blues styles such as Chicago and West Coast blues. World War II marked the transition from acoustic to electric blues and the progressive opening of blues music to a wider audience, especially white listeners. In the 1960s and 1970s, a hybrid form called blues rock evolved.

Origins of the blues

The first publication of blues sheet music was in 1908: Antonio Maggio’s “I Got the Blues” is the first published song to use the word blues. Hart Wand’s “Dallas Blues” followed in 1912; W. C. Handy’s “The Memphis Blues” followed in the same year. The first recording by an African American singer was Mamie Smith’s 1920 rendition of Perry Bradford’s “Crazy Blues”. But the origins of the blues date back to some decades earlier, probably around 1890. They are very poorly documented, due in part to racial discrimination within US society, including academic circles, and to the low literacy of rural African American community at the time.

There are few characteristics common to all blues music, because the genre took its shape from the idiosyncrasies of individual performances. However, there are some characteristics that were present long before the creation of the modern blues. Call-and-response shouts were an early form of blues-like music; they were a “functional expression … style without accompaniment or harmony and unbounded by the formality of any particular musical structure.” A form of this pre-blues was heard in slave ring shouts and field hollers, expanded into “simple solo songs laden with emotional content”.

Blues has evolved from the unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves imported from West Africa and rural blacks into a wide variety of styles and subgenres, with regional variations across the United States. Although blues (as it is now known) can be seen as a musical style based on both European harmonic structure and the African call-and-response tradition that transformed into an interplay of voice and guitar, the blues form itself bears no resemblance to the melodic styles of the West African griots, and the influences are faint and tenuous.Additionally, there are theories that the four-beats-per-measure structure of the blues might have its origins in the Native American tradition of pow wow drumming.

In particular, no specific African musical form can be identified as the single direct ancestor of the blues. However the call-and-response format can be traced back to the music of Africa. That blue notes pre-date their use in blues and have an African origin is attested by English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “A Negro Love Song”, from his The African Suite for Piano composed in 1898, which contains blue third and seventh notes.

Blues music also adopted elements from the “Ethiopian airs”, minstrel shows and Negro spirituals, including instrumental and harmonic accompaniment. The style also was closely related to ragtime, which developed at about the same time, though the blues better preserved “the original melodic patterns of African music.”

Charley Patton, one of the originators of the Delta blues style, playing with a pick or a bottleneck slide.

The musical forms and styles that are now considered the “blues” as well as modern “country music” arose in the same regions during the 19th century in the southern United States.

Recorded blues and country can be found from as far back as the 1920s, when the popular record industry developed and created marketing categories called “race music” and “hillbilly music” to sell music by blacks for blacks and by whites for whites, respectively. At the time, there was no clear musical division between “blues” and “country,” except for the ethnicity of the performer, and even that was sometimes documented incorrectly by record companies.

Win Over Your Coworkers During Meetings with These Mind Hacks

Instead of suffering through long, dull meetings with your supervisors and coworkers, you can turn those office table sessions into your very own psychological experiment.

Using the tricks below, you’ll be able to hack your verbal responses and physical movements to convince your fellow employees of just about anything. All it takes to manipulate their minds are a few gestures and words, and it can help you look better at work as well as keep that boring meeting from dragging on more than it has to.

1. Don’t Avoid the Question

Avoiding questions in front of your coworkers does nothing but damage. If you want to convince them of your greatness, look at them and answer quickly—and do so without a smattering of “ums,” “uhs,” and “likes” to prove your intelligence.

According to Psychology Today, reposing quickly and without any evident signs of intentional delay and without looking away will help you to appear more intelligent, even if your response isn’t the best or brightest. The worst thing you can do is to act like you didn’t hear your name being called on.

Image via Shutterstock

2. Make Your Points with Your Hands

Body language is powerful, when used correctly. When used randomly and without intent, it can seem silly and totally useless; but if you plan on making a point and hope to convince your coworkers of it, consider usingyour flattened palm.

If you want every point you make to be heard as a genuine and valid consideration, lay your palm flat against the desk or table, and curl your fingertips downward. This gesture is meant convey confidence, helping those around you to see that you mean business. There’s no weak, waffling hand business here, just a firm, steady line of power.

3. Go Ahead, Get Rude

Want to get ahead in the midst of office politics? Try being a total jerk rather than killing your coworkers with kindness. Being polite won’t do much for your power and perceived confidence among your fellow employees, but being rude can make you stronger.

When you see someone violating norms, rules, and traditions, you’re drawn to them—they’re seen as someone who’s willing to do anything to achieve success. Adopt that same behavior, that same mindset, and you, too, can win enemies and appear even more powerful in the boardroom.

