Belizean music is a mixture of Kriol, Mestizo, Garifuna, and Maya. Each culture is known for a special genre but the general population listens and dances to everything. You might believe that the music of Belize has achieved little worldwide recognition, but with one out of every three Belizeans living in the US, and international stars such as Andy Palacio who won the award of top 100 Greatest World Music Albums of All Time, our music has made its rounds. Below you will find popular music by the various cultures of Belize.
Whenever I think of a true Belizean rhythm, the first thing that comes to mind is Brukdown, it is the loud music heard almost every day blasting from the houses of neighbours. This genre was created by the Kriol culture, a great innovator was Mr. Peters and his Boom and Chime band. Instruments such an accordion, electric guitar, steel drums and banjo are paired with a donkey’s jawbone and turtle shells – it’s amazing.
The instrument of choice for the Mestizo is the Marimba – a percussion instrument that looks like a Xylophone. With the marimba originating from West Africa, there’s more to this story than I personally know; it is believed that a form of this instrument was brought to Guatemala, Mexico and Belize by slaves in the 1500s. Since then it has been modified and can now be heard in some villages of Corozal, Orange Walk, Cayo and Toledo.
The Garinagu proudly showcase their culture and music is a very important part of it. Their most popular music is called Punta: an upbeat, dance style tune that revolves around the beating of drums and the movement of your hips. One artist that has done a great deal for Belizean music in the international music scene is Andy Palacio. With his album: Watina, he steered away from the popular Punta Rock genre to Paranda, by doing this he tapped into the soulful side of Garifuna music and got people listening instead of only dancing.
The Maya equally share the love of the Marimba music, to the point that it is known as the national instrument of Guatemala. Since I already discussed it, let’s talk about another traditional instrument of the Maya, the harp. The Maya harp is created from rainforest hardwoods such as Mahogany by using special handmade tools and is part of an age old tradition. Take a look at the below video of Mr. Florencio Mess, a master harpist that lives in San Pedro Columbia, a small village in Toledo.
Do you have any favourites? I would love your feedback.