Art Music by Caribbean Composers: Introduction to Volume 1: Bahamas,

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Art Music by Caribbean Composers:

Introduction to Volume 1: Bahamas, Guadeloupe, Hati, Jamaica, & U.S. Virgin Islands


Christine Gangelhoff

Cathleen LeGrand

The College of The Bahamas



Musical genres associated with the Caribbean region typically include popular and traditional styles such as reggae, calypso, soca, merengue, and zouk, among others.  These musical styles are, in general, well documented both in the scholarly and popular realm; writings on and recordings of these styles are easy to locate.  Art music from the Caribbean region is much less examined and, indeed, less well known.  Many composers of art music have emerged from Caribbean nations, often to little notice.  Research and documentation of this tradition exists but is scattered, easily overlooked and, in general, difficult to locate.


The goal of this project, now in its first volume, is to identify and list all available information on the art-music tradition of the Caribbean region.  It will, ultimately, form a comprehensive document of value to musicians, ethnomusicologists, historians, researchers, educators and students.


The vast scope of the project requires the authors to adopt a modular approach.  This system will allow for an intense focus on each area, to result in a comprehensive data collection.  The first stage of research will focus exclusively on art-music composers born in the Caribbean region.  Composers who relocated to the Caribbean from other regions are not included here.  For the purposes of this project, Caribbean region is defined as all Caribbean-island nations of any colonial affiliation.  Bermuda and The Bahamas are included.  Mainland nations bordering the Caribbean (Belize, Guyana, and Suriname, for instance) are not.  Later stages of research will include composers of significance to, but not native to, the Caribbean region.  Mainland nations with strong cultural ties to the Caribbean (e.g., Guyana) may also be included in future stages.

The authors recognize that this is, inherently, an unfinished work; even once all stages of research are completed, the document will require constant updating as new works are composed, new performances are recorded, etc.


This first volume of the project provides a listing of scores and sheet music; recordings (sound files, CD’s, etc.); websites; a bibliography of books and articles; and a listing of research institutions and libraries regarding composers of Caribbean art music.  Whenever possible, the authors include information on the potential sources of these materials (directions to where they can be acquired, either by purchase, by download, or by borrowing).


The authors have intentionally excluded materials existing exclusively in outdated formats (such as 78 LPs, audiocassettes, and microform).  The authors also have excluded those works for which a record exists but no copies can be located. (If an item cannot at least be borrowed from a library or purchased from a vendor, it is not included here.)

Defining Art Music

Art music is a difficult concept to define.  The distinction between art music and folk music is indeed blurred and, as a result, is difficult to articulate.


For this project, the authors used the following criteria to distinguish art music from popular, traditional and folk music (styles which, again, are not covered here, being already well-represented elsewhere).  These criteria do not arise from elitist intentions and are outlined in order to demonstrate clearly which works are included in the scope of this project:


         Art music descends from the western classical tradition.


         Art music may draw inspiration from or make use of melodies from folk music or dance tunes, as composers have done throughout history.  But, while the subject matter may be borrowed from the folk or popular traditions, the style remains formal, often with advanced musical structure.


         Art music is fully composed.  Parts are arranged and are written in western staff notation.  Music preserved only by oral tradition and not fixed in a written medium does not qualify.  (This criterion serves to distinguish classical music of non-western traditions.)


         All parts are played as written.  Interpretation, as opposed to improvisation, is the dominant focus of the performer.  (Accordingly, music played from a lead sheet or a jazz chart is excluded under this definition.)


         The composition and performance or interpretation of art music requires specialized skill and knowledge, unique to the classical style.


         The experiential focus of art music is on listening to the performance as opposed to physical engagement such as dancing.

Volume One

This first volume includes composers born in the following nations: The Bahamas, Guadeloupe, Hati, Jamaica and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Other nations will be covered in subsequent volumes.

