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Gaita is a style of Venezuelan folk music from Maracaibo in Zulia State. According to Joan Corominas, it may come from gaits, the Gothic word for "goat", which is the skin generally used for the membrane of the furro instrument. Other instruments used in gaita include maracas, cuatro, charrasca and tambora (Venezuelan drum). Song themes range from humorous and love songs to protest songs.
The style became popular throughout Venezuela in the 1960s, and it fused with other styles such as salsa and merengue in the 1970s. It is not to be confused with the gaita escocesa also known as simply gaita, which is Spanish for bagpipes.
Famous Gaita groups include Cardenales del Éxito, Rincón Morales, Estrellas del Zulia, Barrio Obrero, Gran Coquivacoa, Saladillo, Universidad de la Gaita, Koquimba, Melody Gaita, Maracaibo 15,and many others. The group Guaco started as a Gaita group but now plays a unique and distinct rhythm influenced by many Afro-Caribbean and Iberian rhythms including Gaita Zuliana, Tamborera, Joropo, Son Montuno, Tamunangue, Copla, Chinmangele, Guaracha, Vals, Merengue, Rumba, Fandango, Buleria, Flamenco, and many other.
Trinidad and Tobago has adopted gaita and calls it parang with some variation. Trinidad shares a common history of Spanish colonisation with Venezuela and there have been close relationships between the two countries with many aspects of shared culture. Since Trinidad shares a history of oil exploration & production with Venezuela, many early workers within the Venezuelan oil industry came from Trinidad and this has stimulated many interactions between the peoples. The Taíno people from Venezuela first settled Trinidad 10,000 years ago before sea level rise further divided Trinidad from mainland Venezuela.
There are many types of Gaita.
- Furro Gaitas
- Folk Gaita (disappeared)
- Contemporary Gaita
- Pop Gaita
- Romantic Gaita
- Other types, from Zulia
- Santa Lucía Gaita
- Tambora Gaita (Tamborera)
- Perijanera Gaita
- Carruyo, L. (2005), "La gaita Zuliana: Music and the politics of protest in Venezuela", Latin American Perspectives 32 (3), pp. 98–111