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Music and Theatricality

Carnival music instruments
Canadian Museum of Civilization

Video Excerpt

  Carnival music instruments / Photo: MCC - P. Carpentier


In Haiti, the carnival is a fluid and expressive acoustic space similar to theatre that links the entire social space to the festival. Carnival time is a time for letting go. It marks the end of winter and celebrates the return of life. Known as lalwadi or rara, the carnival is celebrated in February and coincides with Mardi Gras. It is the peasants' carnival, and the nature of the festivities in this agricultural society correspond to the celebration of spring, rather than to the ritual of Holy Week, although there are some religious elements. The carnival is pure entertainment in which the characters that people dress up as and the costumes they wear participate in the production of a satire on social, political and economic life. A variety of dances are performed at the carnival. They are accompanied by drums and vaccines, to which brass instruments, whistles and various percussion instruments are added.