Haitian Music: Rara

1686 words 7 pages
Haitian Music: Rara Haiti has a very interesting history of culture and religion. Currently, while Roman Catholicism is the official religion, Voodoo can be considered the national religion; about half of all Haitians practice it. This culture and religious history – and current practice – is essential in understanding one of the most important genres of music in Haiti; Rara.
One of the most important aspects of Voodoo is the summoning of the Lwa, or spirits. This is done in a service and drumming is an essential part of this service because it provides music. Dancing is also a very important part of the service. These services involve nearly everyone through either the drumming or the dancing. There are two different types of
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It is very hierarchical; they have Presidents, Colonels, Majors, Captains, and so on. This is believed to have originated from the peasant armies of the eighteenth century; marching bands accompanied them. For this reason, and as a reason all to it’s own, Rara is also a political activist festival. It is in the context of Rara that Haitians make their views on everything from land erosion to massive migration, unemployment, poverty, famine, dictatorships and so on. Because Haiti is religiously free, like Canada, this religious festival is the perfect outlet for opinions and beliefs to be expressed. They express themselves a lot through their lyrics. They express their views on politics in the local community usually, but sometimes they also express their views about the national situation. Because of their large number, Rara bands can express national political views that cannot be voiced otherwise.
There is a spectrum of different types of Rara bands; they can be anything from simple to very complex.
On the simple end of the spectrum there is “a capella” (voice only) and also “charyio-pye” (foot bands). The foot bands stomp the tempo of the song in a marching rhythm.
On the complex end of the spectrum, there are bands that use brass musicians and instruments from kompa (popular music) and achieve national reputations because of it. These bands often play catchy melodies at very high