It’s carnival time, time for colors, mysterious masks and lighthearted celebrations. This festival spread all over the world gives us the opportunity to explore different traditions, each with its own cultural and musical peculiarities. On the Ocarina blog we invite you on a journey dedicated to all children, discovering the music of the world’s most beautiful carnivals. From the evocative Carnival of Venice to the overwhelming and colorful event in Rio de Janeiro, music plays a central role in creating the festive atmosphere that characterizes these extraordinary events.
The Venice Carnival is one of the most famous and popular carnivals in the world. For a whole week Venice is transformed into a masked ball. All the streets of the city are filled with jesters and people masked in beautiful costumes. Thousands of tourists flock to the city’s alleys to participate in this great festival full of colors and fun. Every year, the awarding of the best masks and events in St. Mark’s Square make the carnival unforgettable. On Shrove Tuesday, the party ends with spectacular fireworks and Venice thus returns to its normal life.
Among the most famous compositions that evoke the festive atmosphere of the carnival is the “Carnival of Venice,” a theme with variations composed by Nicolò Paganini on the typical air of the lagoon city “O mamma, mamma cara.” This composition, characterized by virtuosity typical of the early 19th century, reflects Paganini’s mastery in manipulating and reinterpreting the light Venetian theme and is particularly suitable for introducing children to listening to classical music. The version by the Accardo-Bandini duo, using the guitar instead of the piano, reflects the adaptation of the Genoese composer’s favorite instrument.
For 151 years, the Viareggio Carnival has been considered one of the most important in Italy and Europe. It is a spectacular event, with giant floats parading along the waterfront in a whirlwind of colors, music, confetti and streamers, pure fun and joy. The allegorical works, through satire, address major contemporary issues: from national and international politics to the environment and social issues. Among the masks, floats and dances, music takes on a key role. In fact, every year a Song Festival is held as a parade of carnival songs. The winning song becomes the official anthem of the masked parades.HERE you can find the roll of honor of all Viareggio Carnival songs since 1921
Below you can listen to “Da Viareggio con amore” from 1982 by singer-songwriter Egisto Malfatti.
Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Not only is Tenerife the largest of the Canary Islands, but it is also home to the largest annual carnival in Europe. Such is the scale and popularity of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival that the city is very often associated with Rio de Janeiro, the host city of the famous Rio Carnival. Tenerife Carnival is a riot of color that draws thousands of visitors to the streets of its capital city, igniting its usual population of 250,000. With parades, street parties and processions, the festivities are open to everyone and dressing up is almost mandatory.
Every year the carnival has a different theme and especially the locals compete to dress up in the most original costume of all. The Santa Cruz carnival is divided into two parts, the “official” and the “street” carnival. The official carnival features only musical groups, murgas or famous people. The street carnival, on the other hand, involves both famous people and citizens. The rondallas, lyrical-musical groups that perform classical songs disguised and accompanied by plectrum instruments, give the festival a unique atmosphere. Santa Cruz en Carnaval is one of the most beloved and danced songs during carnival, a melody that continues to resound with energy. This song was written by Billo’s Caracas Boys, a Venezuelan musical orchestra founded back in 1940. This orchestra holds the record for sales in Venezuela, testifying to its enormous popularity in the South American country. Their main influence has always been Caribbean music, particularly Venezuelan cumbia, Colombian Caribbean music, and Cuban music.
Carnival of Nice
The Carnival of Nice, is the first carnival with an international character in France, as well as the most important winter event on the French Riviera. Two weeks of festivities enliven the city of Nice. Carnival parades and elegant flower battles are the highlights of the event, accompanied strictly by the music of the official Marche du Roy anthem. The song is taken from the folk tradition and has a powerful refrain and verses that describe the carnival atmosphere. It was recorded for the occasion under the artistic direction of Pierre Bertrand, who enlisted the collaboration of singer Paloma Pradal as well as a large orchestra of musicians and a children’s choir.
Notting Hill Carnival
The Notting Hill Carnival, which originated from London’s Caribbean community in 1966, has become one of the most important festivals in the world. The big event takes place at a different time, in late August, in the famous London neighborhood of Notting Hill, in the Kensington and Chelsea district in the west of the city.
The festivities begin on Saturday with a drumming competition. Sunday gives space for children with a shorter parade. It is also the day when the most beautiful costumes are awarded.
The most anticipated event, however, is Monday with the Final Parade in which colorful floats and eccentric costumes parade to the rhythm of music! Caribbean Music is the undisputed star of the weekend.
Indeed, salsa, reggae, jazz, swing and blues and hip hop songs echo through the streets, but also more unfamiliar genres such as calypso, a musical genre of the African slaves who were brought to work on Trinidad’s plantations, created to mock their masters. Then there is steel pan, a musical genre where bamboo canes are used as percussion instruments with different tones and melodies.
The essence of the Notting Hill carnival is undoubtedly fun, an incentive to enjoy life to see things from a positive point of view because, as we often hear people sing in London parades, “La vida es un carnaval.”
Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Rio Carnival is the largest carnival in the world. Each year, this large and eccentric show begins 40 days before Easter and includes 5 days of festivities. Millions of Brazilians and tourists from all over the world come to Rio to experience this special event. Music, particularly samba, is at the center of this celebration, with dancers following the rhythm of the parades. The origins of samba date back to migrants who brought their traditions to Rio in the late 19th century, creating a lively and colorful show. Every neighborhood in Rio has its own street music groups, with “Cordão do Bola Preta” and the “Banda de Ipanema” among the most famous. The parade in the Sambodrome is the highlight of the carnival, with samba schools preparing elaborate and colorful performances. One of the songs most reminiscent of Rio Carnival is undoubtedly “Magalenha,” by Brazilian musician Sergio Mendes. A celebration of life, love and community, accompanied by catchy rhythms and vibrant melodies that invite dancing and sharing the joy of the moment. And so…. sound on and Happy Carnival!