Numbers > Number > The glocalisation of the Carnival of Cádiz in its groups through non-verbal communication. What they say without speaking or singing
Licencia de Creative Commons
ISSN: 1885-365X
FERNÁNDEZ, Estrella Investigador Doctor Contact

The glocalisation of the Carnival of Cádiz in its groups through non-verbal communication. What they say without speaking or singing

20 de septiembre de 2021
3 de octubre de 2021


This article shows the importance that non-verbal communication has in one of the most representative artistic and cultural manifestations of Andalusia: the Cádiz carnival. Through testimonies of protagonists and theoretical research, we expose how carnival groups show social representations thanks to their lyrics and expressiveness. It is a local event that gradually becomes global. This is how the glocalization (with a “c”) of this cultural manifestation appears. The lyrics and music are fundamental in this tradition, but for the first time, we study precisely the importance of its non-verbal communication. This way of communicating reinforces its artistic side and adds communicative potential to this carnival. Non-verbal features also foster the artisanal industry of the city of Cádiz: creation of costumes, staging design, “forillo” and props. In this article, we show how this expressiveness, transmitted through non-verbal communication, gives greater strength to the message sung by carnival groups. With this work, we also incorporate another line of research into the Cádiz carnival, a topic that has been on the rise with a University chair since 2018 at the University of Cádiz.

1. Introduction

The Carnival of Cádiz has been gaining academic relevance for some years now. In 2018, the Chair of the Carnival was created at the University of Cadiz. With this work, we approach the carnival to continue showing a very wide world of creativity, expressiveness and representation. The Carnival of Cadiz is creativity, coplas, criticism and current affairs. It is always a representation of society and of any aspect of life and communication, communication in all its facets, including non-verbal communication, which is the subject of this article.

We approach the subject with the testimony of some of the protagonists and authors of this cultural phenomenon. In this way, we unite the knowledge of participation in the festival with theoretical development and the academic sphere. We try to balance theory and practice with a study as complete as possible that allows us to delve into the audiovisual, artistic and even anthropological fields.

Recent studies have highlighted the importance of the coplas and the compositions of the lyrics and music of this carnival, even stating that they form an independent literary genre (Páramo Fernández-Llamazares, 2017). Certainly, coplas are the basis of Cádiz carnival. Moreover, other publications (Fernández Jiménez, 2015) have highlighted that humour and what is socially understood as rude or scatological usually overshadow its main characteristic, which is creativity. For humour, surprise or the desired laughable effect to be produced, there must be creativity, and carnival groups use, in addition to the sung word, other audiovisual tools to carry out the performance, such as non-verbal communication.

The COAC [Concurso Oficial de Agrupaciones Carnavalescas] has become an audio- visual spectacle, which has often been a criticism of the more modern groups because it seems that here, wearing a black mask gives the benefit of quality, which is not necessarily the case. You simply have to adapt to the times. Before it was only heard on the radio and you saw a photo of it in the newspapers the next day, but nowadays it’s broadcast live on television and posted on the internet herefore […], it has become an audiovisual spectacle and what you see in the theatre are authentic works of art by the artisans who frame you in a framework that makes the spectator see the work you have prepared even more credibly. (Manuel Morera, 2018, statements in the radio program- me Mira que te diga)

The Cádiz Carnival increasingly enriches the performing arts and the cultural industry, which is nothing other than the consumption of culture (Sacaluga and Pérez, 2017). Carnival and its peculiar mode of communication are closely linked to humour, and humour is multifaceted and thought-provoking. A multitude of elements come into play to make people laugh: the content of what is being expressed is fundamental, but equally important is how it is being expressed. An enlightening example of the importance of the non-verbal in culture and humour is the case of the Malaga humorist “Chiquito de la Calzada”, whose way of expressing and representing the action of jokes made him an emblem of humour in Spain.

