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Garifuna music is quite different from the music of the rest of Central America. The most famous form is punta. Its associated musical style, which has the dancers move their hips from right to left in a circular motion. An evolved form of traditional music, still usually played using traditional instruments, punta has seen some modernization and electrification in the 1970s; this is called punta rock. Traditional punta dancing is consciously competitive. Artists like Pen Cayetano helped innovate modern punta rock by adding guitars to the traditional music, and paved the way for later artists such as Andy Palacio, Children of the Most High and Black Coral. Punta was popular across the region, especially in Belize, by the mid-1980s, culminating in the release of Punta Rockers in 1987, a compilation featuring many of the genre's biggest stars.
Other forms of Garifuna music and dance include: hungu-hungu, combination, wanaragua, abaimahani, matamuerte, laremuna wadaguman, gunjai, sambai, charikanari, eremuna egi, paranda, berusu, teremuna ligilisi, arumahani, and Mali-amalihani. Punta is the most popular dance in Garifuna culture. It is performed around holidays, as well as at parties and other social events. Punta lyrics are usually composed by the women. Chumba and hunguhungu are a circular dance in a three-beat rhythm, which is 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.
Garifuna drums play a very important role in Garifuna music. There are primarily two types of drums used:
1. The Primero (tenor drum)
2. The Segunda (bass drum)
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.
Paranda music developed soon after the Garifunas arrival in Central America. The music is instrumental and percussion-based. The music was barely recorded until the 1990s, when Ivan Duran of Stonetree Records began the Paranda Project.
In contemporary Belize there has been a resurgence of Garifuna music, popularized by musicians such as Andy Palacio, Mohobub Flores and Aurelio Martinez. These musicians have taken many aspects from traditional Garifuna music forms and fused them with more modern sounds, described as a mixture of punta rock and paranda. One great example is Andy Palacio's album Watina, and Umalali: The Garifuna Women's Project, both released on the Belizean record label Stonetree Records.
In the Garifuna culture, there is another dance called Dugu, which is a ritual done for a death in the family to pay respect to the loved one. In 2001, Garifuna music was proclaimed one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO, along with Garifuna language and dance.
- "Language, Dance and Music of the Garifuna". UNESCO Culture Sector. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
- Andy Placio itzcaribbean
- Garifuna Women's Project
- Stonetree Records
- Warasa Garifuna Drum School
- Listen to The Garifuna Music