Gaita Zuliana or Zulian Gaita is a regional genre of music from the state of Zulia, in Venezuela, which have the strange distinction of being associated with Christmas time despite not being particularly Christmas-y. This is because Gaita is associated more with November religious festivities, mainly the celebrations of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá (nicknamed "La Chinita") on November 18.
The main instruments in Gaita Zuliana are furro (a kind of drum with an stick attached, that to all effects takes the bass position), cuatro (a small four-stringed instrument very similar to guitars), tambora (a tall drum), charrasca (a metal cheese shredder-like instrument that is played by scratching it with a metal stick) and maracas. Other instruments can be (and are) added, but groups that do so are seen with suspicion. The songs has a main singer and a chorus baking them singing the refrain, so a gaita group can be quite large even without extra instruments.
The Gaita allegedly originated around the 17th century, but was in the 20th century that it got their actual form. It was mostly confined to the Zulia region until the mid-to-late Sixties, when musical promoters decided to bring it to the capital, Caracas. In the Seventies, a Gaita festival was founded in Caracas, and the genre's popularity exploded. Today, most of the "traditional" gaitas are the ones which became famous between 1974 and 1984.
While still very popular, Gaita has his share of detractors. Many criticize their very local scope, and the repetitiveness of the rhythms. Artist Enrique Enríquez once went on record to say that gaita sounded like an old washing machine in their last stertors.
Note that the local call the genre just "gaita", but have to tack the "zuliana" on Internet to avoid confusion with bagpipe music ("Gaita" is also Spanish for bagpipe).
The Gaita genre demonstrates these tropes:
- Creator Provincialism: Very.
- Hymn to Music
- Ode to Intoxication: Frequently.
- Protest Song: Barrio Obrero and Gran Coquivacoa have sang the most famous of those in the genre, but every group have done at least one or two.
- Self-Demonstrating Song
- This Is a Song
- Three Chords and the Truth: A variant—not only is the traditional rhythm chords defended, but also the traditional 5 instruments ensemble.