Music of Belize

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The music of Belize has a mix of Creole, Mestizo, Garìfuna, Mayan and European influences.

Belize country in Central America

Belize is an independent and sovereign country located on the north eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered on the northwest by Mexico, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by Guatemala. It has an area of 22,970 square kilometres (8,867 sq mi) and a population of 387,879 (2017). Its mainland is about 180 mi (290 km) long and 68 mi (110 km) wide. It has the lowest population and population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year (2015) is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.

Belizean Creoles, also known as Kriols, are Creole descendants of Black Africans, enslaved and brought to Belize by English and Scottish log cutters, who were known as the Baymen. Over the years they have also intermarried with Miskito from Nicaragua, Jamaicans and other West Indians, Mestizos and East Indians, who were brought to Belize as indentured laborers. These varied peoples have all mixed to create this ethnic group.

Mestizo race

Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Spain, Latin America and the Philippines that originally referred to a person of combined European and Indigenous American descent, regardless of where the person was born. The term was used as an ethnic/racial category in the casta system that was in use during the Spanish Empire's control of its American and Asian colonies.

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European and African influences

After many centuries of Maya habitation, British colonizers arrived in the area in the 17th century. Belize was Britain's only colony in Spanish-dominated Central America until self-government in 1964 and gaining full Independence in 1981. Belize is still part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Far more influential than this presence, however, was the importation of African slaves.

Europeans brought polkas, waltzes, schottisches and quadrilles, while Africans brought numerous instruments and percussion-based musics, including marimba. [1] [2] African culture resulted in the creation of brukdown music in interior logging camps, played using banjo, guitar, drums, dingaling bell, accordion and an ass' jaw bone played by running a stick up and down the teeth. [2]

The polka is originally a Czech dance and genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. The polka remains a popular folk music genre in many European countries, and is performed by folk artists in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, Croatia and Finland, and to a lesser extent in Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus, Russia, and Slovakia. Local varieties of this dance are also found in the Nordic countries, Spain's Basque Country, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America and the United States.

Waltz dance

The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance, normally in triple  time, performed primarily in closed position.

The schottische is a partnered country dance that apparently originated in Bohemia. It was popular in Victorian era ballrooms as a part of the Bohemian folk-dance craze and left its traces in folk music of countries such as Argentina, Finland ("jenkka"), France, Italy, Norway ("reinlender"), Portugal and Brazil, Spain (chotis), Sweden, Denmark ("schottis"), Mexico, and the United States, among other nations. The schottische is considered by The Oxford Companion to Music to be a kind of slower polka, with continental-European origin.

Mestizo and Maya music

Maya Mestizo culture in north and west Belize, and also Guatemala, is characterised by marimba, a xylophone-like instrument descended from an African instrument. Marimba bands use drum sets, double bass and sometimes other instruments. Famous performers included Alma Belicena and the Los Angeles Marimba Band. [3] In Benque Viejo Del Carmen, the Los Angeles Marimbas were owned by the Castellanos family, whose patriarch, Ernesto Castellanos was both musician and master marimba maker.[ citation needed ] They gave scheduled weekend performances at the Los Angeles Club (also owned by the Castellanos Family) on Church Street in Benque Viejo Del Carmen.[ citation needed ] Well known bands in Northern Belize in the old days were Los Beliceños, Los Cañeros, Los Atlanticos, Lucio y su nueva Generacion and Mauro y sus Profetas.[ citation needed ] One of the popular contemporary marimba bands is the Benque Marimba Youth Academy. [4] In the villages of northern Belize you will also find Maya Pax bands which mostly play for traditional Maya dances like the Hoghead dance like La banda de San Jose in Orange Walk district. [5]

Guatemala Republic in Central America

Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala, is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize and the Caribbean to the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvador to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. With an estimated population of around 16.6 million, it is the most populated country in Central America. Guatemala is a representative democracy; its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.

Marimba percussion instrument consisting of a set of wooden bars struck with mallets

The marimba is a percussion instrument consisting of a set of wooden bars struck with yarn or rubber mallets to produce musical tones. Resonators or pipes suspended underneath the bars amplify their sound. The bars of a chromatic marimba are arranged like the keys of a piano, with the groups of two and three accidentals raised vertically, overlapping the natural bars to aid the performer both visually and physically. This instrument is a type of idiophone, but with a more resonant and lower-pitched tessitura than the xylophone. A person who plays the marimba is called a marimbist or a marimba player.

