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Book details
  • Genre:MUSIC
  • SubGenre:Ethnomusicology
  • Language:English
  • Pages:146
  • Paperback ISBN:9781682228913

Ibagari: Portraits of Garifuna Lifecycle in Song

Song Reference

by Leonard Cayetano and Joycelin Palacio-Cayetano

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The Ibagari Song Reference is a companion to the Ibagari CD. The Ibagari Song Reference provides a unique perspective of the Garifuna culture through its folk music, art depicting Garifuna lifestyle, and reflections by Len Cayetano and his wife Dr. Joycelin Palacio-Cayetano after an emotional visit to their ancestral homeland—St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including the site of the pre-exile internment of their Garifuna ancestors, the island of Balliceaux. It contains the lyrics of each song in Garifuna, as well as translations in both English and Spanish. Each song is transcribed into musical notations. Portraits by Greg Palacio present snapshots of highlights of Garifuna lifestyle.
As descendants of the exiled Garifuna People, impelled to action by a visit to our ancestral homeland 200 years after the 1797 exile from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to Roatan, Honduras, the Ibagari recording and song reference are genuine efforts to make a modest contribution to preserve the treasure trove of Garifuna songs. Customarily, the oral communication tradition is the primary mode for learning Garifuna songs. Maintaining the rich culture for over two centuries despite the far-reaching impacts of exile is commendable. The challenge to sustain our Garifuna heritage is amplified by the waning level of proficiency in speaking the Garifuna language. One of the manifestations of this challenge is the inability of a significantly large number of Garifuna People to sing previously commonly known songs in their entirety. Knowing fragments of a Garifuna song is more the norm for a significant number of natives. This project is attempting to reverse the trend by expanding learning options for several Garifuna classics. Seizing the opportunity to leverage technology to transcribe the lyrics of Garifuna songs as completely as possible and translate into musical notations for posterity, we utilized our backgrounds in information technology and instructional technology to begin the process of digital musical transcriptions. Garifuna history written via the prism of a Garifuna perspective by Garifuna for Garifuna and Friends of Garifuna is imperative for the self-preservation of a culture deemed a masterpiece of humanity by UNESCO yet considered highly endangered for survival as quintessentially known. The tension between preservation and elimination must be acknowledged and addressed now so that the Garifuna culture gets passed on to the next generation as obtained from our progenitors who endured and survived ethnic cleansing in 1797 in Balliceaux, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. As a preservation effort, to address the language needs of Garinagu in the Diaspora, the lyrics of songs in Garifuna are translated to both English and Spanish.
About the author
Len Cayetano was born in Crique Arena, Toledo District, Belize. He proudly considers Punta Gorda his hometown since it was there that he spent most of his formative years. He attended St. Peter Claver Primary School in Punta Gorda but completed his primary education at St. Louis Rey Primary School in San Antonio, Toledo District, Belize. After completing his primary education, he returned to Punta Gorda where he completed two years of high school education at St. Peter Claver College and finished his high school education at Stann Creek Ecumenical High School in Dangria, Belize. Following high school, he attended Belize Technical College Sixth Form in Belize City where he majored in Chemistry and Mathematics. His interest in continuing his studies in science drew him to the United States where he attended DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. At DePaul, he did a dual major in Mathematics and Computer Science and graduated with honors. Len recalls his time at DePaul fondly and recalls the engaging and positive interactions he had with his professors of Mathematics and Computer Science. Upon completion of his studies at DePaul, Len moved to Los Angeles, California, where he began his career in Software Engineering and continued graduate education in Computer Science at Loyola Marymount University, and Business Management and Software Engineering at the University of Southern California. Len’s career in Software Engineering spans thirty years and is grateful for the opportunity to work at some of the most progressive and entrepreneurial organizations in the United States in both management and engineering roles. Highlights of his career include managing a remote engineering team in Moscow, Russia, and being a member of the executive management team of an Internet startup. Additional accomplishments include teaching as a guest lecturer in Software Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and designing and teaching a class on the fundamentals of embedded systems for The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In December 2014, Len was nominated as a candidate for IEEE’s 2015 Professional & Educational Activities Board. This board oversees the global educational and professional activities for the Computer Society. Len maintains a keen interest in all genres of music and is on a mission to help preserve Garifuna music.