The New Parranda Sound

La Sardina de Naiguatá – ¡Parranda! Venezuelan Carnival Music
La Sardina de Naiguatá

¡Parranda! Venezuelan Carnival Music (Smithsonian Folkways, 2012)

Venezuelan band La Sardina de Naiguatá (The Sardine of Naiguatá) plays a contemporary form of Venezuelan carnival music known as parranda. La Sardina de Naiguatá is a large ensemble, a 13-piece band led by trailblazer Ricardo Díaz. He founded the group 27 years ago in the coastal state of Vargas, Venezuela with the intent to mix traditional Venezuelan parranda music with more diverse and contemporary instrumentation.

Díaz says that traditional parranda had limited possibilities: “It was the traditional instruments, the cuatro (small guitar), furruco (friction drum), a little drum, and güira (gourd rasp), but it lacked power; it was not heard. Our parranda uses electronic instruments that were not traditionally used before.”

La Sardina de Naiguatá uses a trumpet, two trombones, electric bass, and a keyboard. —together these simulate the tres guitar, bass, snare drum, granadero drum, congas, güira, and bell, retaining the joyous improvisation of the traditional style while adding distinct new sounds.

The town of Naiguatá is known for having the largest number of year-round festivals and celebrations in the area. Carnaval (carnival) is one of the most popular events. After the popular Carnival cycle is complete the ceremonial closing known as Entierro de la Sardina (Burial of the Sardine) takes place. The Burial of the Sardine is a popular even found in several Spanish speaking countries. It marks the beginning of Lent and the transition between the licentiousness of Carnival and the spiritual absorption of Holy Week.

During the Burial of the Sardine, a great procession takes place; in which townspeople play widows, doctors, nurses, priests, cardinals and other characters linked to a central theme often associated with current events. It is from this popular ceremony that the group La Sardina de Naiguatá derives its name.

Diaz has been actively participating in The Burial of the Sardine for fifty years. “A platform is made to carry La Sardina (the sardine) which is promenaded around the town,” adds Diaz. “At the end of the day it is ‘buried’ by tossing it into the sea.”

¡Parranda! Venezuelan Carnival Music takes Venezuelan carnival music to the 21st century by adding jazz, salsa and other exciting musical forms as well as modern instrumentation to traditional parranda music.

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