Profile Essay-Carnival Musical Events in Bolivia
If Music be the food of love; play on. These are words of Shakespeare, the world renowned playwright. Though an abstract thing, music does touch us in some way, and any English speaking person must have come across the saying, music is the food of the soul. Indeed music does touch our soul and feelings in profound ways, and that is why it is an important element of relaxation or enjoyment and fun. There various musical events in the United States of America and all share some kind of common music.
People that attend these events may be funs of rock music, hip-hop music, jazz music and country music-just to mention but a few. But have you ever at one time asked yourself, what other musical events or kind of music exists outside the United States of America. As a music lover I have been attending various musical events in the U.S.A, but nothing has ever equaled the event that I experienced when our family visited Bolivia on a holiday tour. Our family was fortunate to attend carnival events in the native town of Oruro. Bolivia is a nation with a long history of colonialism under the Spanish crown, and multi-faceted culture consisting of Europeans, native Indians such as the Quechua and Aymara as well as Afro-Bolivians of African descent through enslaved miners.
An interview with our tour guide revealed that the carnival events are of Spanish origin, but through cultural syncretism, these events incorporate, music and dance from different cultures of Bolivia. The carnivals occur annually in various Bolivian towns, but the grand carnivals occur in the city of Oruro. Though marked with simplicity the events are full of pomp and color, which actually left me exhilarated. The dancers in the carnivals make marching parades whilst dancing and getting entertained by acrobats. Most of the dances are based on traditional music, dance styles and attires that date far back to their colonial era.
When I asked one Afro-Bolivian man about the essence of carnival festivities he said; This is our most memorable event that not only symbolizes our past but also reminds us about our heritage but also helps us to pass down our cultural values and history to our new generations (Johnston, 2009). Looking at the way people celebrated the vent, with fun, games, dance and happiness sometimes only expressed by tears I learned that indeed this must be a great event in their life. Their attires were colorful and specifically reserved for the event. All people participated without exceptions, but the dance was well organized according to age groups and gender thus forming various marching groups.
Through our guide we learned that the dances used in the carnival such as La Saya and Caporales were symbolic in nature and they also had a religious connation. For example the La Saya was a celebratory dance for the patroness of the enslaved miners. Unlike most nations or culture the Bolivians celebrate their carnival events for several days, and I had actually never experienced people that celebrated their heritage and history with such pomp and color. My love for music and dance drew me close and made me develop a liking for the event and even the people.
My sisters did not seem to like it, and to them it was just like any other traditional dance performance in some remote locality in developing nations, but to me it was a great event considering the significant of the event and what I learned about it. In America we celebrate for mere fun, perhaps just to work ourselves out on the dance floor to release some stress or tension and have fun. But back there in Latin America-Bolivia-I learned that in some places music and some associated events had great significance in society that brought people together for a bigger purpose full of fun and enjoyment as well as celebration culture and upholding of faith and transmission of cultural values as well as culturally inherited knowledge and aspects of culture.
The experience from the carnival celebration events left me mesmerized and wondering why some of us did not regard our history that much. Contrastingly, in our nations musical events are for sheer fun and cultural heritage in America seems to sound like some medieval thing. We are modernized and out of touch with our culture and music is anything that is popular. In actual sense, by the end of the tour I felt that our music was empty shell, nothing but a void. To us music is fashion-that which is latest-but to Bolivians their music never changes over time and it is a permanent aspect of culture and their society over the years. This was an experience of a life time and I had never known that people could hold some musical events with such great importance and significance to their life.
Johnston, F.udyan. Personal Interview, 2009
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