Garífuna Musical Instruments
Purificación "Popo" Arriola López
Barauda Dance Troup Director, Honduras
Here we have the basic musical instruments that accompany various dances
in Garífuna culture. In front of us, we have the tortoise shells that
are played with two drumsticks. Here we have maracas (photo at right).
They are two gourds or hollowed-out shells, which carry natural seeds
that are called, "tears of Saint Peter." And here we have harpsichords,
which are two pieces of wood. One has a cavity where you slip in your
hand. This is to make it sound.
Here we have the conch shell (left). This instrument plays various roles
in Garífuna culture. It is used to call the community to the beach to
buy fresh fish from the newly arrived fisherman. It also informs the community
when to thatch a roof. It serves as a means of communication when a family
member has strayed or lost his way in the countryside. Needless to say,
the conch shell has various utilities.
The most basic instrument of all is the drum, however. These small, monotone
drums are the secondary drums (far right). These drums maintain Garífuna
culture with their rhythm. These two that I have here are the primary
or revolutionary drums (far left). They are the drums that have maintained
the history of the Garífuna people since 1636. Let's call our musician
friends now so they can give us a demonstration of the many Garífuna instruments.