The cumbia, traditional rhythm of Colombia


Without a doubt the musical rhythm most linked to Colombia, to its culture and its people, is the cumbia. There is no party or celebration in this country in which the chords do not sound and dance to the sound of the Colombian cumbia. An icon of its national identity.

This lively musical genre and folk dance was born on the shores of the Caribbean, but it quickly became popular throughout the country. In this post we are going to talk to you about its origins, its traditions and many other things related to the cumbia of Colombia.

Origin of the Colombian cumbia

Like so many other artistic and cultural expressions in the world, cumbia is the result of mixing. To trace its origins you have to travel to the XNUMXth century, to the Atlantic coast of what is now Colombia. It was there that cultural elements of three traditions very different: the Native American, European (hand in hand with the Spanish) and the African, brought by the slaves who were brought to the new world.

Each town or cultural tradition contributed a different element. The melodies could be based on aboriginal rhythms, while the themes and lyrics of the songs have clearly Spanish roots. Finally, the protagonism of percussion and African dances They finished off the recipe that in the end would give rise to the Colombian cumbia.

And this is how this fantastic result of a rich and diverse mixture was born.

cumbia, traditional music from Colombia

Cumbia is the most traditional musical rhythm in Colombia

However, the Etymological origin of the word cumbia does not seem so clear. Most scholars defend that it comes from the term kumbe, which means "party" or "sound" in several African languages.

What is beyond doubt is the impressive success of the invention, which from its cradle in Colombia spread over the years to many other countries in Central and South America. Cumbia is currently sung and danced in places as far away from each other as Mexico, Peru, El Salvador, Venezuela, Argentina or Peru.

Colombian cumbia: instruments

Again the triple soul (Amerian, European and African) of the cumbia is perfectly reflected in the musical instruments that are used to interpret it.

The leading role is undoubtedly for percussion instruments. The rhythm of drums,, African cultural contribution, is the backbone of all the compositions. They set the main rhythm and are assisted by indigenous instruments such as the millet cane or bagpipes, of undoubted Spanish origin.


The caña de millo, basic instrument of Colombian cumbia

In cumbia there are three types of drums, Main:

  • El Happy Drum, which follows the rhythm of the melody.
  • El Calling Drum, which is used to set the backing cadence of the song.
  • La Drum. This is the only one of the cumbian drums that does not have African origins. It is struck with the hand, without using drumsticks, both on the skin and on the wooden box.

There are also three types of bagpipes:

  • Male bagpipe, which sounds like background.
  • Female bagpipe, which accompanies the melody.
  • Short bagpipe, used as a solo instrument and has great prominence in the only instrumental pieces.

The cañamillero is an essential performer in every Colombian cumbia group. It is who touches the Millo cane, Wind instrument whose appearance is reminiscent of the transverse flute. As its name indicates, it is made with millet cane, but it can also be made of bone or even bamboo. The maracas, the accordion and other secondary instruments complete the picture.

Colombian cumbia: traditional dresses

Cumbia is not a musical show, but also a visual one. And in this aspect is where the dancers intervene with their colorful traditional clothing. The garments used for the cumbia are also used in other typical Colombian dances.

Colombian cumbia dress

The typical costumes of the Colombian cumbia

  • Women: the costumber orders that the dancers wear the classic white dress with a wide skirt or skirt. This is adorned with ribbons and, almost always, with a bolero to show off the colors of the Colombian flag (yellow, red and blue). They also wear blouses with wide sleeves but that leave the shoulders bare.
  • The man: their clothing is much simpler. It consists of white trousers and shirt and, to give it a touch of color, a red scarf known as the "rooster tail." The fundamental piece of the male suit is the traditional vueltiao hat.

All the details and ornaments of this dress play an important role in the execution of the cumbia dance.

Colombian cumbia: the dance

There are several types of dances and choreographies linked to the Colombian cumbia. These represent especially one courtship dance. Men and women enter the stage from opposite angles. They then come together in the center and dance around each other to the beat of the drums. In this video we have a beautiful example of this dance:

Among the regional modalities or variants The most prominent of the Colombian cumbia include the following:

  • Classic cumbia, not sung. Purely instrumental.
  • savannah cumbia, in which a very peculiar instrument called a lemon leaf is used. It is danced in the departments of Sucre, Córdoba and Bolívar.
  • cumbia vallenata, in which the accordion (the most characteristic instrument of the vallenatos) participates. Within this subgenre of Colombian cumbia there are numerous variants.
  • Cumbiamba. It is danced in the form of a very colorful choral dance.

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  1.   dianite said

    Cumbia, being a typical Colombian dance, can be danced by a group of four women or the homble is necessarily essential.

    Thank you

  2.   Nati Melcon said

    che que vuena pag in Argentina they put us to find out about cumbia what a good pag

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