Mestizo culture in north and west Belize, and also Guatemala, is dominated by marimba, a xylophone-like instrument descended from an African instrument. Marimba bands use trap drums, double bass and sometimes other instruments. Famous performers include Alma Belicena and the Los Angeles Marimba Band.
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The Garifunas are descended from slaves enslaved from Nigeria and who later escaped from St. Vincent. Eventually migrating to Belize in 1802, the Garifunas kept themselves apart from the social system then dominant, leading to a distinctive culture that developed throughout the 20th century.
Garifuna music is similarly different from the rest of Central America; the most famous form is punta. An evolved form of traditional music, still usually played using traditional instruments, punta has seen some modernization and electrification in the 1970s; this is called punta rock. Traditional punta dancing is consciously sexy and competitive. Artists like Pen Cayetano helped innovate modern punta rock by adding guitars to the traditional music, and paved the way for later artists like Andy Palacio, Children of the Most High and Black Coral. Punta was the most popular form of Belizean music by the mid-1980s, culminating in the release of Punta Rockers in 1987, a compilation featuring many of the genre's biggest stars.
Other forms of Garifuna music and dance include chumba and hunguhungu, a circular dance in a three beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta. There are other songs typical to each gender, women having eremwu eu and abaimajani, rhythmic a cappella songs, and laremuna wadauman, men's work songs. Other forms of dance music include matamuerte, gunchei, charikawi and sambai.
Paranda music developed soon after the Garifunas arrival in Belize. The music is instrumental and percussion-based. The music was barely recorded until the 1990s, when Ivan Duran of Stonetree Records began the Paranda Project.