Long a taboo subject among critics, rhythm finally takes center stage in this book's dazzling, wide-ranging examination of diverse black cultures across the New World. Martin Munro’s groundbreaking work traces the central—and contested—role of music in shaping identities, politics, social history, and artistic expression. Starting with enslaved African musicians, Munro takes us to Haiti, Trinidad, the French Caribbean, and to the civil rights era in the United States. Along the way, he highlights such figures as Toussaint Louverture, Jacques Roumain, Jean Price-Mars, The Mighty Sparrow, Aimé Césaire, Edouard Glissant, Joseph Zobel, Daniel Maximin, James Brown, and Amiri Baraka. Bringing to light new connections among black cultures, Munro shows how rhythm has been both a persistent marker of race as well as a dynamic force for change at virtually every major turning point in black New World history.
Introduction: Slaves to the Rhythm
1. Beating Back Darkness: Rhythm and Revolution in Haiti
2. Rhythm, Creolization, and Conflict in Trinidad
3. Rhythm, Music, and Literature in the French Caribbean
4. James Brown, Rhythm, and Black Power
Conclusion: Listening to New World History
Martin Munro is Associate Professor of French and Francophone Literatures at Florida State University.
“A compelling interdisciplinary exploration of rhythm and sound in the circum-Caribbean. This ambitious inquiry into issues of race and racism, class and culture, politics and aesthetics thoroughly considers the appreciation and even mobilization of rhythm in a variety of New World contexts.”—Kaima L. Glover Oxford Journal
“Examining Black music in the western hemisphere since slavery, this book makes clear the essential role it has played in culture, politics and social change.”—B.l.a.c.
“Munro’s Different Drummers convincingly outlines the necessary convergence of Caribbean studies with the critical approaches shaping the emerging field of sound studies, and in this capacity, will certainly be a work that will help shape the new directions being taken in these fields.”—Small Axe
"Munro argues in an informed and imaginative way that greater attention should be paid to the recurring sonic elements of black cultures in the new world. Different Drummers
provides profound insights into the importance of rhythm as a marker of resistance and a dynamic facet of everyday life across Caribbean literatures and in African American music."—J. Michael Dash, New York University
"Munro takes us on a fascinating journey through the music of poetry and the poetry of music, beautifully tying together the cultures and literary texts of a range of Caribbean societies."—Laurent Dubois, author of Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France