Xylophone musical instrument of the family of mallets

The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets. Each bar is an idiophone tuned to a pitch of a musical scale, whether pentatonic or heptatonic in the case of many African and Asian instruments, diatonic in many western children's instruments, or chromatic for orchestral use.

Cumbia music is mostly performed by bands in the northern region of the country where Mestizos and Maya (Yucatec Maya) are abundant. Cumbia is a genre of music with similar qualities to the salsa and merengue.[ citation needed ]

Cumbia Folkloric genre and dance from Colombia and Panama

Cumbia[ˈkumbja] is a folkloric genre and dance from Colombia and Panama.

Kriol music

Among the most popular styles created by Kriol musicians is brukdown. Brukdown evolved out of the music and dance of loggers, especially a form called buru. [6] Buru was often satirical in nature, and eventually grew more urban, accompanied by a donkey's jawbone, drums and a banjo. The word brukdown may come from broken down calypso, referring to the similarities between brukdown and Trinidadian calypso music; the presence of large numbers of Jamaicans in Belize also led to an influence from mento music. [6]

Brukdown is a genre of Belizean music. Its best-known performer and innovator, Wilfred Peters is regarded as a Belizean national icon. The word brukdown may come from broken down calypso, referring to the similarities between brukdown and Trinidadian calypso music; the presence of large numbers of Jamaicans in Belize also led to an influence from mento music.

Buru island

Buru is the third largest island within Maluku Islands of Indonesia. It lies between the Banda Sea to the south and Seram Sea to the north, west of Ambon and Seram islands. The island belongs to Maluku province and includes the Buru and South Buru regencies. Their administrative centers, Namlea and Namrole, respectively, have ports and the largest towns of the island. There is a military airport at Namlea which supports civilian cargo transportation.

Drum type of musical instrument of the percussion family

The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments. In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system, it is a membranophone. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a percussion mallet, to produce sound. There is usually a resonance head on the underside of the drum, typically tuned to a slightly lower pitch than the top drumhead. Other techniques have been used to cause drums to make sound, such as the thumb roll. Drums are the world's oldest and most ubiquitous musical instruments, and the basic design has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years.

In modern forms, new instruments have been added to brukdown. The "boom and chime groups" use bass guitar, electric guitar and congas, for example. Popular brukdown groups include The Tigers, The Mahogany Chips, Mimi Female Duet and Brad Pattico. Brukdown remains a rural, rarely recorded genre.[ citation needed ]

The bass guitar is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses.

Electric guitar electrified guitar; fretted stringed instrument with a neck and body that uses a pickup to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals

An electric guitar is a guitar that uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals. The vibration occurs when a guitar player strums, plucks, fingerpicks, slaps or taps the strings. The pickup generally uses electromagnetic induction to create this signal, which being relatively weak is fed into a guitar amplifier before being sent to the speaker(s), which converts it into audible sound.

Conga Cuban drum

The conga, also known as tumbadora, is a tall, narrow, single-headed drum from Cuba. Congas are staved like barrels and classified into three types: quinto, tres dos or tres golpes (middle), and tumba or salidor (lowest). Congas were originally used in Afro-Cuban music genres such as conga and rumba, where each drummer would play a single drum. Following numerous innovations in conga drumming and construction during the mid-20th century, as well as its internationalization, it became increasingly common for drummers to play two or three drums. Congas have become a popular instrument in many forms of Latin music such as son, descarga, Afro-Cuban jazz, salsa, songo, merengue and Latin rock.

Garifuna music

The Garifuna (also called Garinagu) are descended from escaped Island Caribs who were deported from St. Vincent to Central America (especially Honduras and also Belize) in 1802 by the British when they conquered St. Vincent. The Garifunas kept themselves apart from the social system then dominant, leading to a distinctive culture that developed throughout the 20th century.

Forms of Garifuna folk music and dance encompass many styles including: punta, hungu-hungu, combination, wanaragua, abaimahani, matamuerte, laremuna wadaguman, gunjai, charikanari, sambai, charikanari, eremuna egi, paranda, berusu, punta rock, teremuna ligilisi, arumahani, and Mali-amalihani. Punta and Punta rock are the most popular forms of dance music in Garifuna culture. Punta is performed around holidays and at parties, and other social events. Punta lyrics are usually composed by the women. Chumba and hunguhungu are circular dances in a three beat rhythm, which are often combined with punta. There are other songs typical to each gender, women having eremwu eu and abaimajani, rhythmic a cappella songs, and laremuna wadaguman, men's work songs.

