Candombe Terms
Ansina: a social group in Montevideo, and one of the city's two uncontested candombe families. In the 1800s, when Uruguay joined other colonies in fighting for independence from Spain, Uruguayan national hero Jose Artigas led an elite division of troops against the colonists. One of his top advisors was Joaquin Lezina, known as Ansina, a freed slave who composed musical odes about his commander's exploits and is regarded by Afro-Uruguayans as an unheralded father of the nation. The heart of Montevideo's candombe community was once two tenements that are abandoned ruins today; Ansina (named after the historical figure) and Medio Mundo. The tenements were a center for candombe performances known as llamadas (drum calls), a direct offshoot of the slave dances.
Candombe: Afro-Uruguayan rhythmic and musical style, based on three tambores: piano, chico, and repique .
Chico (small): smallest and highest in pitch of the three tambores, its head measures 8.5 inches in diameter; the chico is the rhythmic pendulum of the cuerda.
Comparsa: a group that performs candombe during Montevidean carnival.
Cuareim: a social group in Montevideo, and one of the city's two uncontested candombe families.
Cuerda: family of three tambores (piano, chico, and repique); at a minimum, a cuerda consists of three people, each playing one of the three tambores.
Escobero: young man who leads the tambores down the streets, dancing with a headless broomstick twirling behind his back and up and down his arms; also called Escobillero.
Gramillero: knowledgeable grandfather wise in the ways of wild herbs and their healing properties; he is the true seed, exuding joy, experience,and pleasure contagious to all around him; king of the tambores, all-knowing sage full of memories and remembrances. El Gramillero embodiment of candombe.
Isla de Flores: the main street that joins Cuareim and Ansina, Montevideo's two main candombe social groups. For over a century, spontaneous cuerdas have paraded on this street, and continue to do so today. Also known by its second name, Carlos Gardel, after the greatest tango singer of all time.
Lubolo: a white performer who paints his face black to perform during Montevidean carnival.
Mama Vieja: the matron of candombe and the Gramillero's mate; dressed in her simple, handmade dress, she dances slowly and fans herself nervously while keeping the Gramillero dancing nearby.
Milongon: a slow candombe.
Morenos: pleasant term used to refer to black persons in Uruguay.
Piano: largest and lowest in pitch of the three tambores, its head measures 16 inches in diameter; responsible for the rhythmic base of candombe, its rhythmic function is similar to the upright or electric bass.
Repique (ricochet): its name tells us this tambor embellishes candombe's rhythm with improvised phrases; its head measures 12 inches in diameter.
Tambor: candombe drum ( tambor piano, tambor chico, tambor repique).

Candombe is for people of all ages. Uruguayan children begin to learn about candombe at a very early age.
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