This morning when I woke up (admittedly a little later than usual) the burg was quiet. I could hear the cows mooing in the pasture, the lorikeets in the trees and the roosters in the burg announcing to everyone that it was time to start the day. Now, less than an hour later I can hear the big speakers in the square being adjusted for volume with a booming bass beat and the dogs trying to keep tune with them. There are also some men out in the cow pasture yodeling in the Panameño style called Salomas. We live in farming and ranching country and so we hear saloma almost every day. The locals usually like to get a few cervezas into them and then practice at the cantina down the road. Here’s a sample from a competition held at the Tonosí Fair a few years ago:
This one is short but I thought it was just too cute not to share! A proud Mom posted this on YouTube.
I tried to find some information in my research about saloma in English but the best information I could find was a Wikipedia entry in Spanish. I’ve translated it and fixed it up so it makes a bit more sense.
The Panamanian chantey is a guttural utterance of farmers inside Panama . There is a modulation of the vocal cords that goes from a high sound rudimentary cry until the issuance of a uniform sound that forms a musical melody.
It is an expression of indigenous origin that is part of the Panamanian identity, with the key feature being that it does not require musical accompaniment, but has been incorporated into folk and popular typical Panamanian peasant music.
According writings dating from the Conquest of America, a group of Spanish soldiers, after having had a fight with Indians roamed the jungles of the current Panama , along the banks of a river, wounded, hungry and exhausted. As suddenly as it shapes the narrative, they saw a boat coming down the river with a group of natives who succored; they healed the wounds and gave them food. The chroniclers noted this expression: “The Indians came salomando” Maybe they found the indigenous saloma of European sailors. However, the Panamanian saloma has nothing to do with the European concept, The Indian Nation Ngabe the west of the country in their language saved a special term for saloma: “nogonengo”, serving notice that it was known to them before any Spanish contact.
Arguably a saloma subtype exists called The Arrucaos given as screams. The farmers practice alternating single voice and a chorus of three six voices, this occurs in a sort of competition in which participants show better in the shouting. Those who have the skills to issue the throat screams called the “gritaores” or “screamers” are widely respected in the interior communities. ~ Wikipedia ~
Last night we went down to the square to see what was going on. We found out that the crown was being passed to our Calle Abajo Queen at 11:00, which would mean 12:00 Panameño time. None of us wanted to stay out last night waiting so we hung around for a couple of hours and then walked home. The crowd was still small when we left and the music was booming. I did snap a few pictures and I also grabbed a few from FaceBook:
Day One brought a lot loud music and big booms from the BIG FIREWORKS that looked like artillery shells. Now on to Day Two!