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Christine Norton Photography

PARANG IN SANTA CRUZ TRINIDAD

Parang is a popular folk music originating from Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, it was brought to Trinidad and Tobago by Venezuelan and Colombian migrants who were primarily of Amerindian, Spanish, Coco panyol, and African heritage, something which is strongly reflected in the music itself. The word is derived from two Spanish words: parranda, meaning “a spree or fête”, and parar meaning “to stop”.

In the past, it was traditional for parang serenaders to pay nocturnal visits to the homes of family and friends, where part of the fun was waking the inhabitants of the household from their beds. Today, parang is especially vibrant in Trinidad and Tobago communities such as Paramin, Lopinot, and Arima.

In Trinidad, traditional parang music is largely performed around Christmastime, when singers and instrumentalists (collectively known as the parranderos) travel from house to house in the community, often joined by friends and neighbours family etc. using whatever instruments are at hand. Popular parang instruments include the cuatro (a small, four-string guitar) and maracas (locally known as chac-chacs).

Other instruments often used are violin, guitar, claves (locally known as toc-toc), box bass (an indigenous instrument), tambourine, mandolin, bandol, caja (a percussive box instrument), and marimbola (an Afro-Venezuelan instrument). In exchange for the entertainment, parranderos are traditionally given food and drink: pastelle, sorrel, rum and “Ponche Crema” (a form of alcoholic eggnog).

While traditional house-to-house caroling tradition is still practised by some small groups and larger organized groups, modern parang music has also developed a season of staged performances called parang fiestas, held from October through to January each year, culminating in a national parang competition.

This video shows Parang in the Santa Cruz valley in Trinidad and Tobago. It took place on Saturday 10 November 2018 and the video seeks to share the atmosphere of a community parang celebration.

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