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February 28, 2012

Murga - Choir Competitions In The Streets

NPR:

Uruguay boasts that it has the longest Carnival celebration not just in Latin America, but the world. The 40-day celebration is dotted with makeshift stages all around the capital city of Montevideo for performances of choral music called murga. Murga is both entertainment and a sociopolitical commentary that survived the military dictatorship of the 1970s.

Murga songs like "Los Curtidores de Hongos," which tells the story of the oldest murga choir in Uruguay, feature a guttural, forceful tone of singing that has been with the style from the beginning. Eduardo Rabelino, director of the Museum of Carnaval in Montevideo, says murga began in the working class. Street salesmen would sing in the same tone that they'd shout out on the streets.

Some were born of labor unions, Rabelino says. Six or seven street musicians who'd get together to have a good time and sing about what was happening in society. The tradition came to Uruguay via Cadíz, Spain, more than 100 years ago, where there is a similar choral music called chirigota. Today, a murga choir is made up of 13 voices singing complex harmonies, accompanied by three percussionists plus a choral director.

The performers wear elaborate, circus-like costumes and makeup, and compete every Carnaval. Now some choirs even have sponsors and CDs. But they still parody the talk of the town that year — be it corrupt politicians, a spike in violence or that annoying recording you get when you call for a taxi. Listen or Read more.

Posted by acapnews at February 28, 2012 12:00 AM