The Maloya Shuffle - A Rhythmical Analysis of Maloya
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In this thesis, I follow cultural and Western theoretical methodologies used in the literature on traditional African rhythms to find and analyse the main rhythmical and cultural characteristics of maloya. Maloya is a music style that originates from La Réunion, a French colony in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Maloya plays an important role as political identification for the creole community in a performative way. The rhythm is a main ingredient for dancing and collaborate participating in music and is therefore important for maloya as a cultural performative identity. In a Western theoretical framework, the maloya shuffle would fit somewhere between a binary and a ternary meter, with an unequal note length and an accented afterbeat. In a strict divisive Western analysis, the rhythm could be counted in quintuplets and thus in a 5/8 meter with a hemiola. Although a 5/8 rhythm does not occur in African music, there are main African rhythmic key-patterns that show off-centeredness, hemiola’s and other complex rhythmic structures as well as in music styles that derive from African music like many South-American rhythms. Cultural and historical theory shows that maloya should be counted in a 12/8 meter. The ternary 12/8 meter is much more common in African music than a binary rhythm. The slave trade history and similarities in the musical performance show a strong connection between these two cultures. Looking at the motions in dance and playing maloya instruments shows that a maloya musician feels the rhythm in a 12/8 meter.