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Ibimeni - Garifuna traditional music from Guatemala

 


Ibimeni - Garifuna traditional music from Guatemala
Sub Rosa SR 273 - 2008

Tracks:

01. Wadabuaguei marine snail trumpet call 0'50
02. Aguhuya nidugueñu / my family has gone / hüngünhügü 2'50
03. Vinu niguirayali / i'll quit liquor / parranda with guitar 4'31
04. Chagachaga / pororo 4'55
05. Nunsu garifunaou /spoken word 0'49
06. Adari labugana / Livingston boyfriend / parranda 2'14
07. Ahurahali wadunari / the water has boiled / chumba 3'00
08. Wala diru lumala / the cricket has sung / abeimahanei 4'13
09. Came beyedana / why did you lie to me ? / punta 3'34
10. Tari edna golu / Edna's gold tooth / pororo 4'08
11. Chülüya ñunsu / news have arrived / hüngünhügü 4'09
12. Wasanriaha / union / religious chant 2'26
13. Nati Conde / brother Conde / punta rock 3'10
14. Baroumuga / sleep / lullaby 2'18
15. Lidan misiñeba / when someone doesn't love you / parranda with guitar 3'03
16. Monderubadina hama hara / i won't join them / parranda 4'18
17. Laguñeda / it's getting dark / wanaragua 3'14
18. Dodo Fafa / sleep Fafa / lullaby 1'03
19. San Francisco / processional march 2'34
20. Naluwahañadibu inina / i'm looking for you / abeimahanei 4'01
21. Bonus track / Wanaragua 2'47

Produced and compiled by Juan Carlos Barrios. Photographs: Claudio Bianchi. CD Text: Alfonso Arrivillaga Cortés

·IBIMENI: Garifuna traditional music from Guatemala (Sub Rosa 2009) 

“Ibimeni”, a term associated with childhood and youth, means “honey” or “sweetness” in Garifuna.  “Ibimeni” is also the name of a group of Garifuna musicians and dancers from Livingston, Guatemala, who interpret their traditional sounds in this album. This collection includes lullabies, festive chants, processional marches, and songs of religion and labor.

Livingston is a small region located on the Caribbean coast at the river mouth of Rio Dulce, Guatemala.  It is accessible only by boat or plane. This isolation allows the conservation of many cultural elements, such as music and dance. 

A few vinyl copies of these rare recordings were released in Guatemala, and are nearly impossible to obtain today. Since these songs were recorded back in 1990, the music of the Garifuna people has undergone popularization and is now being performed in concert hall settings. Ibimeni returns the music to the villages and beaches of the Caribbean where it originated and gives you an opportunity to hear it the way it has been sung and played for the last two hundred years.

Like all good field recordings this one has created a record of a sound and preserved it for future generations. 

***

The Garifuna musicians & dancers from Livingston, Guatemala. Ibimeni a term associated with childhood and youth, means honey or sweetness in Garifuna. Ibimeni is also the name of a group of Garifuna musicians and dancers from Livingston, Guatemala, who interpret their traditional sounds in this album. This collection includes lullabies, festive chants, processional marches, and songs of religion and labor. Livingston is a small region located on the Caribbean coast at the river mouth of Rio Dulce, Guatemala. it is accessible only by boat or airplane. this isolation allows the conservation of many cultural elements, such as music and dance.

Ethnogenesis and location of Garinagu

A series of villages inhabited by the Garifuna (plural, Garinagu) are located throughout the coasts of the Gulf of Honduras, (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and the Laguna de Perlas -Nicaragua-). The Garinagu are the afro-amerindian people with the most transnational presence in Central America. With a particular ethnogenesis, produced by the encounter of Caribs and Arawaks in the Lesser Antilles, they remained throughout the conquest period, due to the race mixing with black slaves. Constituted as "Maroons", as a clear resistance against the English, they were the protagonists of the so called "Caribbean war" during 1795 and 1796 in Saint Vincent Island, from where they were defeated and later deported to Central America in April 1797. After being abandoned in Roatán (Bay islands) soon they negotiated with the Spanish crown to be transferred to Puerto Trujillo, in continental lands, where they started to scatter to the east and west. They established their own lands through the edge of the coast of the Honduras Gulf. Halfway through the twentieth century they began their migration to the United States. Today it is hard to explain and understand the configuration of social and cultural relations of Garinagu without incorporating the relationship that they hold with their ancestors.

