Sega Music

éga is the popular music of Reunion, Mauritius, Rodrigues and other small atolls(Mascarene Islands). It is  popular in Comoros and Madagascar. The term may have come from the Swahili word tsiega or tchega.


Sega had its beginning in the slave era, among the creole population of African origins. It was entertainment music and ritual music. It was music danced by couples that required complex erotic movement, with bodies never touching. It was discourage by the colonial government and during the early part of the 20th century went underground. It re-surfaced in the middle of the 20th century.

Traditional Form

Sega makes use of syncopated beats of fused ternary and binary rhythm. The rhythm has a 6/8 meter, though structure tend to defy western analysis.

Instrumentation has varied with time. Sega was originally played with violins, diatonic accordions,  oulé( a large cylinder drum covered with cowskin), kayamb( a rattle made of wood from sugarcane), triangle, ravanne(a tamborine-like instrument made from goatskin), tantam(guitar-like instrument), maravanne(maraca-like instruments).

Later, the mandolin was added and the banjo became the string instrument of choice. The diatonic accordion was replaced with the chromatic accordion. Guitar, brass instruments, and drumsets were added.

Melodies use triadic structures sung in a variety of ranges, surpassing one octave. Harmonizing tend to be simple. Sega is sang in creole. Subject can be sexual in nature and riddle with insults. Lyrics tend to make use of puns.

Modern Form

Modern Sega makes use of electric guitar, bass, and other Western instrumentation and harmonizing. It has retain the rhymic pattern and some of the traditional instrumentation of traditional Sega.The electric guitar plays parts originally assigned to the ravanne by strumming chords on the second and fifth beat. Modern Sega lacks the "loose responsorial style" of the traditional form, instead uses simple refrains.

Related Article: ZydecoKompa, Zouk 

Works Cited

Arnold, Alison(2000). South Asia: the Indian subcontinent, Part 1. Taylor & Francis, pp. 609. ISBN 0824049462, 9780824049461

Mountain, Alan and Proust, Alan(2000).This is Mauritius. pp. 22. ISBN 1843303019, 9781843303015  

Manuel, Peter(1990). Popular musics of the non-Western world: an introductory survey. Oxford University Press. pp. 112-114. ISBN 0195063341, 9780195063349

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