The Sounds of Haiti, Past and Present

Jacmel National Guards Band Jacmel 1921

Jacmel National Guards, Jacmel, 1921. Courtesy of the EKO Haiti Archives.


Created by Leah Lalljie, BMCC and Joely Castillo, BMCC

Graduate Fellow Janelle Poe, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Alex Ho, BMCC and Prof. RaShelle Peck, BMCC

External Collaborators: Paul M. Martinez and Marasa Lafalaise, Central Park Rara

Summary: These two related Open Educational Resources (OERs) asks students to think about the music of the world through project-based learning. Leah and Joely focused on music from Haiti. For your project, you can pick a country or a genre of music to explore. Think about what the music and genre says about it’s origin country or place. Haiti’s rich and complex history has played a significant role in the development of Kompa and Hip Hop Creole. The blending of African and French musical traditions, as well as the themes of political and social events, reflect the country’s history of colonialism, slavery, and political instability. These genres have helped to preserve and promote Haitian culture, and have given voice to the people’s struggles and victories.

Please see this link to the corresponding lesson plan, for how to use these OERs.

Open Educational Resource: Timeline

“Rhythms of the Past: The Sounds of Early Haitian Music” by Joely Castillo, BMCC

Click here for full OER.

Open Education Resource: Slide Presentation

“Haitian Music!: How has Haiti’s history affected the development of Kompa and Hip Hop Creole?” by Leah Lalljie, BMCC

This is a Haitian artist named Erol Josué showing us how the music is moving through his bones. Reading about Kompa and Hip Hop creole is one thing, but going out to these events and being apart of the culuture, music, and dance will emotionally impact you, feel a deeper connection, and hear the authenticity.
Monvelyno is a Haitian artist trying to keep the original and older generational sounds of Haitian music in his new music. He wants to bring back what his ancestors had first made. With his music he feels like it is a language to the soul. In this video Monvelyno feels a deep connection whilst performing, it is a wonder experience to witness.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.