Cumbia Information

Cumbia is a Colombian musical style and folk dance that is considered to be representative of Colombia, along with Vallenato. Cumbia originated from the Caribbean coast of easter Colombia, with folkloric variants in Panama. Cumbia began as a courtship dance practiced among the African slave population that was later mixed with European instruments and musical characteristics. It was also used during the Colombian struggle for independence as an expression of resistance against Spain, therefore, most of its songs' messages were related to freedom or slavery. Cumbia is very popular in the Andean region and the Southern Cone and was until the early 1980s more popular in these regions than the salsa.

It is often asserted that Cumbia is a variant of Guinean cumbé music. However, it should be noted that the rhythm of Cumbia can be found in music of Yoruba , and in other musical traditions across West Africa. Cumbia started in the North American coast of what is now Colombia and Panama, mainly in or around Cartagena during the period of Spanish colonization. Spain used its ports to import African slaves, who tried to preserve their musical traditions and also turned the drumming and dances into a courtship ritual. Cumbia was mainly performed with just drums and claves.

The slaves were later influenced by the sounds of Amerindian instruments from the Kogui and Kuna tribes, who lived between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Montes de María in Colombia and Kuna Yala in Panama. . Millo flutes, Gaita flutes, and güiros were instruments borrowed from these Native American tribes. The interaction between Africans and Amerindians under the Spanish caste system created a mixture from which the gaitero appeared, with a defined identity by the 1800s. The European guitars were added later through Spanish influence. According to legend, the accordion was added after a German cargo ship carrying the instruments sank as a load of accordions washed ashore on the northwest coast of Colombia.

Wikipedia, Cumbia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumbia (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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