Garifuna music

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Garifuna music is a type of music found in Central America, primarily on the Caribbean coast of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

The Garifuna (/ɡəˈrɪfʉnə/ gə-RIF-uu-nə; pl. Garinagu in Garifuna) are descendants of West African, Central African, Island Carib, and Arawak people.

Garifuna music and dance are closely related. The main traditional instruments are drums and maracas or shakas.[1]

Drums play an important role in Garifuna music. The two principle Garifuna instruments are single-headed drums known as the Primero and Segunda. The Primero, or the lead tenor drum, is the smaller of the two. The drums are made from mahogany or mayflower wood with deerskin hides. They are tuned by ropes on the sides and are then placed in the sun. The Primero drum is also called the male drum because it has been birthed from inside the larger female, carved from the same log. The Primero drummer and lead singer, or Gayusa, directs the musical changes, shows the greatest virtuosity and calls the songs for the others' response. The drums are played by hand and the trick is to be able to play fast while keeping the tone strong. The shakas contain seeds from a fruit tree inside a calabash gourd. Turtle shells have been incorporated more recently for percussion, strapped around the player's neck and struck with wooden mallets.[2]

Songs and singing permeate just about every facet of Garifuna life. As a consequence, there is a wide variety of songs covering every mood, and circumstance imaginable. There are certain types of songs that are associated with work, some with play, some with dance and some that are reserved for prayer or ritual use.[3]

Two main Garifuna genres are Punta and Paranda.[4]

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. 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. [5]

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.[citation needed]

In 2001, Garifuna music, dance, and language was proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.[6]


  1. ^ "Garifuna Music and Dance". National Garifuna Council of Belize. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Michael Stone. "400 years of fury, 400 years of sound". Roots World. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Language, Dance and Music of the Garifuna". UNESCO Culture Sector. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 

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