Post Modern Cumbia Blog

CUMBIA …styles in Colombia

Types of Colombian cumbias
Classic Cumbia:
Played with a Kuisi sigí (male gaita) and a Kuisi bunzí ( female gaita). Gaitas are sorta long wooden flutes made by the native american where the sound of the male gaita “chased” the female sounds. Basically the rythms from the African Yoruba religion, (more specifically the rythms for the God Obatalá) mixed with these native melodies from the Kogui tribe from north of Colombia and the classic Cumbia was born.
Classic Cumbias are never sung, they are instrumentals which are supposed to be danced.
the gaitas are played with maracas and a basic drum.

Modern Cumbia:
Other instruments such as la caña de milo (shorter wooden flute), drums such as tambor llamador which keeps the basic beat playing along with the Tambora or Bombo which is the bigger one and makes the bass sounds and the Alegre drum which improvises and embelishes the groove.
Other instruments in this type of Cumbia include piano and guacharaca. There are lyrics and different variations of cumbia such as mapalé which is a lot faster and very very sexual. I’ve seen very few peolple who aren’t black who can dance this the right way. Other variants of the Cumbia are Bullerengue,Saloma, Gaita (don’t confuse with the instrument), Porros which have two types: Porro palitiado and Porro tapao depending on the way you strike the drum with sticks. There are more variations but sorry…I’m not a folklor student.
Joe Arroyo and a Modern cumbia (with lyrics)

Cumbia Vallenata :
This is the famous cumbia known around the world with heroes such as Andres Landero A.K.A The King of Cumbia (eventhough he didn’t like the name Vallenato) very well known by Mexicans. Great songwriters Alfredo Guttierrez and Lisandro Mesa who were members of the Corraleros del Majagual (the Colombian Fania allstars jeje) were also very popular in Colombia and internationally.
This type of Cumbia combines the elements of the Classic and Modern Cumbias, it has instrumentals and it is sung. The accordeon is used but Andres Landero The Cumbia King who was a gaitero from a family of gaiteros from San Jacinto
played in a different way which was more of a gaitero’s angle of looking at music.
Andres Landero , The King of Cumbia with a song called “Raros gaiteros” or Wierd Gaita players.

Tropical Cumbia or Brass Cumbia:* I know…. tropical cumbia/ oxymoron.
It started in the mid 1950’s when big cuban bands were the thing with all their trumpets, timbales and big sound fused with cumbias and porros and Gaitas. see Rodolfo Aicardi, Sonora Dinamita and the great Fruko or Ernesto Estrada who was in the Corraleros as musical director and later with in his own band “Fruko y sus Tesos” fused hard 70’s salsa with cumbias and other colombian riddims.
This is a Gaita rythm called “la Piojosa” from Sonora Cienaguera . enjoy

La Piojosa – Sonora Cienaguera by ebiruojaba

Postmodern Cumbias: from early 70’s to now. Think Sly Stone and James Brown doing CUMBIA, that was COLUMNA DE early 70’s Colombian rock band

Cumbia de La Columna de Fuego by ebiruojaba

After JOE ARROYO’S fusions of Salsa, Champeta,Soca,Cumbia and Reggae (See La Noche) hit bigtime throuhgout the 80’s it became normal for young rockers in the 90’s to fuse rock elements with cumbia’s and other folkloric music. Important bands came out such as La Provincia with the the great guitar player Teto Ocampo. La Provincia later did a hard Funk rock cumbia champeta experiment under the name Bloque de Busqueda later shortened to Bloque a band that played all over the world, funkifying afrocolombian music and experimentation whose musicians later worked with Richard Blair ,a Brit who worked with Peter Gabriels Real World music label and was engineering and producing albums with the great Folklorist Totó la Momposina and was behind Carlos Vives’s huge commercial breakthrough.
With all these riddims and peolple beside him Richard Blair created Sidestepper, mixing the british electronica dub scene with afrocaribbean riddims in the early 90’s.

By this time rock band “Los Aterciopelados” fused punk rock vibe and modern cumbia’s with their cover of Lisandro Mesa’s hit song “La Baracunatana.” Years later one half of the duo Aterciopelados Hector Buitrago would release his solo album Conector where he has tradtional cumbia singers mixed with electronica and middle eatern elements.
The name of the song is Damaquiel featuring the great Burro Mocho , I’ll do a post on Burro Mocho later..
Postmodern cumbia from 2006:


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