Monument to the dance and music of cumbia in El Banco.

Top Things To Know About Colombian Music

One of the top things to know about Colombian music is at present it is represented internationally by the artist Shakira. But what she has provided for the world is just a glimpse the totality. There is much more to the sounds and songs that hail from this part of the globe. And you’d be surprised at how impressive and entertaining local renderings are than what has been shared in mainstream media.

Monument to the dance and music of cumbia in El Banco.

Monument to the dance and music of cumbia in El Banco.

Top things to know about Colombian music is that it is an expression of the country’s culture; a reflection of its history. And as colorful as both are, music from Colombia is also multidimensional, with styles differing between regions. Much of the variety comes from its African, Indigenous, European, American and Caribbean influences, not to mention Cuban and Jamaican. And although one cannot truly say that there is a distinct musical signature to the sounds and songs produced within the country as the same characteristics are shared with other Latin American nations, there are, however, plenty to appreciate about them.

The music of Colombia is usually upbeat and accompanied by string and percussion instruments. But if you study them closely, you’d discover layers of complexity. Traditional Colombian music, for instance, can be classified into four distinct zones – the Atlantic/Caribbean, Pacific Coast, Andean and Easter Plains. And they typically convey unique attributes. Caribbean music, for example, pulsates and vibrates while Pacific music is more percussive and reflective of its Spanish ancestry. Andean music, meanwhile, is often sad and slow, whereas music coming from the Eastern Plains are more melodic.

Two of the musical rhythms that have conquered majority of the country include salsa and vallenato, which are both Caribbean. Salsa music was first born out of Puerto Rico and Cuba. But it eventually spread to Colombia and is now widely practiced and enjoyed. In fact, salsa bands are a very common sight in bars, clubs and restaurants around Colombia. And salsa music is a major influence among contemporary musicians. Vallenato, contrary to salsa, is a music that was discovered out of the country’s very own farmlands. And it actually literally means “born in the valley”. It is specifically played with an accordion and has its own local festival, celebrated during April.

Other than the aforementioned, there are additional top things to know about Colombian music that you should explore.  However it would be more of an experience if you travel there to actually hear them instead of read about them on the internet.


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