The songs and dances of Venezuela, of which this record gives an idea, bear traces of various different cultures but are nevertheless undeniably original. The population who settled in this northern part of South America centuries ego have since been swelled by European (mianly Spanish) and African migrations, each of which has contributed, in its own way and according to its degree of local preponderance, to the expression of a characteristic culture.
The recordings on this album are arranged in a regional order, but it must be borne in mind that the cultural evolution of the various regions of Venezuela has been influenced by two decisive factors: the culture of the groups who have settled here since the Spanish conquest and the particular to which these populations have had to adapt themselves.
Cowherd's sang, recorded in Elorza, Apure State, in 1964.
In the llanos vast plains where the herds are led from posture to posture to avoid the rivers which rise in the rainy season, a cowherd sings:
"We must keep walking,
See how far we have to go..”.
The yodelling effect is very characteristic.
Milker's sang, recorded in Elorza, Apure State, in 1964.
In this stock-raising region the milker encourage the cow which is about to be milked with this song :
"Messy creature !
Come here, lazy girl
Came along — your child is dying of hunger !"
The familiar voice calling the cow is recognized by the calf, who runs up to receive its shore of the mille,
Tracks 3, 4 and 5: Joropo.
The joropo originated in the llanos and neighbouring states, but is now one of Venezuela's national dances. The rhythmic music which accompanies the steps of the dancers is played on a harp, maracas and a cuatro, a small four-stringed guitar. The tune is gay and lively. The principal musical forms of the joropo are know as Pasaje. Corrida and Golpe.
Pasaje joropo, recorded in Elorza, Apure State, in 1964.
Pasaje apurena is on improvised song performed by two alternating voices. The opening words are:
"How sad is the dawn".
Corrida joropo, recorded in Elorza, Apure State, in 1964.
The subject of this Corrida is typical of this particular form ; it concerns the risks that people run in the plain when business deals are under was:
"One day, very early in the morning, Early in the morning at eight o'clock, They set out for Brisera..."
Golpe joropo, recorded in Barinas, Barinas State, in 1968.
A melody pattern in the ancient style is the starting point for a musical improvisation; this is the Golpe pajarillo or "fleydgling's golpe which begins:
"Ah, fly, fly little bird,
Take wing, if you avant ta fly away...
The repercussion, a sort of variation on a melodic cell repeated over and over by the musicians at some lenght, is very typical.
Tracks 6, 7 and 8
On the coast, with its torrid climate and tropical vegetation huge coconut graves where the "year's bread", the fruit of a kind of chestnut tree with magnificent huge leaves, and cacao trees — in the States of Miranda, the Federal District and Yaracuy, live the descendants of slaves whoobtained their freedom to mix with the white inhabitants without any discrimination on accourt of their colour. These people still make their tradition& drums and dance in honour of Midsummer Day, just as they did to celebrate the winter solstice.
Song with quitiplas, recorded in Curiepe, Miranda State, in 1964.
Quitiplas are four bamboo tubes; each one is an internodal segment of a bamboo cane. The Iargest tube is called macho (male) and the sma I lest hembra (female) or prima. Each performer bangs the ground rhythmically with his tube and alternately strikes the opering in the tube with his right hand. A third musicien tops the other two quitiplas one against the other and beats the ground with them. The difference in size of the tubes provides variations in pitch. Soloists and a chorus alternate and the sound of maracas is added to the percussion of the quitiplas.
Golpe de tambor grande, recorded in Curiepe, Miranda State, in 1964.
The ensemble recorded here consists of two drums and maracas. The leading instrument is a mina, ci giant drum (at least 2 metres long and 30 centimetres in diameter); one end rests on the ground and the other is supported by two crossed sticks, at a level with the players. The body of the instrument vibrates as well as the skin.
The Curbata is a small drum on legs, which a third musician uses to mark o regular beat, like a metronome, independent of the rhythm played on the mina.
The voices of various soloists alternating with a chorus of participants and dancers are associated with the drum rhythms; this is typical of the African features of Venezuela music.
Golpe de tambor redondo, recorded in Curiepe, Miranda State, in 1964.
