The Belizean Creole, are the descendant of the slaves brought by the first British settlers. This African mainstream was mixed with the blood of the slave master, usually English or Scots. Although the slaves came from many different West African cultures, common traits can be traced in agricultural methods, social, political and religious beliefs based on close tribal relations. Religious leaders judged and cured their brothers and sisters and taught the people customs and traditions using ancestor stories, oral traditions, myths and folktales. African ancestors believed in many gods whose jobs as caretakers of the rainforests and rivers predated today’s environmentalists. An Obeah-man was known and respected as a healer, using herbs to cure and words of wisdom to advise the tribe.

Music and dance were closely connected with African religious traditions, as well as being recreational. People sang, played and danced at worship and at work. Since timber - mostly mahogany - continued to dominate the Belizean economy, it was in the mahogany camps where much Creole Belizean music had its start.

Belize City came alive with beating drums - the bram! According to Belizean folklorist, groups of friends would gather at a home with the furniture pushed against the walls, leaving an open space in which to bram. Hips and bellies were gyrated, shoulders swing, and arms flung about with abandon, resulting in flowing contortions of the body while the legs kept up a rhythmic bram! (If you were able to perform all the above then you could brukdown). Music was supplied by a combination of two or three of the following: drums, accordions, banjos, guitars, mouth organs, forks pulled across graters, pint bottles tapped against each other, combs covered with soft paper or brooms struck on the floor. Enthusiasm replaced harmony and the tempo increased as the liquor flowed - rum, rum popo, spruce and wines made from cashews, blackberries, oranges, craboos or ginger.

Brukdown music, bram-style is still played in Belize. Instruments in a Boom and Chime Band include a two-sided bass drum, jawbone of an ass, guitar banjo and accordion. The Boom and Chime name is derived from the two sounds made by hitting of the drum on different sides: “boom” (bass) and “chime” (Tenor). “Boom and Chime” songs are composed about recent happenings, gossips, petty thefts, elopements, mule’s birthdays or Shall I babies.

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