Tamborera is an Afro-Venezuelan folk genre of music that features rich use of the tambora drum in carrying the main beat. It emerged in the state of Zulia in western Venezuela, most notably in the region surrounding Lake Maracaibo. The prominence of the tambora drum and other percussive derivatives of African instruments, such as the furro and charrasca, are indicative of the Iberian and African influences on the tamborera, while the tropical rhythms that pervade throughout this style of music represent the influence of the Caribbean culture that is prominent in this part of Venezuela. The tamborera has also spread into many other styles, and tamborera rhythms underlie many of those found in Afro-Cuban genres of music.
History of the Tamborera
The tamborera is based on the gaita de tambora, which is from the South of Lake Maracaibo . The gaita de tambora, whose origins have never been established with certainty , plays a part in the holiday celebrations from December 26 to January 6 in Maracaibo, so it was presumably born out of the calls of religion. Early forms of the gaita de tambora combined chants of Mass taught by Catholic missionaries with the percussion of drums, the characteristic guttural sound of the furro, charrasca, and maracas, representing the Iberian contributions to the music . The subsequent performance by the natives of Zulia brought a definitive style to the new music. With the introduction of African slaves to the estates and plantations of Zulia in the 19th century, the gaita de tambora was given heavy African aspects by those slaves who used the music to protest as well as to evoke the celebrations and traditions they brought to Venezuela from their native African lands. By mixing the tropical rhythms of the neighboring Caribbean musical culture with the amalgam of Iberian, African, and indigenous Zulian musical cultures already present in the gaita de tambora, the tamborera was born.
The most important instruments in tamborera music are the percussion
, which consist of several characteristic instruments: tamboras
, furro, charrasca, and maracas
Apart from percussion, other core instruments are the guitar and piano. Depending on the performing artist, other melodic instruments, such as the trumpets and trombones can be used as accompaniment as well. Tamborera music typically features a vocalist as well.
Tamborera lyrics are structured to include three verses and a chorus, with each line made up of eight syllables. Initially written about the daily life of people in nature, tamborera lyrics now range from simple phrases and words, like "tamborera" repeated with little creativity, to romantic love songs, to radical verses of protest.
Because of the tropical Caribbean
undertones of the tamborera, this genre is musically different from its ancestral gaita de tambora
or other gaitas
. Tamborera music generally utilizes a 4/4 time signature
, but this is prone to waver with great usage of syncopation. The four percussion instruments
, furro, charrasca, maracas
) layer several different rhythmic patterns together at the same time, but it is always the tamboras
that lay down the foundation of the tamborera by providing the main beat
Some Artists of Tamborera Music
- Sylvia de Grasse, also known as the "queen of the tamborera," (b. October 28, 1921, d. March 14, 1978) made arrangements to the style and adapted it to the music of Panama. She recorded many albums that highlighted the tamborera genre as well as others that contained tamborera rhythms. Her voice gave tamborera music widespread play on radio airwaves starting from the 1940s, but after her death, the tamborera rhythms almost disappeared.
- Jose Luis Moran
- Rozenda Bernal
- Gran Coquivacoa is a Venezuelan Gaita Zuliana group that released numerous albums featuring the tamborera as well as the gaita de tambora.
- Guaco, initially a gaita band from Maracaibo, added a more tropical Afro-Cuban vibe to the tamborera. The group soon merged other genres like pop, jazz, and funk to create a completely novel face to the genre.
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