Si Soy Llanero: Joropo Music from the Orinoco Plains

Si Soy Llanero: Joropo Music from the Orinoco Plains

by Grupo Cimarron de CubaGrupo Cimarron de Cuba

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Overview

Each year, joint U.S. and Colombian drug enforcement units destroy hundreds of acres of coca, a plant that's used as a natural stimulant in addition to providing the main ingredient in the cocaine trade. Should coca eradication become final, Colombians and Venezuelans can fall back on their local music, joropo, which must be the crack of folk music. Hard, intense, and addictive, joropo is typically enjoyed after a long day's toil. In that sense, it fires up bone-tired bodies for partying, and not just any partying -- duels of extemporaneous poetry are part of the joropo experience, giving an already aggressive style the competitive edge. Surprisingly, the devastating engine of all this energy is the harp. But it's not played in the billowing Western style; much closer is the West African kora, or more specifically, the clanging attack of the Malian hunter's harp, the kamele ngoni. Likewise, maracas make up the percussion section, but these are not your average rattles. Deployed with a mechanized efficiency that seems too sharp and precise to be human, these shakers also produce dozens of specific sounds. The high and low ends are filled in by the tiny, guitar-shaped quinto and string bass. While there are some ballads, the hard-driving golpe is the attraction of the unit captured here, el Grupo Cimarrón of harpist Carlos Rojas Hernández, which features spirited vocalists "El Gallito Lagunero" -- Luis Eduardo Moreno -- and Ana Veydó Ordóñez, who hangs very tough with these square-dealing plainsmen. Highly recommended -- or should that be a warning?

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