The phenomenon of glocalisation can be seen in the traditions of Andalusia. The fact that a fiesta with local roots, in which, for example, a lyric dedicated to a neighbourhood in Cádiz expands, can reach all parts of the world thanks to the communicative potential of the coplas and with the help of the media, is something that has been happening over the last three decades. In the same way that its lyrics are expanding, in a society in which images are everywhere thanks to the internet and smartphones, non-verbal communication is also expanding, and this deserves a separate study, thus the purpose of the present work.
The Carnaval de Cádiz groups are made to be heard and also to be seen. Using gestures to resolve a situation in the repertoire is not something new, nor is it entirely influenced by television, an idea held by many fans and authors – that at certain times the influence of television on interpretation is real – but as far back as 1884 in the group “Los Cocineros” there was a case of censorship of a copla in which they sang “El chocolate se hace así, así, así” (Ramos Santana, 2002). That is to say, the non-verbal has always been present in the groups, and a lyric can be censored only because of the gestures made and the grace lies in the non-verbal. Many followers of the Carnival of Cádiz, and I mean the Official Contest of Groupings, continue to defend the radio as the main means of communication, as they like to imagine the type and thus pay more attention to the content of the lyrics without “distractions”, an opinion shared by many, but the truth is that when “va telón/van cortinas ”, the grouping is seen and the “tipo” appears on stage, that is when the riddle-like name that the groupings have been using lately makes sense and, immediately afterwards, it is fixed with the content of the lyrics. “The copla is sung with the chirigota standing still, accompanying it with movements of the arms and gestures that are the salt and pepper with which the lyrics are seasoned. On many occasions, the gesture says more than the lyrics” (Solís, 1966, pp. 8–9). This “salt” and “pepper” is what we highlight in this study as the fundamental ingredients of these creations.

2. What do we see?

When the curtains of the Falla rise, we find the staging and almost always the types, which are the incarnation of an idea or character (Barceló Calatayud, 2016); they are social representations. The embodiment of the type in the costume is the most important visual element of the groupings. It is not only the costume, it goes beyond that because it implies content.

Costume is one of the most characteristic elements of Carnival and also of theatre. In fact, the first requisite for it to be possible consists of the performance of an actor, that is, a person, who momentarily abandons his personality to assume another, to represent someone other than who he really is, before an audience. […] Masks, wigs, costumes, voice imposition, attitudes and gestures, dialect or way of speaking characteristic of the character due to his or her social and geographical extraction, idiosyncrasy, etc. (Cuesta Torre, 2010, pp. 43–44).

It’s not just about dressing up, you have to interpret. In the radio programme Mira que te diga (2018), to the question of whether they feel like actors, taking into account that they have not studied acting, the authors “El Canijo de Carmona”, Manuel Morera and “El Selu” answer the following:
I think so, that a fruit has to move in one way, that a pencil has to move in another, or that a four-colour pen has to be chubby. (“El Canijo de Carmona”).
I think we are acting, we are playing a role with its virtues and its defects. We feel like actors to the extent that the moment we put on our costumes we become someone else, […] when you’re playing you’re making an acting resource. We are not studio actors, but I don’t think we need to be. (Manuel Morera).
Yes, we are pseudo-everything, pseudo-writers, pseudo-musicians, pseudo-actors. We are a project of all that. Then, actors come to you, as many of my friends have come to me, and they value all this very much because they see things that perhaps Carnival people only think of as Carnival, but they perhaps see beyond that […], that with facial gestures and body movements, like the year of “Los Enteraos”, that superiority, the fact that the character speaks to you from above. That is studied and we have been putting it into practice in a more traditional way perhaps. (“El Selu”)

Each Carnival author creates his own poncif, or particular way of writing, his style. And this style differentiates it from other carnivals, as Morera argues:
Here, more than showing off [visually], what we are looking for is to faithfully represent the character or the idea we want to [convey]. So, that’s what I think differentiates it from the rest. And there is one thing in the Carnival of Cádiz that we are using less and less: imagination, turning a colander into a shoulder pad, a brush into the stripes of I don’t know who, making medals out of Sugus…. (Manuel Morera, 2018, statements in the radio programme Mira que te diga).

