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Garifuna music is a rich and creative amalgam of all the cultural traditions to which the Garifuna are heir.
In addition to the Amerindian and Africa elements early French, Spanish and English folk music contributed to the musical heritage. Other Afro-Caribbean peoples such as Haitians, Jamaicans and Barbadians have also contributed the Garifuna music and dances. Songs, dances, mimes, plays, processions, storytelling and poetry make up the braches of Garifuna performing arts.
Music accompanies all sorts of activities and song dance may erupt spontaneously while working in the kitchen at the farm or at sea. More often large groups of Garinagu unite at holidays. family social events and religious occasions wherever the drums gather them the audience as active as the dancers and drummers.
These are made of hollowed hardwood such as Mahogany of Mayflower and skins prepared of the peccary deer or sheep.
Drums are an important part of the Garifuna music. There are two drums used:
1. The primero
2. The Segunda
Along with the drums are the sisera: gourd shakers(shaka) made from the gourd tree, special seeds and hardwood handles and also turtle shells and knee rattles.
The following are a few examples of the different Garifuna dances:
1. Punta : the most popular dance performed at wakes, holidays, parties and others social events.
2. Hungu-hungu: a circular dance which is a secular version of the sacred dance of the Dugu.
3. Combination: an exciting alternation of Punta and Hungu-hungu rhythms.
4. Wanaragua: also known as John Canoe; a masked dance once performed throughout the Caribbean at Christmas time, one of the few events during the year when the slaves were fee to dance and party for an extended period time. Dressed in fanciful headdresses, knee rattles and in white-face, John Canoe dancers would visit the houses of their masters and receive food and drink in return for riotous entertainment. In Belize and other areas of the Garifuna domain, parties of John Canoe dancers roam from the house yard to house yard, scaring children and collecting payments during the Christmas season. This custom has died out in the rest of the Caribbean. Wanaragua masks were once made of basketry but are now cleverly constructed of metal screen and painted with a stylized face, either male or female. Some costumes include a skirt by men and danced in a thoroughly African style.
5. Abaimahani: This semi-scared women's song is using without instrumental accompaniment. Standing in lines, linked by their little fingers, women gesture rhythmically to a musical form of irregular meter. This song type is clearly derived from the Carib Indian heritage of the Garifuna and is closely related to many Amerindian and Siberian song styles.
6. Matamuerte: The mime dance depicts a group of people finding a body along the beach and poking it to see if the person is alive, perhaps with too much enthusiasm.
7. Laremuna Wadaguman: Men's work songs, usually sung when men work cooperatively at a strenuous task, for example, chopping down a large tree or hauling logs down river and out onto the beach in order to make sailing dories of canoes.
8. Gunjai: A graceful dignified social dance in which each man dances with each woman in turn.
9. Charikanari: In this mimed dance, a hunter meets up with a cave man and a cow.
10. Sambai: After a short salute from the drum, each dancer jumps into the circle
display some fancy footwork.
11. Eremuna Egi: Sung and composed by women for accompanying the tedious work
of grating the manioc root to make cassava bread.
12. Chumba: A highly accented polyrhythmic song danced by soloists with great
individualized style. this performance includes a wide range of Garifuna music,
some of which is rapidly disappearing in many countries.
13. Paranda-a medium paste rhythmic dance ; danced by a couple.
15. Punta Rock-a revolutionized genre of punta ;faster version of the punta.
16. Teremuna Iigilisi-Hymns
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