Seychelles: Music and Dance

Date Posted: 19/05/2017

Seychelles is a melting pot of different styles of traditional music and dance that reveal the culturally diverse background of the nation's history:


A traditional dance, the Moutia is accompanied by a chorus of Madagascan or African rhythm that is played on percussion instruments, such as tom-tom and other drums and stringed instruments. Foreign influences from when the islands were colonised by the French in the 18th century, followed by the British in the 19th century, were responsible for introducing the guitar and violin; both play a significant part in Seychelles' music today.


Sega is a hugely popular music and dance style, with its characteristic hip-swaying movements. Historians believe it originated from the slave population on Reunion and Mauritius, before it spread to the rest of the Seychelles and other Indian Ocean islands. Sega music is traditionally performed on simple instruments such as hand drums, rattles and musical bows. These accompany a dance in which the body moves, while the feet remain rooted to the floor.

seychelles sega


This classical dance is believed to have been imported, as it resembles a mixture of Scottish square dancing, a Scottish reel and the French Royal Court's contredanse. Accompanied by an accordion, violin and banjos, the contredanse was a French version of English country dances integrated with steps typical of the French court. Dating from the early 19th century, the kanmtole is a lively blend of all these dance styles.


More reflective, maloya is a slower style of music than sega, although it is played on similar instruments. With African roots, the instruments are traditional; such as the doumdoum, djembe, bobre and balafon. Traditionally, the accompanying lyrics were sometimes connected to Creole separatism and performances by some maloya artists who displayed political leanings were actually banned until the 1980s.


The similarities between Seychellois music and reggae have led to the creation of a hybrid sound known as seggae; a blend of reggae, sega and pop. This movement has been led by young musicians - in particular, a band called Mersener that has a legion of fans all over the world. Seggae brings a modern ambience to sega by using electric instruments, with lyrics that are punchy and quite rap-like. This hybrid sound proved popular in London, after Mersener played there in 2012 as part of their world tour.


Traditional sounds blend with modern arrangements and instruments to form a new genre called zouk. Formed by islanders who moved to Paris, a band named Kassav is credited with starting zouk in 1979, taking their influences from many music genres. Using a local dialect, which is something they have never compromised, all the lyrics are written in French Antillean Creole. They have enjoyed international success with 20 albums.

Other musical styles in Seychelles include hip-hop, country, modern jazz, rock, ballads and choirs performing traditional popular, sacred, ancient and evangelical music. It's thanks to Seychelles' diverse past that these music and dance styles have evolved over the centuries to give the nation its rich musical heritage.

seychelles dancing

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