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Music and Art

Garifuna Music Artists

From colonial days, music and dance have been an essential part of the Creole culture. Drum-led dancing was a major part of Christmas and other celebrations in Creole communities. A style of music called brukdown originated from the all night brams thrown by Creole families that focuses both on social commentary and hijinks. This music and the party associated with it are on the decline as youths adopt the culture of the outside world. Other favorite pastimes of the Creoles are story telling, particularly of the trickster spider Anansi, and construction of handicrafts.

Andy Palacio, Aziatic, Leroy Young, Mohubub, Paul Nabor, Titiman Flores, Pen Cayetano, Calypso Rose.

Garifuna Music

Some of the most fascinating and rhythmic music in Central America is found in the Garifuna communities spread along the Caribbean coast of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. The Garifuna musicians that preserve and create their own distinct music share both a common Awarak-based language and many dances.

Punta
is the original dance that expresses a sexual dialogue between male and female dancers who attempt to outdo each other with unique stylized movements. Punta is characterized by rapid shaking of the buttocks and is performed at social gatherings and during all-night wakes. The music involves responsorial singing that is accompanied with drums playing traditional rhythms, calabash rattles and occasionally conch-shell trumpets. Song texts are almost exclusively composed by women, commenting on male infidelity and other unacceptable behavior as well as typical challenges that affect an individual or family.

Punta Rock
is the contemporary version of the traditional Punta. The painter and musician Pen Cayetano is considered the founder of Punta Rock in Belize in the early 1980s. He called the music “Punta Rock” because it is faster than the traditional dance-song style. In contrast to the original music, Punta Rock bands include an electric bass guitar, a synthesized keyboard, and a drum machine. Traditionally, Punta Rock songs are composed and performed by men. The movements associated with Punta Rock are provocative adaptations of the traditional Punta dance. Punta Rock is the most popular dance and music in Belize. Although the Garinagu make up less than 7% of Belize’s population Punta Rock has to a large extent become an expression of Belize’s music and dance. Supa G, Lloyd and Reckless, and the Punta Rebels are a few of the modern stars of the genre.

Paranda
is both a rhythm and a genre of music. The basic rhythm can be heard in Garifuna traditional drumming styles that harkens back to St. Vincent and West Africa. Paranda itself became a genre in the 19th century, shortly after the Garifuna arrived in Honduras. Here, the Garifuna encountered Latin music, incorporated the acoustic guitar which is how Paranda acquired its touch of Latin and Spanish rhythms. It is performed solely on acoustic instruments, namely the guitar, Garifuna drums, shakers, and turtle shells.

Garifuna Art

The Garifuna culture has fostered many talented painters, musicians and craftsmen. Art and handicraft play an important part in the documentation and preservation of the colorful and unique Garifuna culture. The drum- or basket makers traditional handicraft tells an important part of the Garifuna story. This is one of the reasons it is so important to pass on handicraft skills to coming generations. Similarly, the artists paintings document life of the Garinagu through times.

Benjamin Nicholas, Greg Palacio and Pen Cayetano are all famous painters. Examples of skilled craftsmen are Austin Rodriques (Dangriga) who makes traditional Garifuna drums and Victor Nicholas (Barranco) who makes traditional Garifuna baskets.