“Reflective thinking about the joke destroys humour” (Checa and Olmos, 1992, p. 57). We mention this because a cuplé or pasodoble is not explained by the group, or almost never, unless they are linked. On television or on the radio, it is the announcers who are in charge of explaining it between copla and copla if necessary (Fernández Jiménez, 2020b). If in every joke we had to stop to describe and detail the situation, it would no longer be a joke, as these are characterised, among other things, by their brevity.
If we look at the groups that take part in the COAC (Concurso Oficial de Agrupaciones Carnavalescas) and even the street groups, we can propose a classification of types according to what they represent:
a) Types representing allegories. These types are mostly seen in troupes and choirs. b) Types that represent people, either real people (with names and surnames) or social stereotypes. In these types, we see more clearly the representation of society in the Carnival of Cádiz.
c) Types representing animals or humanised things, through prosopopoeia . These types, like the allegorical ones, are not exempt from social criticism in their repertoires and also contain it.

On the other hand, groupings can also be classified according to the type they use:

1) The single type. All the members of the group represent a single character. [Comparsa “El Creador” and “Los Peregrinos” or chirigota “Los Enteraos”].

2) The led grouping. One component is different from the others and in general has an authoritative role. [Chirigota “Una Chirigota con Clase”, “La Maldición de la lapa negra” or “Los Aleluya”].

3) Grouping in which each member has a different role. (Chirigota “Las muchachas del Congelao”, comparsa “Los Carnívales”) and in general all the quartets.

“The carnival costume does not have a practical purpose, but an artistic one” (Cuesta Torre, 2010, p. 46). We understand that in the case of the Carnival of Cádiz, the costume as a type serves to characterise the group and the repertoire, and consequently they are all practical. And then, to a greater or lesser extent, they are artistic. Many carnival types are based on imitations of real people who are parodied.

The influence of globalisation can be seen in many of these types, as many are no longer so local and are based on global characters, such as television series or films (Fernández Jiménez, 2020a).
The caricature may be unfair, erroneous, facile or even of poor quality, but in the worst case it induces us to reconsider the caricatured, to observe it for even a few moments in this new humorous light and to compare the original with its comic reconstruction in order to assess the fidelity of the portrait (Romero Reche, 2008, p. 160).

The success of carnival groups will depend not only on their lyrics, but also on the type they wear that year. If the type “is successful”, the group will automatically form part of the collective imagination and the public will not have to make much mental effort to understand them, since the stereotype helps to anticipate events, to make predictions. On the other hand, the large financial outlay made by the groups to take care of the types is a reflection of the importance they attach to taking care of their appearance in the contest.

This tweet by Manuel Morera (cuartetero) shows that on 4 January the group already had everything ready for that year’s contest in which they won with “El Equipo A minúscula. Comando Caleti”. This quartet parodied the famous TV series “The A-Team” and were dressed as the four members of the team (and one other member), so it was important that they looked like each other. This quartet is a clear example of the glocalisation of the Carnival of Cádiz. In appearance, as we said, they were reminiscent of the television series “The A Team”, hence its global component, but the content was completely local “Comando Caleti”. The non-verbal gave rise to the content of the quartet.

3. What is non-verbal communication?

Everything that is not speech, everything that surrounds us is non-verbal communication: “Non-verbal communication is the sending and/or receiving of information and influence through the physical environment, physical appearance and non-verbal behaviour” (Patterson, 2011, p. 19), that is, our clothes, our hairstyle, our shoes, the way our office or home is decorated. With all this, we are giving and receiving information, albeit unconsciously. We take up Solis’ (1966) idea of salt and pepper. We do not perceive, we are not aware, of these components in the dishes, but if they are not in the right proportion, they can spoil the result by excess or defect. The same happens with the non-verbal.

In carnival groups, the fields of experience (Rodrigo Alsina, 2007) are very important for the proper understanding of the message. When we talk about non-verbal communication, we are not only referring to physical aspects, but also to the sets, props and the backdrop of carnival groups, for example.

Vocal cues refer to various aspects of speech such as volume, pitch, frequency, intonation and pauses. Although these signals can affect the meaning of what we are saying, they are different from the verbal aspects of communication (Patterson, 2011, p. 19). That is, volume, tone, frequency or speed, intonation and pauses are all part of non-verbal communication.

