|Music of Haiti|
|Media and performance|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||La Dessalinienne|
Originating in Haïti, rara is a form of festival music used for street processions, typically during Easter Week. The music centers on a set of cylindrical bamboo trumpets called vaksen (which may also be made of metal pipes), but also features drums, maracas, güiras or güiros (a percussion instrument), and metal bells, as well as sometimes also cylindrical metal trumpets which are made from recycled metal, often coffee cans. The vaksen-s perform repeating patterns in hocket and often strike their instruments rhythmically with a stick while blowing into them. In the modern day, standard trumpets and saxophones may also be used. The genre though predominantly Afro-based has some Taino Amerindian elements to it such as the use of güiros and maracas.
The songs are always performed in Haitian Kreyòl and typically celebrate the African ancestry of the Afro-Haïtian masses. Vodou is often implemented through the procession. The genre was imported to the Dominican Republic and is now an integral part of the Afro-Dominican music scene, where it is known colloquially as Gaga. In the Dominican Republic, the music is often played by the Afro-Dominican population as a cultural tribute to their African ancestors in the same manner as their counterparts in Haiti. Rara in Haiti is often used for political purposes, with candidates commissioning songs praising them and their campaigns. Rara lyrics also often address difficult issues, such as political oppression or poverty. Consequently, rara groups and other musicians have been banned from performing and even forced into exile—most notably, folk singer Manno Charlemagne who later returned to Haïti and was elected mayor of Port-au-Prince in the 1990s.
"The Rara festival most likely developed during the period of colonial slavery, when enslaved Africans and Afro-Creoles in the colony of Saint-Domingue were said to parade with drums and instruments on Easter Sunday. There is also some evidence that troupes of maroons marched with drummers, horns, and singers, similarly to Rara."
- McAlister, Elizabeth. Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and its Diaspora. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Book on Rara in Haiti and New York City.
- Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Forthcoming[verification needed]
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