Passion for the thunderous sound with which you can feel how your skin vibrates and bristles
OF THE MUL’S DRUMS
MULA'S DRUMS HISTORY
Although the origin of the “tamborada” (drum parade) is uncertain, it seems like it appeared in the first half of the 19th century. Already in the municipal ordinances of 1859, there was an intention to ban the tradition of playing drums outside the procession during the Holly Week:
In the processions, the participants must keep the orderliness and composure, and in any case, it is banned to walk on the streets with drums, except for those few drummers with the authority’s permission who have been appointed by the Carmen’s Brotherhood, and even those will only go in the procession…”.
Municipal ordinances of Mula, 1859.
Also, it was forbidden what it was called the “joke nazarenes”, who were the Mula guys attired in the penitent robes and pointed hoods from the brotherhoods where they belonged to, and they were joking and flirting with the girls on their way to the processions. They were taking advantage of the anonymity of their faces covered, in the purest carnival masquerades style. The most conservative people in the town were not happy about it, and they were pleading for the cogitation that was required by the church during the Holly Week.
The prohibition of playing drums caused the opposite effect as it just increased the number of adepts. So much so that the “tamborada” was already consolidated in 1875. By then, nazarenes and drum formed an indivisible whole, developing as a practice that would become tradition over the years.
THE HISTORIC EVOLUTION
At the end of the 19th century, the “tamborada” had many adepts, the majority of them from the town. The most conservative factions of the town, who were the wealthy classes and the clergy, were opponents of the practice of banging drums as they understood the Holly Week as a time for cogitation to commemorate the Passion of Christ. It is surprising that despite the opposition of those who run Mula, the “tamborada” remained alive, although the dates and times for drumming started to be regulated. So in 1892:
“We believe we can assure that this year there will be drums and nazarenes until the time of the Holly Wednesday’s procession, and in the following days, the drums or the covered nazarenes will not be allowed at all”. The News of Mula, 27th March 1892.”
The attempt to regulate the already consolidated “tamborada” affronted the rebellious character of the young drummers of Mula, who did not hesitate to gather together against the rulers, as stated in a newspaper in 1908.
It seems like at the beginning of the 20th century, the “tamborada” was still a relief for the more humble population, rather than a delight in playing drums. They were taking advantage of the crowd and anonymity to show their discontent. So much so that they were using oil cans, boilers and bugles to add noise to the revelry as no everyone had the possibility of buying or making themselves a drum. The different politic factions also influenced the confrontations.
The discontent of the rulers with the “carnival” during the Holly Week and the impossibility of banning it due to the large amount of participants lead to an increasing reduction in the number of hours when drumming was allowed. Those hours were reduced to as much as only four hours during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, although curiously, it was allowed to walk wearing the penitent robe during more hours on different days.
After the fall of the tradition during the dictatorship and the later “Soft Dictatorship” of the General Dámaso Berenguer, the “tamborada” returned to normal with the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic. With the advent of Franco dictatorship, the “tamborada” remained alive as the power of the mass of adepts made it unthinkable to ban the drumming. However, a new obstacle arose when the rulers imposed a tax on drumming.
The “tamborada” survived in those conditions during the years of dictatorship until the advent of the Democracy, when it started to look more like a festivity.
In its origin, the attire of the “joke nazarenes” at the beginning of the 19th century or even towards the end of the 18th century should have been the own outfit from each processional float, that is, the penitent robes of each brotherhood, so there would have been different colours. This is because the guys would have been joking on their way to each procession, taking advantage of the anonymity that the pointed hood provided.
Gradually, the penchant for joking during the Holly Week widely spread among the youngest guys in Mula, regardless they were linked to a brotherhood or not. So those who did not have a penitent robe would take any robe and pointed hood from the spare rags that they had at home. This seems to be the origin of the percaline robe since it is a very cheap fabric.
We know that in 1875, they did not only use black robes but also blue or purple robes:
“Some happy and funny young guys, following the traditional practice of producing those scenes, dressed as nazarenes with clothes of black, blue or purple percaline and a mask, and they walked along the poorly paved streets and squares while playing the drums”. Newspaper The Constitutional of Alicante, 9th – 13th November 1875.
Newspaper The Constitutional of Alicante, 9th – 13th November 1875
Over time, the use of the black robe was extended, as well as a hood of the same colour that replaced the pointed hood.
COME TO KNOW THE CITY
Mula, city of the drum, is an experience, a cultural delight that awaits its visitors with the calm of history
José Antonio Zapata y
Juan Fernández del Toro