The authors and directors of the groups use these nuances consciously or unconsciously – especially chirigotas and quartets – so that their staging and transmission of their coplas are done in the best possible way.

3.1. Characteristics of non-verbal communication

3.1.1. Incessant (always active)

The non-verbal channel is always active through the visual, auditory, tac tile or olfactory channels;

Sending and receiving information occurs simultaneously in interpersonal communication;

It is produced unconsciously; it is very efficient for the little cognitive effort involved, according to Patterson we are “cognitive cheapskates” (Patteson, 2011, pp. 22–25).

As we said before, we don’t have a complete idea of the type until we see it, either from the theatre itself or from the broadcast of the contest. As it is always active, the moments in which the group between copla and copla does not sing, but performs, are also important.

3.1.2. The context

Another characteristic of non-verbal communication is that it is very much circumscribed to the context in which the communicative action takes place. There is a difference be- tween hearing or seeing a cuplé within the context of the contest or the street, and see- ing or hearing it in isolation, without the context of interpretation.

· “With few exceptions, non-verbal communication only makes sense at the very moment it happens” (Patterson, 2011, pp. 22–25).

· “The meaning of the message is always contained in the context, and never in some isolated movement of the body. […] We will never have a reliable dictionary of unconscious gestures, because meaning must always be sought only within the overall context” (Davis, 2000, pp. 47–48).

· “Most body movements lack a concrete and exclusive social meaning: they ac- quire meaning when they are performed within a given relationship and context” (Baró Catafau, 2012, p. 44).

As Patterson (2011, p. 73) notes, following Hall in his book Beyond Culture (1976), there are two types of cultures: high-context and low-context cultures. In low-context cultures, messages are conveyed in a clear and direct manner, using unambiguous language and clear meaning. In contrast, in high-context cultures messages have to be “read between the lines”. Meaning is not explicit, but implicit. In this culture, non-verbal communication is fundamental in order not to give rise to erroneous interpretations. We consider the Andalusian culture to be a high-context culture, therefore, the social representations of the Carnival of Cadiz would fall into the high-context cultures. This can be related to Roland Barthes’ obvious and obtuse.

3.1.3. Additional information (what the couplet doesn’t tell you)

“Non-verbal communication provides speakers and listeners with additional information about the verbal content and the listener’s expression provides a non-verbal re- action to the speaker’s message” (Patterson, 2011, p. 116). In the case of the Cadiz Carnival, the interaction with the audience and the audience’s reactions are fundamental to understand what is going on. “A gesture can completely override a speech full of arguments” (Baró Catafau, 2012, p. 23). This is what many of the humorous turns of phrase in coplas are about.

Some groups take the risk of basing their “jokes” or humorous jabs on gestures, as either those listening on the radio won’t understand it (as they don’t see it) or the television production may not get there in time or capture the moment. But this is something that is not really paramount when it comes to creating the repertoire. Moreover, it must be emphasised that the performances of the groups are very close to the theatrical gen- re and some of these authors perform for the people in the theatre knowing that perhaps those who are following the contest on the radio will not understand what is happening, or even on television as the gesture will not be captured by the cameras. They assume these consequences for the benefit of a greater dynamism in the performance.

This is really made as theatre, isn’t it? And of course, a play is difficult to broadcast on the radio. So, in the end, if you have to decide, you make a show more for those who see you than for those who hear you, although it’s good that they hear you, but you can’t do without some gesture that will solve some situation of the repertoire for those who are listening to you on the radio, and I prefer to do it (José Luis García Cossío “El Selu”, 2018, statements on the radio programme Mira que te diga).

In the case of quartets, it is very complicated to perform a repertoire with only verbal content (as we say nowadays, as the classic quartets could base a large part of their repertoire on verbal content, being able to remain static on stage). On the radio, the announcers are in charge of explaining what has happened, and on television everything is designed so that the joke is not lost, and if it is lost, the presenters who are in the theatre would come to the rescue of the viewers who have not seen it, explaining what has happened (Fernández Jiménez, 2020b). In street groups, the limitations of the non-verbal are in the physical barriers of the street: crowds, the height of the members and spectators, etc.