Drums play an important role in Garifuna music. These drums are typically made of hollowed-out hardwood such as mahogany or mayflower, with the skins coming from the peccary (wild bush pig), deer, or sheep. Also used in combination with the drums are the sisera. These shakers are made from the dried fruit of the gourd tree, filled with seeds, then fitted with hardwood handles.

In contemporary Belize there has been a resurgence of Garifuna music, popularized by musicians such as Andy Palacio, Mohobub Flores, & Adrian Martinez. These musicians have taken many aspects from traditional Garifuna music forms and fused them with more modern sounds in a style described as a mixture of punta rock and paranda. One great example is Andy Palacio's album Watina released on the Belizean record label "Stone Tree Records."

Modern music

Belize's musical base has expanded considerably in recent years with the addition of local reggae, reggaeton, punta, soca, dancehall, hip hop, rock, and metal acts. The latter genre includes bands like Death Suppressor and Lasher Zombie

However, despite growing local scenes, modern music from other Caribbean nations (primarily Jamaican dancehall and Trinidadian soca ), as well as commercial pop music from the United States and United Kingdom still remain the most popular genres of music among young Belizeans.

Belizean artists

Notable Belizean artists and performers include:

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Central American music

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Punta rock or Belizean punta is a form of the traditional punta rhythm of the Garifuna people of Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala. Although most artist and bands are exclusively Garifuna, songs are usually in Kriol or Garifuna and rarely in Spanish, or English.

Punta traditional style of music and dance performed by the Garifuna people

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Andy Palacio Belizean musician

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Paul Nabor, born Alfonso Palacio, was a Garifuna singer and musician from Punta Gorda, Belize. He is often credited with popularizing paranda, a style of traditional Garifuna music, and is considered to have been one of the most talented musicians of the genre.

Culture of Belize

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Index of Belize-related articles Wikimedia list article

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The Lebeha Drumming Center was established in 2002 by Jabbar Lambey and Dorothy Pettersen, in Hopkins, Belize. Hopkins is a small coastal Garifuna community in the Stann Creek District of southern Belize. The center exists with the goals of keeping Garifuna music alive, passing traditional music along to young people in the community, and sharing music with visitors to Hopkins. The center’s focus is on traditional percussion music, though guitars have been donated and are also played.

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Aurelio Martínez, professionally known as Aurelio, is a Honduran musician and politician. He is a singer, percussionist, and guitarist known for his Garifuna music and is considered a Cultural Ambassador of the Garifuna people. According to the Guardian, he became the leading Garifuna performer after the death of musician Andy Palacio.

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Rosita Baltazar Belizean choreographer and dancer

Rosita Baltazar was a Belizean choreographer, dancer, dance instructor and founding assistant director of the Belize National Dance Company. In 2004, she was awarded the Lord Rhaburn Music Award as a dance ambassador and in 2009 she received the Chatoyer Recognition Award from the National Garifuna Council of Belize for her efforts at preserving Garifuna culture.

Paranda is a music originated in Honduras and dance tradition which utilizes rhythmic ostinatos in duple meter. Similar to punta, the paranda is a slower rhythm than punta and reflects Spanish influences. Traditionally, the guitar is played in paranda and not in punta. and its melodies are soulful lamentations.

Sofía Blanco is a Garifuna singer from Guatemala, widely recognized for her talent and efforts to promote the cultural traditions of her people. She has been a featured singer on several albums of Garifuna music, and has toured internationally with the Belizean group Garifuna Collective and Garifuna Women's performance band Umalali, one of the groups selected for performances at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

References

  1. Broughton, Simon; Ellingham, Mark, eds. (2000). World Music: The Rough Guide. Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific. 2. Rough Guides. p. 326. ISBN   1-85828-636-0 via Google Books.
  2. 1 2 Broughton, Simon; Ellingham, Mark, eds. (2000). World Music: The Rough Guide. Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific. 2. Rough Guides. p. 325. ISBN   1-85828-636-0 via Google Books.
  3. Gordon, Andrew (2017). Agents of Change in Bullet Tree Falls: How a Village in Belize Responded to Influences of Globalization. Cengage Learning. p. 3. ISBN   978-1-133-60449-5 via Google Books.
  4. "The marimba music plays on in Benque Viejo del Carmen". The Guardian (Belize) . January 15, 2015. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  5. Stevenson, Robert; Chamorro, Arturo (2001). "Maya music". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians .
  6. 1 2 Slukich, Patricia (October 28, 2018). "El brukdown: música del Caribe para melómanos". Los Andes (Argentine newspaper) (in Spanish). Retrieved May 1, 2019.