The tambores redondos are three tubular double-headed drums. The musiciens strike the end held between their legs, the other end rests on the ground. The three drums (carie, cruzao and pujao) are unequal in length (varying from 93 to 96 centimetres) and in diameter (13 to 15 centimetres) and consequently produce sounds of different pitch. The slenderest of the three drums, the corrio, "advances", to use the terni employed by the musiciens, and -colis- the others. The voices of soloists and o chorus alternate, following an intervallic movement characteristic of Venezuelan music of African origin.
Decima de tono, recorded in Camunare, Yarocuy State, in 1966.
Throughout nearly the whole of Venezuela including Caracas, ceremonies dedicated to the Cross are held each May. The decima de fana is sung during the night-long ceremonies conducted before the alter of a house situated in front of the Cross. This melody in European style is sung by male voices, accompanied by the cuatros described above and cincos, which are similar small guitars with five strings instead of four. The text refers to "the cross covered with flowers".
Tono de Rompida, recorded in Cojedes State in 1968.
In the central regions of Venezuela the religious observances held in May are accompanied by a variety of songs, some of which show the existence of a very ancient polyphony of oral tradition. Such is the tono de rompida heard here, intoned by three voices a capella with a background of croaking frogs. The development of the religious theme is interrupted byAynana!The centrai voice, or guia, intones the leading melody with a falsetto or contrato (contralto) voice superposed and in the lower register a tenor sings either in faux-bourbon or, at times, with a certain liberty.
Tono en marusa, recorded in Cojedes State in 1968.
The marusa is a sang for two voices capella: it stems from an ancient tradition like the descant. The subject is religious, as the following verse indicates:
-Lord God, Who left us
The sign of Your Passion,
In the Holy shroud
You were buried, Oh Lord...-.
-Alas" is then repeated as a refrain.
Galeron, recorded in Porlamar, Nuev Esparta State, in 1959.
The galeron and the polo (see following tracé) are important features of the Spanisi heritage of western Venezuela, a region c sunny beaches and plentiful fishing. Th. galeron has a traditional religious text:
"The Virgin and St.-Joseph
After their wedding
To escape martyrdom".
The melody develops freely on an Andaluisan syncopated rhythm provided by a mandoline, cuatro and guitar.
Polo, recorded in Carupano, Sucre State, ii 1964,
The Venezuelan polo, with its coloratura ( ending in a cadence on the firth degree belongs to a Spanish tradition, though no necessarily that of the celebrated Andalusian polo. Two male voices, alternating or ii counterpart, ore accompanied by a mandoline with four double strings and a cuatro
Aguinaldo, recorded in Cumana, Sucre State, in 1964.
The birth of the infant Jesus is celebrated throughout Venezuela at the end of the year. Joyous bands of young people, known as aguinalderos, wander through towns and villages singing and accompanying themselves on numerous instruments: cuatro, maracas, furruco (or zambomba), jingles and drums.
The aguinaldo presented here is typical of western Venezuela: the solo voices, including one female voice, alternate and the chorus replies. A mandoline, cuatro and maracas accompany the song.
Bambuco, recorded in Caracas, in 1958.
Romanticism is on the wane in Venezuela and the echo of the serena des sung by the inhabitants of the Andes is gradually fading away. Tanks to Andrès Cisneros from Caracas, however, we can still hear an example of this form: his voice and guitar interpret this bambuco, a piece of popular lyricism in 5/8 time:
"From the nascent savannah
Is born an opaline jewel
And o Carolina heron
Breaks the spectral silence...".
Golpe larense, recorded in Curarigua. Lara State, in 1966.
Lara State, where this golpe was recorded, is a region of sugar-cane. Dancing and singing take during secular and religious festivals. Here, a duet of Iwo male voices is backed by cincos, cuatros, maracas together with a small drum and a marimbola, a sanza with three plucked metal keys. The vocal style, performed in parallel thirds, and the harmonic treatment of the choral section, are both very unusual.
Seis par derecho, recorded in Barinas, Barinas State, in 1968.
The bandola players of Barinas are justly famed. Their instruments (of the lute family, played with a plectrum) have only four strings, but seem ta have many more when in expert hands. Here a single musician. Anselmo Lopez, obtains the most varied effects from his bandola: he is accompanied by a cuatro and maracas.
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