Many of these tunes date back to the 1800's and share similarities to common fiddle tunes and rags, while still retaining a distinctly "island" feel that helps tag them as being from the Caribbean. Guitarist Kevin Sanders - a member of both the Etcetera String Band and The Rhythmia - helped me obtain a copy of the out of print Bonne Humeur CD last year which is definitely worth seeking out if you're interested in this type of music. All transcriptions shown below were done by Nick DiSebastian. Here's a YouTube playlist where some of these tunes can be heard.
Aurore Bradaire is a Creole song named after a woman. You can play it with a polka rhythm. It comes from Slave Songs of the United States, the first authentic collection of slave songs ever published, where its transcription comes from a woman who heard it being sung in a time before the Civil War on the Good Hope Plantation, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana.
|Aurore Bradaire – Coonjaille (Louisiana)|
|Bad Woman – Paseo|
|Blanche Toucatou/Can-Can (Creole Song)|
|Calinda – Louisiana|
Carnaval En Margarita is a paseo by Lionel Belasco. Margarita is an island off the Venezuelan coast which Belasco visited. Belasco was classically trained, but preferred playing indigenous music.
|Carnaval En Margarita – Paseo|
Chai Bai comes from Cape Verde, an island group off the northwestern coast of Africa, with an African-Portuguese culture. This tune was included in John Philip Sousa’s book (1890), published by H. Coleman in Philadelphia.
|Chai Bai – Cape Verde|
Dodo Li Pitite is a fun little Haitian folk tune, good for playing at a country ball. It was found in Jean Price-Mars' book So Spoke the Uncle, a work on Haitian culture published in 1928.
|Dodo Li Petite – Haiti|
La Douceur is a hypnotic Meringue Hatienne written by Arthur L. Duroseau. The music is featured in Tell My Horse by Zora Neale Hurston. More recently, it was recorded by BeauSoleil on the album From Bamako to Carencro.
|La Douceur – Meringue (Haiti)|
Lisette was composed by Ludovic Lamothe, the "Black Chopin" of Haiti. He composed several meringues and other dance and concert tunes based on local folklore. He recorded 10 of his pieces on an album called Fleurs d'Haiti.
|Lisette – Meringue (Haiti)|
Souvenir d'Haiti was written by Othello Bayard and is considered to be his masterpiece. It is one of the best known and loved meringues in Haiti. Selden Rodman wrote about this tune in his book Haiti: The Black Republic.
|Souvenir d’Haiti – Meringue Popular (Haiti)|