Image via Shutterstock

4. Stop Apologizing for Everything

Another total jerk move is forgoing the art of the apology. That’s right—you need to stop telling everyone around you that you’re sorry for interrupting, sorry for misreading an email, sorry for any tiny misstep.

Apologizing is far too polite an action to take at work, and those who don’t apologize for anything actually get more accomplished. The more abrasive and rude you are—in settings that call for it, of course—the more you’ll earn, and the more you’ll be perceived as powerful within your very office.

5. Trick Your Coworkers’ Brains

Although you can’t quite perform magic tricks in the middle of a meeting to convince your coworkers that you have the best, most viable ideas or reasoning, you can conduct a bit of a mind trick by implanting memorieswithin your coworkers’ heads.

So if you want to convince others that you’re right, or that your ideas are agreeable, remind them of the day during which you shared your genius idea over lunch, or the multiple meetings prior at which you proposed the exact same idea (even though you didn’t). Give them a few suggestive details, and they’ll quickly fill in the blanks in an effort to “remember” your statements so they don’t appear out of the know.

Image via Shutterstock

6. Relieve Everyone’s Stress Quickly

If you want to win everyone over, what’s better than helping your staff and coworkers relieve their stress? After all, happy individuals are more likely to agree to what you propose, and are more open to new ideas. If your team is panicked or overwhelmed, teach them all to blow on their thumbs.

By sticking your thumb in your mouth and blowing really hard, you will stimulate the vagus nerve. This all-important nerve runs through the majority of your body, and with a change in temperature helps to alter the heartbeat and calm your stress. Use it at work, and you’ll find more allies than enemies.

Image via Shutterstock

7. Keep Your Voice Quiet

You know this old adage from your parents, your teachers, and other adults throughout your life: if you truly want to be heard, yelling or raising your voice won’t do you any good. Instead, it’s better to stay as quiet and calm as possible.

When you lower your voice and maintain an even tone, even in the face of an argument, those around you must also lower their own voices in order to hear what you’re saying. If you find yourself yelling, you’re losing the fight; instead, keep quiet, and you’ll attract even more attention than a loudmouthed yeller.

Image via Shutterstock

8. Watch Your Feet

Another easy way to hack your coworkers’ opinion is to carefully angle your feet whenever you’re attempting to draw them in your direction, and into your favor. In fact, the position of your feet can indicate who your friends are, and where your allegiances lie.

If someone’s feet are angled away from you, they don’t want to engage you; they’re only doing so because they’re attempting to be polite. If their toes are pointed towards you, though, they are welcoming you with something along the lines of open arms. Practice the same, and always point your feet towards coworkers; those around you will think they’re warmly welcomed.

Image via Shutterstock

9. Cut the Fake Smiles

You probably use your fake smile considerably more so than your actual, genuine smile—but this is a habit you’ll want to break. According to researchers, fake smiles are bad, and detrimental to the opinions of those around us.

Although fake smiles are meant to mask negative emotions, they actually do the opposite—they close our minds and our emotions off, leaving us in a cloud of negativity. When you put on a genuine smile, you inherently open yourself to positivity, to a new attitude, and to new possibilities in all that surrounds you. And, of course, smiles are infectious while fake smiles just feel creepy. If you want your coworkers to help you out more, and to be on your side, break out your real smile, and they’ll begin viewing projects from new angles without even realizing it.

Image via Shutterstock

10. Don’t Look Up

Finally, if you want to appear more commanding and more intelligent, stop looking to the sky for all of your answers. Although it’s incredibly tempting to gaze upward and roll your eyes away from your staring, overwhelming audience when answering questions and presenting information, Business Insider recommends avoiding these body language cues that signal incompetence.

Unfortunately, turning upward when you’re grasping for answers comes off as a dumb and unhelpful gesture. Look to the ceiling, and your coworkers will believe you’re actually searching for an answer anywhere you can find it. Instead, solidify their confidence in you by making eye contact no matter how nervous you are; this act makes the audience believe you’re staring right at them, even if you aren’t.

New England Fiddles – A 1984 Documentary

New England Fiddles presents seven of the finest traditional musicians as they play in their homes and at dances and contests, passing their styles to younger fiddlers, and commenting on their music.

Click here to watch the video

Featured are 

  1. Ron West (Yankee), 
  2. Paddy Cronin (Irish), 
  3. Ben Guillemette (Quebecois), 
  4. Wilfred Guillette (Quebecois), 
  5. Harold Luce (Yankee), 
  6. Gerry Robichaud (Maritime),
  7. Cape Breton style of Joe Cormier. 

