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The purest representation of African, indigenous and Spanish fusion and Colombia’s most significant musical art form, cumbia originated on the Caribbean coast as instrumental music created with drums, bagpipes and maracas. The word cumbia is a derivative of the African word “cumbé,” which means party or celebration.

Cumbia is considered by many the queen of Afro-Caribbean rhythms, yet to get to what it is today, this musical genre has transcended races, cultural backgrounds and social classes. During the 1930s, cumbia rose from the working classes to the urban high society of Colombia, validating itself as an authentic art form. As it gained popularity, it added lyrics and instruments like the accordion. Today three types of cumbia prevail: classic cumbia, which is instrumental; modern cumbia, with various drums and animated lyrics; and cumbiamba, differing from cumbia in both musical instruments and dance rituals. With Spanish-inspired clothing—long skirts for women and hats and red handkerchiefs for men—the dancing portion of cumbia is a courtship ritual that follows the beat of African drums with a style of indigenous movements.

The rhythms of cumbia have spread all through Latin America. Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru and other countries have developed a taste for creating and dancing the Colombian sound, but with their own national flavors.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Colombia: Colombian Culture: Cinema, Colombian Culture: Museums, Shakira, Colombian Culture: Art, Colombian Culture: Literature, Colombian Culture: An Introduction, Colombian Culture: Theater, Colombian Culture: Comedy, Colombian Culture: Dance and Colombian Culture: Music.

27 Sep 2011

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