Welcome to our website
Bienvenida! Welcome! Parang Alive! is just for you.
In this website you will find out about the very interesting heritage of our Spanish, French and African descendants of Trinidad and Tobago, and how their music created a unique artform known as Parang. In our quest to find out about the origins of Parang we have discovered a rich history that is shared and enjoyed by our people. The delightful rhythms and timbres of the instruments and vocalists capture the essence of what Christmas is really about.
We hope that as you browse through our pages, you will derive much enjoyment and appreciation for this truly beautiful music, as we did.
What is Parang?
Parang is Music! Parang is culture! Parang is tradition!
Parang is an artform that is indigenous to Trinidad & Tobago. It is a genre of Music that was created in our country's history and still lives on today. This music is heard during the Christmas season and starts from October every year.
The term "parang" comes from the Spanish word "parranda", which means to fete, spree or party. These songs were religious in nature as they were mainly about the birth of Jesus Christ. Thus parang meant singing Spanish songs about the proclamation of the birth of Jesus, all that ocurred in between and up to the visit of the Magi (Epiphany), on January 6th of the new year.
This was done in an extraordinary way. A group of about four to six people including instrument - playing musicians would go from house to house singing and playing their instruments. The musicians played guitar, cuatro, mandolin (bandolin) , violin, cello (violoncello), bandol (bandola), box bass, tambourine, clapper, toc-toc (claves), wood block pollitos, tiple, scratcher (güiro) and maracas (chac-chac or shak-shak).
A point to note is that while we can easily go to a shop and purchase and musical instrument today or even place an order for a customized one, in the early years the parranderos carved out their musical instruments from tree barks and gourds. The guiro is still made from gourds and the chac chac made from calabash.
The families would meet the parranderos (musicians) and serve them drinks and food, (see our link on recipes) and follow a particular routine in singing. This included rituals for the entry into the home, the dedication of songs to the host for his warmth and hospitality, and the departure. During the early years men alone were parranderos while women stayed behind to prepare the food and drinks for the festivities.These sessions lasted until the early hours of the morning.
The merriment, joy and vivacious music that is shared by neighbours and friends have made this traditon a rich part of our culture.
A tradition that many of the pioneers want to keep alive!
There are many villages that are keeping parang alive locally.
Lopinot, Santa Cruz, Rio Claro, San Rafael, Palo Seco, Tabaquite, Arima, Paramin, Bonasse, Brasso Venado, Las Cuevas, Rancho Quemado, Erin, Mundo Nuevo and Cedros.
Parang in the villages was a way of life for the villagers. One established parrandero shared that in Erin, where he grew up and went carousing house to house during the Christmas season, parang was used to help overcome and address disputes and disagreements. If another parrandero knew of a dispute among members in the village, he would act as the mediator in trying to get the disagreement sorted out, through the parang, and it usually was. In some villages some parranderos would sing and give picong ( light comical banter where someone is teased or mocked in a friendly manner) to each other.
However, even though parang is the same generally, each village has its unique and peculiar style. In the village of Lopinot, we learnt parang is played throughout the year at different occasions including Easter. Even a solemn occasion as a funeral would have parranderos present to sing each night and of course there would be food to accompany!
Many parang bands also perform at Malls and Christmas events. In recent times it has become part of the landscape of Tobago although the form is more contemporary than traditional.
The Parang Project (accessed 9th Spetember 2010) from http://www.nalis.gov.tt/music/parang_project/parangproj.htm
Parang Festival (accessed October 3rd 2010) from: http://www.ttconnect.gov.tt/gortt/portal/ttconnect/eventnholiday/?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/gortt/wcm/connect/GorTT%20Web%20Content/ttconnect/home/events+and+holidays/parang+festival
What is Parang? (accessed September 09 2010) from http://aingram.web.wesleyan.edu/parangdescription.html