This bibliography is separated by country.  Within each country, it is divided into the following sections:


         Composers:  Composer information includes names, dates, and country of origin.  This list is arranged alphabetically by last name of composer


         Compositions:  This list is arranged first by composer (alphabetically by last name) and, within each composer, alphabetically by title of work.  Whenever possible, titles of works are given in their original language: English, French or Hatian Creole.  The date of publication and instrumentation of each work, when available, are also included.


         Scores and sheet music:  These lists are also arranged first by composer (alphabetically by last name) and, within each composer, alphabetically by performer or by title of work.

         Recordings:  Arranged by composer, the format of the recording (whether CD or online soundfile) is indicated.


         Relevant websites:  Arranged alphabetically by title of website.


         Books, articles, theses and dissertations, and films:  These works are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the author of the work.


         Libraries and research institutes.  These are arranged alphabetically by name of institution.


A YouTube channel, CariClassical, accompanies this bibliography.  This channel features examples of works of art music highlighted in the bibliography as well as examples of folk musical styles that have influenced art-music composers of the Caribbean region.  Hyperlinks to the videos included on CariClassical may be found throughout the introductions to each of the chapters of this bibliography.


General Works

Black musicians leading the way. (1982). Music Educators Journal, 68(6), 46-48. doi:10.2307/3397768

de Lerma, D. R. (1990). Black composers in Europe: A works list. Black Music Research Journal, 10(2), 275-334. doi:10.2307/779389

de Lerma, D. R., McKenzie, D., & Vlaun, L. (1984). A concordance of scores and recordings of music by black composers. Black Music Research Journal, 4, 60-140. Available at

Floyd, S. A. (1999). Black music of the circum-Caribbean. American Music, 17(1), 1-38. doi:10.2307/3052372

Floyd, S. A. (Ed.). (1999). International dictionary of black composers (2 vol.). Chicago, IL: Fitzroy Dearborn.

Gray, J. (1988). Blacks in classical music: A bibliographic guide to composers, performers and ensembles. New York, NY: Greenwood Press.

Inanga, G. (2008). Genre theory, western classical music and the Caribbean musical arts. Journal of the University College of the Cayman Islands, 2, 4-17.

Kuss, M. (Ed.). (2007). Music in Latin America and the Caribbean: An encyclopedic history, Vol. 2: Performing the Caribbean experience. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Szwed, J. F., & Marks, M. (1988). The Afro-American transformation of European set dances and dance suites. Dance Research Journal, 20(1), 29-36. doi:10.2307/1478814


Center for Black Music Research. (2010). Bibliographies & music lists. Chicago, IL: Columbia College. Retrieved from

Center for Black Music Research. (2010). Discography of music by black composers. Chicago, IL: Columbia College. Retrieved from

Classical composers database. (2010). Retrieved from

[Composers are searchable alphabetically by last name or by group. Groups include nationality, periods and styles.]

Composers of African descent. (2009). African heritage in classical music. Retrieved from


The Center for Black Music Research (CBMR), Library & Archives

Columbia College, Chicago, IL

618 South Michigan Avenue, 6th Floor

Chicago, IL 60605

Hours: 9-5 (Central Time), Monday-Friday

Telephone: (312) 369-7586

[A] research unit of Columbia College Chicago devoted to research, preservation, and dissemination of information about the history of black music on a global scale.

William & Gayle Cook Music Library

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

200 South Jordan Avenue

Bloomington, IN 47405

Telephone: (812) 855-2970

3,250 books, scores, and recordings are cataloged in the Black Music Collection These materials can be accessed in the online catalog by the local subject heading Black music collection.

Online Library Catalog: (Click on Guest Access)


Christine Gangelhoff, Assistant Professor, School of Communication and Creative Arts; Cathleen LeGrand, Public Services Librarian, Libraries and Instructional Media Services; The College of The Bahamas, P.O. Box N-4912, Nassau, Bahamas.

Cathleen LeGrand is now Librarian at Royal Thimphu College, Ngabiphu, Thimphu, Bhutan.

Acknowledgments: The authors are grateful to The College of The Bahamas for the grant that made this research possible.


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