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Understanding Carnaval: Murga

Murga Group Afilarmónica NiFú-NiFá

Yeah, you turn up in costume, you party ... what's to understand? However, there are all sorts of different components and participants in Carnaval and the Murga groups are one of them. You may see them - you'll know if you hear them - and wonder what it's about. I liked this description, which is kinda Murga 101:
"Murgas are a key part of Carnaval in Las Palmas and elsewhere in the Canary Islands. They’re choirs who sing along with a sort of kazoo band (the sound is an acquired taste) and their songs are a satirical commentary on the year’s news. They are not known for being politically correct, which is hardly a Carnaval tradition."

The longer version:

The murgas in the Canarian carnivals consist of a group of people who sing with lyrics that are generally critical of politics, but also of the problems of society in general. Frequently developed with humor and irony, the compositions are based on popular songs, whose lyrics are changed, with the murguero whistles (kazoo) carried by each of the members. The group is usually large (more than 20 people) and is accompanied only by percussion. They are one of the most popular elements of carnivals and contests are held where the most outstanding murgas in costumes, lyrics and interpretation are awarded.

The murga is the most popular element of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife carnival.

The Afilarmónica NiFú-NiFá (Tenerife) is the oldest of these groups, and is considered the grandfather of the Canarian murgas. Its creator, Enrique González Bethencourt, was awarded in 2001 by the King of Spain, after his intense dedication to developing the carnival even during the dictatorial regime of Francisco Franco. The murgas contests are one of the most popular acts of the Carnival. So much so, that the tickets for the adult murgas contest for the final usually sell out a few hours after going on sale, and on the day of the contest, people line up, even from the day before to be able to enjoy the best seats. 

Murga en Canarias

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