After the opening movement that illustrates the mixture of French and West African cultures, the next movement, the Gloria, needs to make a strong Haitian musical statement. This will show the audience what new music resulted from this mixture. Naturally, this movement needs to be set to an unabashed konpa groove. While Jamaica has reggae, Cuba has salsa, and Trinidad has calypso, Haiti’s central dance rhythm is Konpa.
During my session with Karl-Henri, I realized that the text “Gloria in excelsis Deo” fits perfectly into the konpa. The number of syllables, the accented and unaccented parts of each word seem to be made for konpa. Little did those second century Romans know that their prayer would one day lock into a hot dance groove on a continent they had never imagined! So, for parts of this movement, I will translate the various drum rhythms into vocal parts, therefore turning the choir into a rhythm ensemble.
This is a long text, so like other composers, I may only use portions of it. The “Gloria in excelsis Deo” text will work nicely as a refrain, with other portions of the text functioning as verses.