The Carnival groups in Santa Cruz de Tenerife grow in terms of both size and technique as the festival itself gets bigger and better. The colourful "comparsa" bands, the "murga" street music groups playing their satirical songs on instruments made of rods and cardboard, and the "rondallas" playing traditional old carnival songs are the undisputed stars of the show.
Documentary references to the traditional comparsa groups date as far back as the early 19th century. And already in the 1910s, mentions were made in the media of the comparsas, rondallas and parrandas. But it was not until after that, with the competitions, that the differences between each of these Carnival groups was clearly defined.
Allow us to explain. The so-called "murgas" emerged in the nineteen twenties and thirties and became more popular with the establishment of the Winter Festivals. The songs sung by the murga groups that took shape in several of the capital's neighbourhoods, have a distinctly critical, ironic and satirical tone, questioning the political and social reality of their time. Of all the murgas, the pioneer group was named "Ni Fú Ni Fá" (meaning neither her nor there).
The "comparsas", on the other hand, represent the Brazilian influence on Tenerife's Carnival, filling it with rhythm, colour and joy. Nowadays, the comparsas own the street with the undeniable quality of their live performances to surprise even the most frequent carnival-goers on their nights out.
The "rondallas" were the first musical groups formed in the Santa Cruz Carnivals and reflect the deep musical passion of Tenerife's people. These groups, whose performances focus on vocal techniques, feature professional singers offering their own renditions of cultural songs accompanied by string instruments.
The rest of the groups are more geared towards playing the latest in Latin-style music. These are the latest groups to find their place on the Carnival scene and are an example of the freedom of expression that Santa Cruz is proud to encourage in its various festivities.