The music that is heard at Christmas in Venezuela are the “Gaitas”, the “aguinaldos”, the “parrandas”, the carols. The music that is heard during Christmas in Venezuela is full of joy, energy, and rhythm.
Christmas music in Venezuela also mixes cultural roots. Since Christmas has a strongly religious component, these musical manifestations are permeated by religion.
On the one hand, the “Parranda” and the “Gaita” are danceable, with a lot of rhythm and cheerful. They do not leave anyone indifferent and do not leave aside religious mentions. The themes of protest and humor abound in the Venezuelan bagpipes. Undoubtedly, these two genres mark the identity of Christmas music in Venezuela.
On the other hand, the Christmas “Aguinaldo” and the carol are quieter and with a more religious focus. The “Aguinaldo” with more tropical rhythms and the carol honoring its European roots with slower rhythms.
We see the presence of the baby Jesus, of prayers and of the virgin. This is very noticeable in the Venezuelan “Gaitas”, the Christmas music par excellence. In the same way the bagpipe has also become a vehicle for social criticism and protest of the people.
Next, we will mention several notorious representatives of each musical genre that is heard at Christmas in Venezuela:
- Gaitas: La Grey Zuliana.
- Aguinaldo: “Si la Virgen fuera andina” (“If the Virgin were Andean”) and “El Burrito Sabanero” (“The little savannah donkey.”).
- Parranda: “Faltan Cinco Pa’las Doce” and “Fuego al Cañon”.
- Christmas carol: “Corre caballito”, “El tamborilero” and “Niño Lindo”.
We will talk about each of these representatives later. Venezuelan music is a mixture of cultural influences as we will see below.
The miscegenation of the music that is heard at Christmas in Venezuela.
Christmas music in Venezuela, as well as Venezuelan cuisine, and everything related to culture in Venezuela, are the product of intense miscegenation. Even if we see the Venezuelan Christmas gastronomy, we can notice the miscegenation of flavors and dishes.
The women of Venezuela are beautiful because of the miscegenation product of the Spanish, Indian and black race. Likewise, Venezuelan music, culture and gastronomy are beautiful thanks to its enriching miscegenation…
The Christmas music that is heard in Venezuela.
Next, we will talk in more detail about each of the genres that make up the rich Venezuelan Christmas musical tradition. Each musical genre will be organized from the most representative of Christmas and Venezuelan, to the least “Venezuelan”.
This is because some of these traditions have suffered less from cultural mixing. That is why we can consider it less “own” of Venezuelan culture. And it is that Venezuelan culture fundamentally is not about roots and traditions but about mixture and cultural syncretism.
This is how the aguinaldo is a derivation of the carol that adds rhythms and themes typical of Venezuelan culture. However, Christmas carols are an imported musical manifestation that has become its own for the themes, without abandoning its slower and softer rhythms.
We can consider the “Gaita” as the main representative of Venezuelan Christmas music. Its ubiquity has led some people to become boredom. However, no one can deny that from the rhythms to its lyrics make it the best representative of Christmas Christmas music culture.
The “Gaita”, like any authentic artistic manifestation of the people, has been subject to censorship and ostracism. This is because the bagpipe has been a way of expressing the dissatisfaction of the people. It especially reflected the complaint of the Zulian people against what they considered their carelessness. Hence, the “Grey Zuliana” is its greatest representative.
Even today its diffusion is limited because it calls the people to dissatisfaction with their rulers and with the situation.
Let’s get to know a little more about each of the Venezuelan Christmas musical genres.
The venezuelan Gaitas – Christmas Music of Venezuela
One of the most accepted origins of the Zulian “Gaitas” is that it dates back to the urban centers of the state of Zulia in the 17th century. In the neighborhoods of El Saladillo and El Empredrao. We can find mentions of both areas of Maracaibo in many of his bagpiper musical compositions.
Its origins date back to the mixture of African and Spanish sounds and instruments. Here are some of the influences that can be identified in the Venezuelan Gaita:
- African Influence: Here we can notice the percussion of the drum as the most notable African influence. Also the marked rhythms of the bagpipes can be associated with African influences.
- Spanish: Here we can find in the cuatro a local derivation of the Spanish influence of the guitar. We must also remember that rhythms such as flamenco come from Spain with African influences. So, the rhythms of the Gaitas are a mixture of Spanish and African rhythms. In addition, we cannot overlook the furruco gaitero that is a direct derivation of the Spanish zambomba.
- Aborigine: Here we find the maraca (musical instrument) as an indisputable representative of aboriginal influence.
- Own contribution: If something we can say that the Venezuelan ingenuity added to the instrumental combination the charrasca (musical instrument), which gives identity to this mixture.
This mixture has generated an intense debate between factions that want to tip the balance in favor of one race or another. This has political purposes, to manipulate the Venezuelan and separate him into factions, as we will see below. We leave you a Venezuelan Gaita in English so you can know the rhythm even if it does not have a Christmas theme
Debate and manipulation of the cultural origin of Venezuela.
Those researchers who want to attribute an Afro-Venezuelan origin to the identity of the Gaita are nothing more than factions interested in giving ideological connotations to music. The truth is that there is nothing uniquely Afro-Venezuelan in the Gaitas. Gaita is an authentically Venezuelan product with diverse cultural roots and not only Afro-Venezuelan.
The Gaita is 100% a product of miscegenation that has shaped the Venezuelan, his race, culture, and identity. Any Manichean attempt to tip the scales toward one influence or another is a demonstration of cultural discrimination and racial supremacism.
The Venezuelan, as well as its own cultural manifestations are the product of the mixture of influences. But they are certainly authentically their own and not Spanish-Venezuelan, aboriginal or Afro-Venezuelan, they are simply Venezuelan.
Anything that separates Venezuelans according to their skin color causes divisions. These actions seek to highlight one or the other, politicizing the cultural fact, including the Venezuelan Gaita. We must be vigilant about these dangerous trends.