Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Traditional Venezuelan Music

This year, the youth of Salvation Baptist Church in Cabimas treated us to some traditional Venezuelan music. It is probably of African and Indian influence rather than the more tonal European influence that Venezuela also has. To analyze this by Western contemporary music standards, it's in 6/8 time. The bass drum is played with a stick that has small notches in it. You hold the stick on the head of the drum and rub your hand along the notches to produce a light thrumming bass sound. The tenor drum is louder. Interestingly, neither one accents the down beat, but rather plays on the upbeats. If you try to figure out the beats according to these lower drums, you'll get lost. Listen to the upper percussion for downbeats.

Note the melody is not very melodic and the harmony only comes from the small 4-stringed guitar. This produces music that is more chanted than sung. This was an "aha" moment for me. Much of the modern music they like to listen to there resembles rap music, but it's not rap music. I think that is comes from an ear for this traditional music that is very rythmic and chanty. The following is a Christian song. Enjoy:

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When you think of traditional Christian music, I bet you don't think of this.

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