The film was made in 1983 by John Bishop and folklorist Nicholas Hawes. 

New England Fiddles and its companion film New England Dances are part of a dvd release that includes an eight minute section of fiddle tunes by National Heritage Award winner Simon St. Pierre, eleven additional tunes from the out takes of New England Fiddles, and an interview with filmmaker John Bishop. John Bishop and Nick Hawes take us past the solemn facade of clambakes and town meetings into a lively world of all night dances, kitchen suppers, and local musicians who could have helped Daniel Webster play down the Devil. — Alan Lomax

5 Most Common Sales Objections And How To Overcome Them

What are the big 5 most common sales objections? I think everyone would agree it looks something like this:

1. Money/cost – If it is a matter of cost, meaning your price is too high, you then have to do some justifying. Remember too, people will actually pay more if they like you. So build that rapport and focus on the things that make you and your establishment stand out in the crowd. Know your competitors and don’t be afraid to discuss their shortcomings, but do so in a professional manner. You want your customers to view you as a consultant, not a salesperson. Then they value your opinion and information. Once you get there, no objection will keep them from buying from you!

2. Too busy – Your objective here is to acknowledge how these times can be difficult to budget but that your deal is so compelling that they simply cannot refuse. You have to make the process as easy as possible for them to take the product and you have to make the terms seem so good, that they really would kick themselves if they didn’t do it. So this is more of a strategy than any sort of verbal comeback.

3. Need to think about it – Your objective is to find a core reason for them wanting to leave without your product. What is it exactly that they want to think about? Don’t be a pest about it though, just keep it light.

4. Need to talk to 3rd party – your real objective is to determine if that 3rd party really has that much influence on your sale. If they do, then get them on the phone and talk with them yourself.

5. Just Looking/not serious – The key is to keep them talking, because as long as they are, they are in the buying cycle!

Good luck and feel free to PM me if you have any questions!

2 Questions Every Sales Rep Should Ask Themselves Before Picking Up the Phone

When sales reps are prospecting, they often get wrapped up in their inner dialogue:

  • How should I phrase my value proposition to get it just right?
  • Is my elevator pitch up-to-date?

  • What objections am I likely to hear, and how will I handle them?
  • How am I going to build rapport with this contact?

In sales, it’s never a good idea to get too deep into your own head, but it’s particularly dangerous when prospecting. By obsessing over what they’re going to say and how they’re going to say it, sales reps often forget that the entire focus of a sales call is on the buyer — not the seller.

To bring the focus back where it belongs, I advise reps to ask themselves the following two questions before they pick up the phone:

  1. Why you?
  2. Why you now?

These questions might seem simple, but they hold the potential to dramatically change your prospecting approach — and results.

Let’s dissect the first question. Another way of thinking about “Why you?” is “Why are you reaching out to this particular person as opposed to somebody (anybody) else in the organization?” If you don’t have a compelling reason, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

And to be clear, the fact that the contact has a certain title does not qualify as a compelling reason. Behavior that indicates the person might be interested in your product or service does. (If you’re not following your prospects on social media, it’s time to start.)

The second question has to do with timing. Why are you calling this particular person now — as opposed to last week, next month, or any other time?

The fact that you prefer to do your prospecting on Tuesdays is not a good reason. A trigger event that just happened in the prospect’s world that creates a need for your product or service is. (Never used Google Alerts? Never a better time to set them up.)

The one idea I always try to impart to sales reps seeking to improve their prospecting skills is that above all else, people want to be heard. Buyers aren’t dumb. They know when they’re just a name on your list. By researching prospects thoroughly before you reach out to them and making sure you have a dynamite answer to both of the questions above, you make it clear that you’re interested in them as a person and what they have to say. And that’s what good selling is all about.

Tune Into Your Customers Buying Process 

Published October 31, 2014 | By Rene Zamora 

We’ve all been in those situations when a salesperson is trying to build your interest after you’ve already decided to buy. If the salesperson would just stop talking you could place the order. Then there’s the times when you’re not ready to consider buying and you’re being asked when you would like delivery. In either case, the salesperson is not recognizing which stage of the buying process you’re in and is actually working against the sale. Staying in tune with your customer is key to having an enjoyable and more often than not successful selling conversation. As a salesperson, it’s easy to believe you don’t market since that’s for another department; but you do. How aware are you of when you’re marketing or when your selling? It’s important to know because selling should never happen until a buyer is qualified and is serious about making a buying decision. Marketing is focused on generating interest in your product or service, and selling is helping someone who’s already interested make a purchasing decision. 

