Paranda: The Spanish Influenced Garifuna  Music 

Paranda: The Spanish Influenced Garifuna  Music

Garifuna Arts & Culture Appreciation Month in NYC

By José Francisco Ávila
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Paranda is one of the fundamental Garifuna Rhythms, as well as one of the popular genres along with Punta Rock. The need for improvisation and adaptability as the Garifuna musicians have strived to meet the musical needs of the community, has resulted in the fusion of the Traditional Garifuna Music with other genres; such is the case with Paranda.

Paranda entered the Garifuna Music repertoire during the nineteenth Century, after they arrived in Honduras where they encountered the acoustic guitar and incorporated elements of Latin American and Spanish rhythms into their music very.

An interesting aspect of the genre is the spelling of its name with just one r, instead of the traditional Spanish word Parranda. My explanation is that Garifunas arrived to Honduras speaking Garifuna, English and French. Therefore, they had to learn the Spanish language, it is difficult for Spanish learners to “roll the tongue” to pronounce the double r.

Parranda originated as a caroling music at Christmastime and is strongly linked to Latin America. Though still played at Christmastime, paranda is now played year round as secular entertainment. In Honduras, traditional paranda music was largely performed around Christmas time, when singers and guitarists (collectively known as the parranderos) traveled from house to house in the community serenading with guitars. In exchange for the entertainment, paranderos were traditionally given food and drink. I remember this Garifuna tradition growing up in Honduras as a child and spending Christmas with my grandmother in the Garifuna Village of Cristales.

The first recordings of Paranda were included in the Album “The Black Caribs of Honduras” produced by Doris Stone and recorded by Peter Kite Smith for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings / Folkways Records in 1952. The album includes two paranda songs, which were recorded   in Travesia, Honduras. The first song is “Nitu Chila” (Click here to listen), a traditional song that was subsequently recorded by various artists, including Eduardo Ballesteros with Los Satelites de Honduras (Click here to listen). The other song is a classic which refers to a girl named Rosita (Click here to listen) and has also been recorded by many Garifuna artists under the tittle “Fiura”, (Click here to listen).  Both songs featured gentle strumming with solo singing and maracas.

The liner notes by Doris Stone, is the first written mention of guitar-accompanied music in 1953. Stone, who was working in Trujillo and Travesia, Honduras,  wrote, “The Black Caribs call this type of song a parrandatinu, a word taken from the Spanish parranda signifying “spree.” This type of song however is better interpreted in English as a serenade. Both the idea of the serenade as well as the instruments used, the guitars, are borrowed from their Spanish-American neighbors” .

In 1982, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings / 1982 Folkways Records released the album Traditional Music of the Garifuna (Black Carib) of Belize, recorded and produced by Carol and Travis Jenkins. The album featured two Paranda songs, including “Fiura”. The credits state that the song was composed by Gabaga Williams and featured the late Andy Palacio on lead vocals and guitar, Eric Arzu on the Primero drum and Isawel Nolberto on the Segundo, vocals by Isabella Mejia, Gene Martinez, Bernadetta Arzu; the song was recorded in Barranco.  A noticeable change is the addition of the Garifuna drums.

The origin of paranda as a Christmastime music performed from house to  house points  further  to  the  Hispanic  influence  on  the  music.  In several Spanish-speaking countries including Venezuela and Puerto Rico there is also caroling at Christmas known as  “parranda.”

Paranda entered the Garifuna Music repertoire during the nineteenth Century after they arrived in Honduras where they encountered the acoustic guitar and incorporated elements of Latin American and Spanish rhythms into their music.

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