4. Creation of social representations through non-verbal communication and their analysis

Television is credited with the high level of detail in the set design and the sophistication of the group make-up. This is acceptable as long as the content of the lyrics is not overshadowed, as we have highlighted above:

It has nothing to do with the fact that if you want the visual image of your group: comparsa, chirigota, chorus… to be more in line with television, you don’t have to abandon the content. What is criticised is that people abandon the content because of that (Antonio Serrano “El Canijo de Carmona”, 2015, interview in Fernández Jiménez, 2016).

In Cádiz, the costumes or types of, for example, the chirigotas are not as ostentatious as in other carnivals (although they can be). And they are not because it is considered that ostentation is not necessary to represent stereotypes of everyday life, which is the basis of this carnival.

When I dressed [the guy in “Los Enteraos”] I had to have an explanation: I put a jac- ket on him that was a bit tight, the guy must be a gentleman, but he was stiff , so his headdress, his hat was very cheap, it was made of straw, the jacket was tight, with many years and all that gave him the sense of the imposture that the character had […] “Los Lacios” was [a guy] very tight. The trousers were very tight, the cardigan was very tight, so that it gave the impression of a character who was overwhelmed, so that with non-verbal language it was seen that he was a character who was uncomfortable, in “the discomfort he lived in”. The fact that he was wearing those clothes made people see him as uncomfortable, restless, and we achieved that result (José Luis García Cossío “El Selu”, 2018, statements on the radio programme Mira que te diga).

From the description of “El Selu” it is clear that we can deduce the psychology of the character and what we can expect from him by observing how he is dressed. We have specified here the case of the chirigota, since in other groups such as the coro and, above all, the comparsa, the “tipos” are very colourful (an example of “El perro andalú”, can be seen in Martínez Ares, 2018). In the chirigotas, the “tipos” are usually branded as rude and grotesque, not without reason, for example “Los pichas de Cádiz” (“El Love”, 2006). “Exaggeration (hyperbolisation) is indeed one of the characteristic signs of the grotesque […] but it is not, however, the most important sign” (Bakhtin, 1990, p. 276). On the other hand, “the mixture of human and animal features is one of the oldest grotesque forms” (Bakhtin, 1990, p. 284), i.e. we would find cases of “theriomorphism” (Durand, 2006, p. 73) or the prosopopoeia we showed above.

It seems that the fiesta alternates the use of oral language with non-verbal languages (kinesics, gestures, postures, body rhythms, communication by touch, by the face, by the use of space, etc.), which would denote the ancient and primitive origin of the Fiesta and its character as a hinge between the human and the pre-human, almost animal. It is also worth noting the very scarce or non-existent use of written language, only in support of the other types and, generally, in a “redundant” way, to clarify certain meanings (Roiz Célix, 1982, pp. 122–123).

Historically, troubadour songs and stories passed down from father to son have endured through word of mouth, but in addition, this transmission also took place “from gesture to gesture”. ‘Words’ are only the beginning, because behind them is the foundation on which human relationships are built: non-verbal communication” (Davis, 2000, p. 21). And sometimes the key to a carnival lyric or story is in the gestures.

Non-verbal communication is made up of the props, the backdrop, the type of the ensembles themselves, etc. and the authors also have to create the gestures, the movements, the pose, the mood and even the timbre and volume of the voice, aspects that cannot be reflected by the lyrics alone. “The visible part of a message is at least as important as the audible part” (Davis, 2000, p. 16), although we must bear in mind that the lyrics together with the music (copla) are and will always be the most important thing in the Carnival of Cádiz. In fact, the lyrics are the most criticised precisely because they do not calibrate the glocal, that is to say, sometimes groups are criticised for singing more to the global and less to the local.

4.1. Analysis of non-verbal communication in Cadiz carnival groups

A multitude of not only quantitative but also qualitative elements must be taken into account for a complete study of this communication (Forner, 1987, p. 51).

In our case, we learn the repertoire and once we learn it, we stand up and begin to interpret the character and finally we do the 4D: a small gesture on the face, or small gestures, details, or tics, which give a lot of quality to what is said (José Luis García Cossío “El Selu”, 2018, statements on the radio programme Mira que te diga).