If you’ve read any of my blogs you know I believe selling is simply helping people make purchasing decisions.  Marketing on the other hand, is about looking for people who want to know more or would like to consider making a buying decision. Three Stages of a Buying Process If you want to stay in tune, you need to know what stage the buyer is in with their buying process. We as salespeople have a selling process and every buyer has a buying process. I see the buying process being broken down into three stages. 

Of course, there could be sub stages for more complex sales, but in general most of us work through a buying process this way: 

  1. Interest – Our curiosity is peaked and we want to learn more. 
  2. Consideration – We begin contemplating or qualifying if we should invest the time to make a decision. 
  3. Decision – We begin the decision-making process of making a purchase or not. 

When you tailor your conversations around these three stages appropriately, your buyers will enjoy your selling process and won’t feel like they’re being sold at. Why is this important? When people enjoy your selling process you will more likely than not be referred to others. Think back to the opening paragraph describing times when a seller was out of step with your buying mindset. We still might buy, but it’s not what we call a great experience. On the other hand, when a seller is right there with you, understanding where your mindset is, they become a help rather than a hindrance, and that’s a pleasant experience. That’s the type of experience we enjoy referring our friends and colleagues into. 

Dos and Don’ts in each stage

The first step in staying in tune with your customer is realizing which stage they’re in. The second is knowing what to do and what not do in each of these stages. Below are a list of dos and don’ts for each buying stage. Use the list as a self-assessment or to help you strategize upcoming conversations. 


  • Do share information and insights that help a buyer easily identify if your product or service is something they should learn more about. 
  • Don’t talk about features, benefits or “how” you solve their problems. 
  • Do simply imply or state that you can solve their problems. 
  • Do lead them to how they can learn more (web site, report, webinar, seminar, meeting with you, customers) 
  • Do ask the question, “Would you like to learn more?” if they are not being obvious. 


  • Do qualify them ($$, decision power, agreed on need) to make sure they are a good fit to consider buying your offering. 
  • Don’t talk them into considering. 
  • Do explain your selling process or how you help them make a decision. 
  • Do have them clarify their concerns or issues they identified in the interest stage. 
  • Do ask and confirm if they would want to invest the time to make a purchasing decision and work through your selling process. Allow them to say yes or no. 
  • Don’t answer for them by pushing a next appointment. 
  • Do allow them to get back to you with their choice to move forward if they need time to consider or discuss with others. 
  • Do allow them to experience your work, product or service if possible. 


  • Do work through your selling process. 
  • Don’t take short cuts. 
  • Do get all appropriate people involved in the process (users, influencers, financial powers). Do have your solution be clearly connected to their issues, concerns or goals. 
  • Don’t rush a decision. 
  • Do confront the buyer with clarifying questions if they are procrastinating or hesitant. 
  • Do let them ask to buy. I enjoy allowing people to buy. One way this is crystal clear to me is when they ask to buy rather than me asking for a decision. When this is happening, it’s a good indicator that you have stayed in tune with the buying stages and communicated (both listening and conveying) very well. This will lead to more referrals and very happy buyers. 

(See more at: http://salesmanagernow.com/tune-customers-buying-process/#sthash.7lYc9HOM.dpuf)

Musical Legacy of the Acadian People

Picard - 4Music and song have always been an important part of Acadian culture. The Acadians brought hundreds of old French songs, many of which were originally accompanied by dances, to each region of the Maritime provinces in which they settled from 1538 – 1758.

Acadia (French: Acadie) was a colony of New France in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine to the Kennebec River. During much of the 17th and early 18th centuries, Norridgewock on the Kennebec River and Castine at the end of the Penobscot River were the southern-most settlements of Acadia. The actual specification by the French government for the territory refers to lands bordering the Atlantic coast, roughly between the 40th and 46th parallels. Later, the territory was divided into the British colonies which became Canadian provinces and American states. The population of Acadia included members of the Wabanaki Confederacy and descendants of emigrants from France (i.e., Acadians). The two communities inter-married, which resulted in a significant portion of the population of Acadia being Métis.

The first capital of Acadia, established in 1605, was Port-Royal. A British force from Virginia attacked and burned down the town in 1613 but it was later rebuilt nearby, where it remained the longest serving capital of French Acadia until the British Siege of Port Royal in 1710. Over seventy-four years there were six colonial wars, in which English and later British interests tried to capture Acadia starting with King William’s War in 1689. During these wars, along with some French troops from Quebec, some Acadians, the Wabanaki Confederacy, and French priests continuously raided New England settlements along the border in Maine. While Acadia was officially conquered in 1710 during Queen Anne’s War, present-day New Brunswick and much of Maine remained contested territory. Present-day Prince Edward Island (Île Saint-Jean) and Cape Breton (Île Royale) as agreed under Article XIII of the Treaty of Utrecht remained under French control. By militarily defeating the Wabanaki Confederacy and the French priests, present-day Maine fell during Father Rale’s War. During King George’s War, France and New France made significant attempts to regain mainland Nova Scotia. After Father Le Loutre’s War, present-day New Brunswick fell to the British. Finally, during the French and Indian War (the North American theatre of the Seven Years’ War), both Île Royale and Île Saint-Jean fell to the British in 1758.

