Given the beginning in Uruguay of the longest celebrated carnival “Carnaval” holiday season in the world (40 days) I couldn’t help myself but put together this little production accentuating the uniqueness of these celebrations. With its contagious drum sounds “cuerdas”, characteristic dance movements, intensity and sheer sensuality, nothing beats this Candombe del Uruguay spectacle!
Enjoy the show!
I must thank several people (see below) for their generosity with their photography and videography towards this project, without which it would not have seen the light:
Elements Used in this Production:
– La Tango Candombe,
– @ http://www.Flickr.com Silvilila, Libertinos, Vince alongi, PasteldeChoclo
– Emilio Artteaga @ http://www.vimeo.com
Tronar de Tambores – Lonjas de Cuareim (remix)
History and Background:
Candombe is a musical genre that has its roots in the African Bantu, and is proper of Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. Uruguayan Candombe is the most practiced and spread internationally and has been recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Originated from the influences of African music, was developed on both banks of the Rio de la Plata because of the large influx of slaves during the colonial period and well into the nineteenth century, and with the republican form living on both banks. Over the twentieth century Uruguayan Candombe was gradually leaving to be a unique feature of the Afro-Uruguayans to become a feature of the Uruguayan cultural identity.
The music of candombe is performed by a group of drummers called a cuerda. The barrel-shaped drums, or tamboriles, have specific names according to their size and function: chico (small, high timbre, marks the tempo), repique (medium, syncopation and improvisation) and piano (large, low timbre, melody). An even larger drum, called bajo or bombo (very large, very low timbre, accent on the fourth beat), was once common but is now declining in use. A cuerda at a minimum needs three drummers, one on each part. A full cuerda will have 50-100 drummers, commonly with rows of seven or five drummers, mixing the three types of drums. A typical row of five can be piano-chico-repique-chico-piano, with the row behind having repique-chico-piano-chico-repique and so on to the last row.
Tamboriles are made of wood with animal skins that are rope-tuned or fire-tuned minutes before the performance. They are worn at the waist with the aid of a shoulder strap called a talig or talí and played with one stick and one hand.
A key rhythmic figure in candombe is the clave (in 3-2 form). It is played on the side of the drum, a procedure known as “hacer madera” (literally, “making wood”).