The musical characteristics
The most common form of compas is Djaz nòmal
It is characterized by a scalable richness, which can spread especially live.
A Compas song has a relaxed swing, it unfolds and it rolls.
A good Compas song always sounds a little different without leaving the cadence of the track.
Through its big and small climaxes and the subsequent breaks Compas gets a modular character. The different
melodic elements (choruses, riffs, choirs, solos) can be connected percussively by quotations from traditional rhythms.
This principle is already common in Rara - Up and Downs - one phase of a procession ends and flows on in a transitional
rhythm, the mood relaxes, only to build up again peu à peu.
Over the decades, a large repertoire of typical percussion elements (climbs, breaks and bridges) has originated. The
possibilities of variation are enormous. The bright kata rhythm on the cymbal can be played with manifold intermediate
tones and nuances that continuously correspond with the tension curve.
Compas is something organic, the leisurely rolling groove never breaks. In some moments the percussion dissolves in
the melody or the melody in the percussion.
This variability and the possible complexity of the totality of
rhythmic structures can be attributed to the eclecticism of Haitian musicians. It is the ability to form a new context out
of many elements and to always have a heightening or an accentuation ready, which fits seamlessly into the Compas structure.
While in many Caribbean music styles and rhythms, the dance beat takes hold from the first moment, the effect of Compas is subject
to a dynamic over the duration of the playing time, the groove sets in later. The entirety of a Compas song cannot always be grasped
in its entirety at the first hearing.
At this point it should also be mentioned, Haitians play the drum more smoothly and variably than others in the Caribbean.