The carnival group is not finished when the repertoire is written. After the writing process, even during the process itself, the author or director of the group plans the non-verbal expression of all its members. The process of creation and production of an ensemble, including rehearsals, usually takes around five months (Fernández Jiménez, 2020c). To analyse the components and patterns of this non-verbal communication, we will follow Patterson’s (2011, pp. 40-54) scheme:

– A) Fixed characteristics. These are the characteristics that are not going to change in all the performances that the group is going to have.

– A. 1) The design and layout of the space: the props, the backdrop, the elements that will be distributed around the stage in the case of the competing groups or the elements that will be used by the street groups. The placement of the musicians is also taken into consideration when distributing the space. Generally, they are placed behind the vocalists in the comparsas and the chirigotas. It can also happen that they are placed elsewhere, as, for example, in the chirigota “No te vayas todavía “ (“El Bizcocho”, 2017).

In addition to the physical appearance achieved through costume or make-up, the author or director also relies on the natural physical appearance of each performer or ensemble participant, as Morera points out:

There may be people who can be very funny but their gestures, their non-verbal language pulls you back (we use that expression a lot, pulls you back or doesn’t pull you back) and I think there are groups that are very pleasant and groups that pull you back without having a key to say “it’s because of this” […]. It’s a question of that, of non-verbal language, of expression, of the face, of how you move, of how you speak, the tone of voice also has a huge influence on how you say things. I always say that in Cádiz, more than what you say is how you say it. There are a lot of factors that influence it. (Manuel Morera, 2018, statements on the radio programme Mira que te diga)

You even have to be careful to get the roles right. You can’t cast the longest as a straw- berry and the shortest as a banana because you get an amorphous strawberry and a dwarf banana (“El Canijo de Carmona” 2018, statements on the radio programme Mira que te diga).

– B) Dynamic behaviours. Once the character has been anchored by means of the fixed behaviours, the dynamic behaviours are fundamental for the presentation of the repertoire. These are more numerous and more nuanced than the fixed behaviours.

– B. 1) Distance and orientation. The orientation in carnival groups is always facing the audience, just like in a play. Whether in the street or in the theatre, they have to project their voice in the best possible way towards the audience. The distance varies whether it is in the street or in the Falla Theatre.

– B. 2) Visual behaviour. Generally, all the members of the groups, whether in choirs, comparsas, chirigotas, quartets and romanceros, look straight ahead, towards the audience, who are the recipients of their verses and gestures. Antonio Serrano “El Canijo de Carmona” refers to the importance of having big eyes to express well and connect (Antonio Serrano “El Canijo de Carmona”, 2018 statements in the radio programme Mira que te diga)

For example, in the chirigota “Los Enteraos” (“El Selu”, 2009), the character’s looks are fundamental for the transmission of the message (see Figure 3).

– B. 3) Facial expression. “Of all the areas of the body, the face seems to elicit the best external and internal feedback, which facilitates adaptation to a wide variety of facial expression rules” (Knapp, 1995, p. 252). One of the distinctive aspects of the Cadiz Carnival compared to other carnivals is that the Cadiz Carnival does not use masks or masquerades. Most of the time they represent social stereotypes, people, and only make use of make-up. The use of masks would not allow the voice to be projected when singing.

– B. 4) Posture and movement.

Postures, as static (since what can make them “move” will be a manner or mode) and equally conscious or unconscious, are also ritualised and, as in the case of manners, less used as forms of a communicative repertoire, although, like gestures and manners, they communicate gender, social position, cultural origin, mood, etc. anyway (Poyatos 1994: 201). (Poyatos 1994: 201). [Author’s italics] These two components, like the previous ones, will depend on the type represented by each group and also on the modality to which it belongs.

– B. 5) Gestures. “Gestures are movements of the hands, arms and even the head that are closely related to the verbal content of the message” (Patterson, 2011, p. 49). The Carnival of Cádiz is the carnival of coplas (Páramo, 2017), but kinesics as well as gestures have a great weight in the groupings beyond the quartet, as we show in this work. The groups do not need to move much to transmit their lyrics, but we believe that movement is fundamental and should not be relegated in importance, as in addition to the text, all the elements mentioned here come into play, thus raising their potential to transmit the coplas.