Thanks to data gathered by the French linguist Geneviève Massignon and later by Canadian researchers at Université Laval, Université de Moncton and the National Museums of Canada we know that traditional Acadian music includes over 1,000 different songs (see Acadian Folklore Studies). This musical heritage has provided and continues to provide endless material for musicians and composers.

Until the end of the 19th century, the Acadians lived in isolated groups and had little contact with the outside world. This isolation helped to preserve the traditions of their ancestors: their way of speaking (which is a variant from the Poitou region in France), their cuisine, their celebrations and their oral traditions. Since the Acadians’ arrival on the North American continent in the 17th century, they have passed down songs, stories and legends from generation to generation.

Traditional French (folk) Music

I’m going to present a little background into the traditional music of the French from the period that settled Acadia (1538-1758).  It’s not clear from what I’ve read whether the settlers of Acadia during that time were sophisticated enough to bring with them the High Baroque music of the courts, however we do know enough about the traditional or folk musical instruments of the time to make an educated guess about what that music might have sounded like, and how it influenced the music of that part of Canada today.

High Baroque / Court Music

The Air de cour was a popular type of secular vocal music in France in the late Renaissance and early Baroque period, from about 1570 until around 1650. From approximately 1610 to 1635, during the reign of Louis XIII, this was the predominant form of secular vocal composition in France, especially in the royal court.



Traditional instruments from Béarn include the tambour de Béarn, a six-string drum used as a rhythm drone instrument to accompany the three-holed recorder.

Gascon small pipes, called boha (bouhe), are a well-known part of the local scene. They have a rectangular chanter and drone combination, which is unique to Gascony, and are made out of sheepskin with the fleece showing.
Languedoc is home to several unusual instruments, including the bodega, a kind of bagpipe, and the aboès and graille, both kinds of oboes. The bodega is made out of goatskin, using an unusual process in which the innards of the animal are removed through the neck so that the entire, unbroken skin can be used for the instrument. It has only one large shoulder drone. The bodega is known from at least the 14th century.


Limousin is known for its violin music, as well as the chabrette bagpipe.

Provence & Alps

The most iconic form of Provençal folk music is a duo of fife and drum, or ensembles of galoubets-tambourins; the most prominent characteristic of the region’s folk music, however, is the Italian musical influence.Provence & Alps


The southwestern region of Roussillon’s music is shaped by its unique ethnicities, and includes forms of Catalan and Gypsy music. The former includes the sardana and is based around the city of Perpignan. The sardana is played by a band (coble) consisting of three kinds of oboes, flutes and other instrument, including shawms and bagpipes among some recent revivalists.


Brittany retains its own unbroken piping traditions as well as mainstay instruments such as the bombard.  There are two types of bagpipes indigenous to Brittany. The veuze is very similar to other western European bagpipes such as the Gaita from Galicia and Asturies, while the biniou kozh (old biniou in Breton) is much smaller and is used to accompany the bombarde. The biniou, which plays exactly one octave above the bombarde, and bombarde duo (soner ar couple) are an integral and common part of Breton folk music, and was used historically for dance music. The two performers play alternate lines that intersect at the end, in a similar manner to the Kan ha Diskan style of singing; the bombarde does not usually play every line of the tune, however, usually instead playing every other line, or three out of four lines in a dance tune.



Outside France the island of Corsica is perhaps best known musically for its polyphonic choral tradition.  There are two dances of ancient origin found in Corsica: the caracolu, a women’s funeral dance, and the moresca, illustrating the struggle between Moors and Christians.  The cetera, a cittern of 4 to 8 double strings that is of Tuscan origin and dates back to the Renaissance, is the most iconic Corsican traditional instrument.  Other Corsican instruments include:

  • Caramusa – a bagpipe made of wood, leather and reed
  • Cialamedda (also cialamella/cialambella) – formerly a reed instrument, more recently with a wooden box body
  • Mandulina – a mandolin
  • Pirula – a reed recorder
  • Pifana (also pivana) – a type of gemshorn generally made from a goat horn
  • Riberbula – related to the jaw harp
  • Sunaglieri – mule bells
  • Timpanu – a triangle
  • Urganettu – a diatonic accordion