Thursday, May 29, 2014

Five Examples Of Records By Ti Frere, The King Of Sega Music (Mauritius)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides five examples of Sega music by the renown Mauritius vocalist Ti Frere. A Bonus video of contemporary Sega music and dance is also included in this post. Information about Mauritius, information about Sega music and information about Ti Frere are also included in this post.

The content of this post is provided for folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the musical legacy of Ti Frere. Thanks also to all other vocalists, musicians, and dancers who are featured in this post and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. In addition, thanks to the publishers of these YouTube sound files and videos.

"Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent."

The music of Mauritius is known for sega music, alongside the nearby Réunion island, though reggae, zouk, soukous and other genres are also popular. Well-known traditional sega singers from Mauritius include Ti Frére, Marlene Ravaton, Serge Lebrasse, Michel Legris. and Fanfan.

The Sega is usually sung in Creole (mother tongue of Mauritians). Many singers had thought of also bringing forward the English version of the Sega songs but later resolved not to proceed with it so as to preserve the uniqueness and cultural richness of the local music of Mauritius. The original instruments are fast disappearing, making way for the more conventional orchestra ensemble. However, all along the coastal fishing villages, the traditional instruments such as the “Ravanne”, “Triangle”, the “Maravanne” and the traditional guitar are still being used...

The past fifty years have been a vibrant period of sega music, much of which has not been documented. In the past twenty years, Mauritian music has been revitalized by a fusion of reggae and sega, known as seggae. This new wave emerged from one of poorer suburbs of Port Louis, known as Roche Bois, with the musician Kaya (Joseph Reginald Topize) and his group Racinetatane as the first major proponent. It gained much popularity among Rastafarians and then more widely among the youths of Mauritius in the late 1980s and early 1990s.]
Additional information about Sega music is provided in some of the summaries for the examples given below.

The Real TiFrère Jean Alphonse Ravaton, alias Ti Frere, was born on April 29th, 1900. His father was Madagascan ( Ravaton is a Madagascan surname) and a sega artist too, the art form being characteristically passed on from father to son, and groups often made up of members of the same family...

Ti Frere has performed [Segas] all his life. He would be called upon for parties, beach picnics, drinks after shooting parties which he himself would participate as a beater and sometimes as hunter. His sega artist reputation was firmly established through veritable tournaments, "pariages sega", contests with no prize and no jury, put on from village to village, which would last all night long, even today into the next day with only judges being the dancers and their audience.

Although Ti Frere was reputed locally, he had to wait until 1964 to achieve fame on a national scale. On October 30th of that year occurred the famous " Night Of the Sega". Held on Mt. Le Morne, it was a musical and theatrical happening which Mauritians still remember. In some ways this happening was the official reinstatement of the sega and the first step towards an awareness of Afro-Mauritian cultural identity. Four years away from independence and cohabitating with Indian, Moslem, European, Chinese ethnic groups, the Afro-Mauritian, so called Creole community felt the need to assert its identity through a rediscovery and conservation of its roots. On that night a sega contest was organised after which Ti Frere was crowned " King of sega". From then on, he was in the public eye and recorded a series of 45’s which are unobtainable today. To the traditional ravanne, maravane , and triangle, Ti Frere would sometimes add the accordion, influenced by his father (and his own) dance band instruments. Like other sega artist , Ti Frere has never been able to live from it. He has had many different trades: wood cutter, cane-cutter, " casseur roches" (boulder breaker), bus conductor, forester"...

This unique situation made Ti Frere a synthesis of African and European roots, and able, by assimilation away from the structure of African-inherited classical sega ( drumcall, soloist, choir), to adopt a form inspirited by European models: Sega’s with verse and a refrain sung from beginning to end by a soloist where melody counted above all. The " drawing room sega" followed similar lines but Ti Frere remained traditional without losing any of the rhythmic intensity and inspiration of the original rhythmic framework and ravanne sega instrumentation."...
This article contains more information about Ti Frere and more information about Segas.

According to an online Haitian Creole to English translating service, the words "ti frere" mean "little brother". My guess is that this nickname means the same thing in Mauritician Creole.

These examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting date on YouTube, with the oldest examples given first.

Example #1: Sega - Ti Frere

Palette Morisienne... Mauritius , Uploaded on Feb 25, 2008

Ti Frere - Vintage
Most pictures are from 1950s and 70s.
Click to read information about the photographs that are shown as background to this recording.

Example #2: Ti Frere - Papitou (Sega Tipik - Mauritius)

David Yardin, Uploaded on May 10, 2008

This is a short extract from the documentary "Zafair Kaya". The clip features the song "Papitou" by one of the most famous Séga singers from Mauritius, Ti Frere (Jean Alphonse Ravaton).

Séga is the music/dance developed by the African and Malagasy slaves on the islands of the Indian Ocean. There are various types of Séga, this particular song being an example of Sega Tipik or Séga Typique (Traditional style from Mauritius).

The video also shows footage of the construction of a traditional drum, known in Mauritius as the Ravanne. The Ravanne is a large flat hand drum constructed from a goat skin, drawn taut over a wooden circular frame. Before being played, it is tuned over a fire.

The audio for the song is in Mauritian Creole, and the narration is in French. I'll maybe do an English subtitle version soon (most of the narration about the Ravanne I've mentioned above anyway).

You can find this song and more music by Ti Frere on the Ocora France release "Ile Maurice: Hommage a Ti Frere".
IleMauriceUKConnect, 2008
"This is the kind of Sega Tipik that I would really like to hear. Although I am born in the late 80's I never known TiFrere but it brings a different perception about Mauritius when I listen to the words. A way of life and harmony around. Hopefully the modern singers can find aspiration from that type of sega and continue the mauritian culture Which is gradually fading.That is a shame! Kan mo tanne sa banne sega tipik la mo manque mo l'ile. Mo tipti l'ile la, ene grand pays sa!!"

Example #3: Clarel Betsy - Ti Frere

Palette Morisienne... Mauritius, Uploaded on Dec 12, 2009

Example #4: Hommage à Ti Frere : Roseda (Séga Typique de l'Ile Maurice)

mru95 , Uploaded on Jul 4, 2010


mru95, mru95• Uploaded on Oct 15, 2010

Hommage à Ti Frère ...

Kadans Tropikal - Ile Maurice/Mauritius

StudioProCh Uploaded on Jul 4, 2006

Grup Kadans Tropikal - Nuvo Desizion (sega promotion) *** introduces you the last clip of the Grup Kadans Tropikal from Mauritius (by Scorpio Studio). More about the group, CD "Nuvo Desizion": Madir Music Productions,

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