Garifuna's music and the dancing expressions

Music and dancing -vehicles of religiosity- are central in the Garifuna culture. This musical expression is based on the group of two, three, and even four drums "garaon" (primera -the high pitched- and segunda -the lowest-) and sonajas "sisiras" that interpret rhythms accompanied by a solo singer and a choir that repeats a verse. The relationship between the primera drum-rolls and the dancer is that the dancer responds to the movements made by the drum as if it was a dialogue.
Jointly to the polyrhythmic universe of Garifuna drums, they cultivate another intense field of musical expressions that plays an important role in society, most of the time of ludic and recreational character.

PRESS / CARIBBEAN: REVIEWS

AN AWAKENED INTEREST IN THE UNIQUE MUSIC OF A SMALL CENTRAL AMERICAN COMMUNITY HAS LED TO THIS FASCINATING RE-RELEASE OF TRADITIONAL GARIFUNA MUSIC FROM THE GULF OF HONDURAS

The late lamented Andy Palacio and producer Ivan Duran are the men to thank for bringing a sensitively rendered modernity to the music of a people who are spread over Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize as a result of their ancestors' deportation over a century ago from St Vincent in the Caribbean, from which they'd arrived via a 17th Century slave ship which crashed off the coast of the island. The Duran-produced releases Watina and Umalali (on the Cumbancha label) were based on the Garifuna songs of Palacio's home country of Belize, and the roots of that music is laid bare here in the traditional songs of neighbouring Guatemala.

The whole range of Garifuna music is here - to the now familiar raw, appealingly off-centre female call-and-response vocals and loping reggae-lite rhythms, are added rocking horn-led "bandas" songs, deeply expressive liturgical mantras (there's a strong thread of Catholicism amongst the Garifuna people) and oodles and oodles of polyrhythmic dance music, the West Africa-meets-Caribbean-mento punta style being the most common.
There isn't as much acoustic guitar on Ibimeni as there is on Watina (although when it arrives, it's usually twanging good fun) but apart from that, you can draw a direct line between this and those acclaimed albums.
It's tuneful, rhythmic, life-affirming stuff and redolent of the unique Afro-Amerindian culture in which it is steeped. If you're sufficiently intrigued by the Cumbancha albums to want to seek out their rawer antecedents, here it is in all its raw, rootsy glory, a recording to make the late great Andy Palacio proud to have opened the door to its release.
Con Murphy
Sunday 30 November 2008

***

It’s no secret that regions of Central and South America have intact, ethnic minority groups, people whose ancestors have no connection to Spain and who often find themselves tucked away in sections of the landscapes where travel is rugged or where a body of water drapes a barrier. Because such places as Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Belize share Caribbean coastline, it’s only natural that those populations reflect influence from the African diaspora found in that sea’s island chain. Musically, Costa Rica’s main port, Limon, is known for its own take on Calypso. Panama is a patch quilt of Cumbias, funk and the local, African-influenced tindin. Yet, the 500,000 or so Garifuna minorities stretched from Belize all the way into Nicaragua’s Laguna de Perlas have managed to keep their culture, which arose out of native Caribs mixing with slaves who escaped due to shipwreck or mutiny. They even managed to sustain a mass exodus at the end of the 18th century, when the British drove them out of the Lower Antilles and up into Honduras, where they soon spread out.

The recordings here focus on a traditional music and dance troupe known as Ibimeni, which means "sweetness" in Garifuna, the people who live in Livingston, Guatemala in that country’s small chunk of Caribbean coastline. Recorded in 1990 by ethnomusicologist Alfonso Arrivillaga Cortes, the selections on this disc don’t so much show further proof of West African influence on "Latin" music as they paint an audio portrait of a little known folk music, unbroken, full of fire and incredibly diverse. Perhaps so much of the intensity here is due to the centrality of music to Garifuna culture. Whatever the case, this is without question some of the most infectious music of any kind to be released this year.

By and large, this is vocal and drum music, though horns, guitar and the "marine snail trumpet" also make appearances. The vocals are often choral, with plenty of call and response, not unlike the troupes that populate Southeast Ghana, Togo and Benin, where so much of this music originated. Their voices are slightly nasal and take on a modal spookiness (especially when the guitar appears) that can’t help but place them in Latin America. But there is plenty of room for drones, too. The opening track is a solo, snail trumpet call. "Wala Diru Lamala," or "The Cricket has Sung," is a multi-voiced a capella performance that contains the same monolithic intensity of an old lining hymn from an east Kentucky church. Perhaps the disc’s most gorgeous moment comes in the form of a lullaby. Voices hum in unison, mapping out the melody and tempo before turning to lyrics. It’s as much a call to peace as it is a sedative for the troubled mind.

