Spirits Across the Ocean: Yoruban and Dahomean Cultures in the Caribbean Brought by the Slave Trade

Much of Latin American music owes its origins to the slave trade. Peoples from the Yoruban and Dahomean cultures brought with them the distinctive rhythms, time signatures, and eighth note patterns that now characterize Caribbean music. Four lessons introduce young musicians to the music, as well as to the history of how the Yoruban and Dahomean peoples came to live in Cuba, Haiti, Brazil, and Trinidad.

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Instructional Ideas
  • Instructors should listen to the recordings and read the liner notes for background information
  • Have group practice and present some of the songs during Black History Month celebrations
Classroom Considerations
  • Requires hand drums and rhythm sticks (claves)
  • Learners should have a basic understanding of rhythm and music literacy
  • Part of the Smithsonian Folk Ways series
  • This resource is only available on an unencrypted HTTP website. It should be fine for general use, but don’t use it to share any personally identifiable information
Pros
  • The packet includes a detailed lesson plan, links to the required recordings, and primary source images
Cons
  • The lesson plan includes several typos