– B. 6) Body contact. As in any other theatrical performance, the body contact between the performers will depend on the type, person or character they are portraying. The members can push each other, hit each other, hug each other and even kiss if the lyrics and the character require it.

– B. 7) Vocal behaviours. “Vocal behaviours refer not to what is said, but to “how” it is said. This includes pitch, intensity, emphasis and tempo of speech. (…) speakers’ ac- cents often tell us about their places of origin” (Patterson 2011, p. 52). In other words, paralanguage informs us of elements that go beyond the words, or in our case, the lyrics of the couplets . As Manuel Morera points out:

The situation arises and then you see that a gesture, an expression or a phrase fits that situation. [For example, “Don Antonio” was not written “Don Antonio” on the paper, or maybe it was written “Don Antonio”, I don’t remember. But the way of interpreting it is Carlos’s, that is, that “Don Antonio” is his in every rehearsal and if we like it, it stays. (Manuel Morera, 2018, statements on the radio programme Mira que te diga)

“The variations [of an actor’s vocal expression and mimicry] are dictated by the dramatic situations and by the demands of the staging” (Kowzan 1997, p. 61). Another element to consider within non-verbal communication is the accent adopted by the groups: on many occasions, carnival groups adopt the accent of the social group they are re- presenting, thus incorporating non-verbal aspects into the verbalisation of the content. It refers to how it is said, not what is said, so it is part of non-verbal communication.

– B. 8) Olfactory signals. One of the channels that is always active is the olfactory channel, and carnival groups also have it in mind. Already in 1964 Paco Alba acclimatised his performance of “Currusquillos gaditanos” with the smell of cinnamon; in the chirigota “Ricas y Maduras” (“El Canijo de Carmona”, 2011) the members used to spray themselves with fruity cologne before going out; the chirigota “¡Viva la Pepi! (“El Selu”, 2012) used air fresheners in their performances, or the Coro “La Boutique” (Francisco Martínez Mora, 2014) smelled of chocolate.

All these components together, or separately, transform the members of the ensembles into actors and produce a fictional pact without any effort on the part of the spectator.

As we were saying, carnival authors and directors, perhaps unconsciously, take all these elements of non-verbal communication into consideration at all times and use them to ensure that their group transmits the ideas they want to express.

5. Conclusions

Non-verbal communication is a fundamental tool for the representation of society in the Cadiz Carnival. In addition to the content of the coplas (lyrics and music), we must not underestimate the importance of the props, the utensils, and above all the type, the gestures, the movements, the timbre and the tone with which things are said. These important elements help the authors and actors to show in the best possible way the type or character they are representing.

We have seen that the glocalisation achieved by the Cadiz carnival groups is to a certain extent achieved thanks to their non-verbal communication. It can happen that without listening to the lyrics, a fundamental component of the groups, a group manages to attract attention or, on the contrary, achieve the opposite result, causing rejection by excess or by defect.

Salt and pepper, as Solís (1966) pointed out, we know is the garnish for main courses and the garnish for verbal communication. But after this study, instead of the garnish, perhaps we could treat the non-verbal as a garnish that accompanies the main course. It would be too risky to say that non-verbal communication is the main thing, even an exaggeration since, as Páramo (2017, p. 115) points out, “This is a contest of coplas, not of performing arts, although these help to provide a more attractive and effective packaging for the carnival coplas”. Even so, the non-verbal is of great importance in the Cadiz groupings and sometimes it is not only part of the packaging and goes beyond it, as we have shown here.

As a secondary conclusion, we can see that the Carnival of Cadiz is not only an inexhaustible source of anthropological, artistic, historical and social studies, but also for audiovisual communication studies, as it constantly activates the senses of hearing (audio) and sight (visual), and in the latter the non-verbal is crucial.

<< Back to nº index See next article >>
Colabora en los próximos números de Comunicación y Hombre
Replicantes, impostores y sustitutos: comunicación e inteligencia artificial