By Bruce Miller

***

Music Review: Various Artists – Ibimeni: Garifuna Traditional Music from Guatemala

Posted by: Richard Marcus November 21, 2008

Music ethnologists have traveled around the world since the days when wax cylinders were the height of recording technology, collecting examples of music from various cultures. In some instances these recordings have become not only research projects, but records of traditions heading for extinction. Buried in the archives of universities and museums are sound files of everything from Native American healing songs to chants and ritual music from Southern Africa. European encroachment into indigenous peoples' lives and lands and colonial policies of cultural genocide and enforced assimilation ensured that those ancient songs would not be passed along to a new generation and these recordings are all that remains of thousands of years of tradition.

Ironically as technology improved to allow better quality recordings, fewer and fewer cultures remained to be recorded. These field recording techniques have been used in recent years to ensure music that grew out of early North American European and slave cultures is being preserved. While in the United States that has included songs that are as contemporary as the 1930s, in other parts of our hemisphere some of these traditions date back to the 17th century and represent a mingling of imported and native cultures.

Sometime in the 1600s two ships carrying African slaves from Nigeria were shipwrecked off the coast of St. Vincent Island in the Caribbean, then occupied by two tribes of indigenous peoples – the Arawars and the Kalipuna – called the Caribs by Spanish explorers. Initially there was conflict between the escaped slaves and the natives but eventually they settled their differences, intermarried and created a third people who are now called Garifuna. As colonial masters changed the Garifuna were rounded up by the British to be moved to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras. When that in turn was taken from the British by the Spanish, the people were moved again, this time to Trujillo to serve as labourers and farmers.

Garafuna Band.jpgIn 1802 the Spanish shipped some of the people living in Tujillo to Belize to work as woodcutters where they established communities, and gradually more of their people joined them. When Central America achieved independence from Spain, the Garifuna remaining in Tujillo discovered they were now living in Honduras and loyalty to Spain wasn't something their countrymen approved of. This resulted in the mass migration of the people to the communities already established on the coast of Belize.

In spite of their rather harried early existence the Garifuna developed a culture unique to them which emphasizes music, dance, and storytelling and a religion combining Catholicism with African and native beliefs. While many cultures have evolved traditions of dance, music and storytelling, the Garifuna have combined the three elements and refined them significantly so that the music, song, and dance work together to tell various stories. In 1990 Alfonso Arrivillaga Cortes and Byron Sosa visited Garifuna living in Livingston Guatemala to make field recordings, and the results can be heard on a new Sub Rosa release called Ibimeni. The music on this CD was not performed in order to recreate something vanished into the mists of history and barely remembered, it's the sound of a living culture that has somehow survived many hardships and been able to resist assimilation into "civilization".

The rather extensive liner notes break down the different rhythms used in Garifuna music, what they signify, and how they are performed. A group of up to four drums – referred to as garaon, made up of primera (high-pitched) and segunda (low-pitched) instruments – is accompanied by both a solo vocalist and a choir. While the soloist "tells" the story in song, the choir provides emphasis through repitition. Meanwhile dancers respond to the sounds created by the primera to enact the story. Unlike most dances where the dancers become an extension of the rhythm, here they reacting to what the drum "says" as if they were taking part in a conversation.

There are three types of rhythm basic to the music of the Garifuna people: punta, the most common, is used for secular events and some festive occasions; hunguhugu is used specifically for rituals associated with the cult of the ancestors known as Chugu and is accompanied by chants known as Abeimahani; and finally wanaragua is used specifically for a dance that recreates the peoples' battles with the English and is only performed on holidays like Christmas, New Year's Eve and Day, and the Epiphany. Unlike the other dances this is the only one with specific steps and costumes for the dancers, including shell rattles hung from the dancer's knees.

Garifuna Dance.jpgDrums and percussion instruments predominate in the music, and one of the things that struck me most about the music were the similarities with the drumming I've come to associate with Native North Americans. In one religious song, "Wasanriaha", the combination of voices and drums is eerily reminiscent of the sound of a pow-wow drum: a steady heartbeat rhythm accompanied by voices singing near-falsetto chants. Although this is fairly common among the various nations of midwestern North America and has now been adapted by most nations for their pow-wow gatherings, this marked the first time I've heard that distinct combination used by people outside of North America.

