Thursday, 4 May 2017

The origin of music in Colombia

By Camila Valencia (1st semester FIGRI student, level 4 English)

Nowadays, music is something that transcends in societies. It is a medium that transmits our thoughts and feelings, but also lets us know a bit more about other cultures. Colombia is a multicultural country, which makes our musical genres very diverse. Every department is characterized by having different musical genres to other departments.

However, many of us don’t know where all this music which represents us as Colombians came from! It dates back centuries, when the Spanish conquered us. They brought two new cultures that mixed with our indigenous culture. The first came because of the Africans, who were brought as slaves. They had a big influence in the Pacific Coast, where they mixed their culture with the religious songs and prayers that the Spanish had taught them. This, added to instruments like "marimbas de chonta" and "guases" created currulao.

Vallenato originated from old songs from the livestock areas of Valledupar. It was played with drums with a single lid or "cajas" and the songs were aimed at social criticism, or told stories about the people from the town. Years after the creation of this musical genre, the Spanish brought us the accordion, the instrument that finally completed it. 

These are just a few examples about where our music has come from. It has had different influences since the conquest of Colombia, but now it's our representation to the world.

However, nowadays music in Colombia has changed, and our culture isn’t as representative as it was before. The arrival of technology has brought a wave of new music that is replacing traditional music like San Juanero or currulao. This means that the vast majority of young people from our country don’t even know these genres. Of course, some genres, like vallenato, are better recognized than others, and likewise some singers, like Shakira, Carlos Vives, J Balvin, and Cabas, are representative of our country, even if the music they play isn’t from our region.

It’s necessary to recognize that with the passing of time, customs are changing, and that’s okay. Receiving new cultures is rewarding for our country, but it’s also necessary we show the world our culture too. Every country has things which represent it, like dances, food, landscapes, tourist areas, and even the people. Music has an important role too, and so it's our duty as Colombians to highlight our own music, and have a balance between the things that come from other countries and the things that are born in our land.

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