Murga at night in Buenos Aires.
The Uruguayan carnival is a popular celebration par excellence and one of the longest ones too. Lasting for 40 days and nights, the Uruguayan carnival is the country’s most important public spectacle, selling more tickets than all the other shows together including football matches –the most important sport in the country.
See Video Clip for Art and Music: Murga in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Please let video up load it can take several minutes depending on your connection.
The murga uruguaya has its root back in the days of the colony, together with the religion and culture, the Spaniards brought their customs and traditions, and Carnival was one of them. Back in the early days of the colony the black slaves of Monetivedo were allowed to go out in Carnival, New Years and Christmas, and they all gathered together in the city’s walls were they sang and danced all night long. Since this was a time of disguise the slaves dressed in colorful tunics and outfits, sometimes emulating those suits worn by their owners but as a prank.
As time went by and the colony became an independent nation, some traditions prevailed and were re-signified with the aid of time and new cultures, but carnival remained in the popular culture, growing, developing and expanding. Unlike other carnivals in the world, the Uruguayan carnival is not a parade, but a great festival in an open air theatre, in which the Uruguayan murgas play a central role, performing live and competing for the best show award. The murga uruguaya combines like the argentine one music and art theatrical performances, but differently from the Argentine the Uruguayan is a large group of 15 singers who all perform and sing, in disguise, and the key element are the lyrics and music of this choirs like social and political statements. The difference is that the Uruguayan is more theatrical, and the argentine more parade like especially because this last one includes dance –which the other doesn’t-. The Argentine murga is more of a mixture between the Uruguayan murga and the Uruguayan candombe –which is a form of public art performance, where the key are the music generated by a large band of African drums of all sizes and kinds that make music and they go playing throughout the streets of the cities and neighbors, passers by and curious people go following them, dancing accordingly to the sound of the drums-. The argentine murga as we explained had the street art like feel and dance, which it shares with the Candombe of Uruguay, but it is much more theatrical and musically developed with singers, drummers, whistles, and plates, tambourines…
Therefore the Uruguayan carnival, murga and Candome, share with the Argentine version of the carnival some ground foundations, but the evolutions and forms of each one are extremely different. We can say that the Uruguayan carnival is much more theatrical including the murga performance but also humorists, singers, dancers and several other performers.
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