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Rhythm-A-Day Blog for January 6, 2020: Junkanoo

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

Día del Rey and 
Junkanoo (Bahamas)

Junkanoo is a spirited rhythm accompanying costumed dancers traditionally played for Christmas season street parades (it has been called "Christmas Carnival") on Boxing Day (December 26), New Year's Day, and in some areas Día del Rey (Three King's Day). It is a masquerade with elaborate head dresses, regalia and masks. These costumes are traditionally constructed from crepe paper and cardboard. The "rush" or parade begins around midnight and continues until after dawn. The instrumentation for the rhythm includes large bass drums of many types, Junkanoo bells (large, clanky and loud metal bells—maybe the most joyfully obnoxious instruments available to the modern percussionist), and horns of any description.

Junkanoo is an example of a "rhythm of resistance." It originated in the pre-Emancipation era in Nassau when the slaves were allowed only three days off all year: Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Junkanoo allowed the slaves to accomplish the retention and transformation of African-derived celebration and culture.

Here are these rhythms in today's video lesson:


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