During this record you occasionally hear the sound of something called a "marine small trumpet." There's something quite spine-tingling and mournful to the sound, recalling some combination of a conch shell and the sound of a very distant foghorn in the earliest part of the morning. I did notice that its only used in certain puntas and it seemed to depend on the theme. The disc opens with a song that featuring this instrument and the liner notes say the song is known as a "call", and while I don't know what it was originally meant to call, it sounded to me like it was trying to call the day out of the ocean after a particularly foggy night. However, that's probably more my imagination than reality, because if you look at the majority of the song titles – "The Water Has Boiled", "It's Getting Dark", and "Edna's Gold Tooth" – you realize that their music is primarily concerned with day-to-day life:

Like the rhythms, there are also names for the different types of songs and instrumentals performed. Los arruloos (lullabies) and los alabados (Catholic liturgical music) are the two major song types heard on the album. The three instrumental forms are known as la parranda, las bandas, and el pororo and refer to which instruments are performed. The exception is the pororo, as it also refers to a specific type of music played for festivals associated with the Virgin of Guadalupe. "Edna's Gold Tooth", a pororo, is played by a band with high and low drums, the marine snail trumpet, turtle shells (used as a percussion instrument), cymbals, and other drums and follows a beat similar to what you'd hear during Mardi Gras celebrations.

All this description makes the music incredibly structured, but you'd never know listening to it. While there are distinct patterns that the music follows, there is also a wonderful amount of energy and passion expressed by the singers, so even songs from the same grouping don't necessarily sound alike. I only wish there was some way that the dancers could have been incorporated and the recording presented as a DVD so we could experience the material to its fullest.

Since these songs were recorded back in 1990, the music of the Garifuna people has undergone popularization and is now being performed in concert hall settings. Ibimeni returns the music to the villages and beaches of the Caribbean where it originated and gives you an opportunity to hear it the way it has been sung and played for the last two hundred years. Like all good field recordings this one has created a record of a sound and preserved it for future generations. Culture has to evolve in order to survive, but its origins should never be forgotten. Recordings like this one ensure that no matter what happens history won't be washed away by the tide of change. 

http://richardrbmarcus.com/2008/11/music_review_various_musicians.html

****

Vivid documents of the music indigenous to the Garifuna community, recorded live in the field by ethnomusicologist Alfonso Arrivillaga Cortes in 1990. "Ibimeni a term associated with childhood and youth, meaning honey or sweetness in Garifuna. Ibimeni is also the name of a group of Garifuna musicians and dancers from Livingston, Guatemala, who interpret their traditional sounds in this album. this collection includes lullabies, festive chants, processional marches, and songs of religion and labor. Livingston is a small region located on the Caribbean coast at the river mouth of Rio Dulce, Guatemala. it is accessible only by boat or airplane. This isolation allows the conservation of many cultural elements, such as music and dance."

***

Wanaragua More info:

Garifuna musicians and dancers from Livingston, Guatemala. Ibimeni, a term associated with childhood and youth, means honey or sweetness in Garifuna. Ibimeni is also the name of a group of Garifuna musicians and dancers from Livingston, Guatemala, who interpret their traditional sounds on this album. This collection includes lullabies, festive chants, processional marches, and songs of religion and labor. Livingston is a small region located on the Caribbean coast at the mouth of Rio Dulce, Guatemala. It is accessible only by boat or airplane. This isolation allows the conservation of many cultural elements, such as music and dance. Ethnogenesis and location of Garinagu: A series of villages inhabited by the Garifuna (plural, Garinagu) are located throughout the coasts of the Gulf of Honduras, (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and the Laguna de Perlas -- Nicaragua). The Garinagu are the Afro-Amerindian people with the most transnational presence in Central America. With a particular ethnogenesis, produced by the encounter of Caribs and Arawaks in the Lesser Antilles, they remained throughout the conquest period, due to race-mixing with black slaves. Constituted as "Maroons," as a clear resistance against the English, they were the protagonists of the so-called "Caribbean War" during 1795 and 1796 in Saint Vincent Island, from where they were defeated and later deported to Central America in April 1797. After being abandoned in Roatán (Bay Islands), they negotiated with the Spanish crown to be transferred to Puerto Trujillo, in continental lands, where they started to scatter to the east and west. They established their own lands on the edge of the coast of the Honduras Gulf. Halfway through the 20th century, they began their migration to the United States. Music and dancing -- vehicles of religiosity -- are central in the Garifuna culture. This musical expression is based on the group of two, three, and even four drums, garaon (primera -- the high pitched and segunda -- the lowest), and sonajas sisiras that interpret rhythms accompanied by a solo singer and a choir that repeats a verse. The relationship between the primera drum-rolls and the dancer is that the dancer responds to the movements made by the drum as if it were a dialogue. In tandem to the polyrhythmic universe of Garifuna drums, they cultivate another intense field of musical expressions that plays an important role in society, most of the time of ludic and recreational character. 




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