Bagpipes, guaches, maracas and drums give life to one of the most representative rhythms of the Caribbean region of Colombia: the cumbia, whose sound encourages dancers, dressed in wide colored skirts, candles and hats, to adorn their melodies. with soft and graceful steps.
A rhythm and dance, whose history and most listened successes return to the memory of Colombians on this date, regarding the celebration of the National Day of Cumbia, which was born from a fusion of indigenous cultures, Afro-descendant communities and Hispanics in the 17th century, in the midst of the Spanish colony.
To commemorate this date THE NEW CENTURY consulted Manolo Bellóna renowned Colombian writer, broadcaster and music critic, has already Willy Vergara, radio announcer of Colombia’s National Radio, about the five most emblematic songs of cumbia in the country.
1. “The colored skirt”
This piece, from the musical authorship from John Baptist Wood Castrowas born in the early 1990s, when the maestro arrived in Barrancabermeja to join the Pedro Salcedo Orchestra, where he played the clarinet.
Amid the sound of joints, merecumbés and fandangos, Madera Castro felt that a rhythm was missing that would pay homage to the skirts that moved to the rhythm of the music. And it is there, on a night in this city of Bumanga, that the teacher, originally from Since, Sucre, came up with the musical part of “La pollera colorá”.
After a few days of fame in various places in the Santander region with this cumbia, Wilson Choperena, who was the lead singer of the Pedro Salcedo orchestra, decided to create the lyrics for this piece that made the audience dance for several nights.
Thus was created before the spectators for those days, and some years later for the world, a melody that has been heard until today, from generation to generation.
Currently, “La pollera colorá” It is considered a Colombian anthem and the name of its musical composer, Juan Bautista Madera Castro, is present as that master of Colombian music who left a legacy to the country with this iconic piece.
2. “Cumbia Cienaga”
More than 70 years ago this cumbia was born, created by Andres Paz Barros. However, the history of this song goes back a few years, since it was in 1937 that the Cienaguero composer wrote this piece with the title “The bawdy bed” which was performed by various orchestras.
Fifteen years later, in 1951, this same song was recorded, but changing its name to “Cumbia Cienaguera”, with the lyrics of Stephen Montano. At that time, this musical project had the participation of the accordionist Luis Enrique Martinezteacher Jose Barros with an introduction on his tambora and the female choir of the band The Pueblans.
Its success has gone around the world, as it has been performed by multiple groups and orchestras, in addition to making some appearances in film productions.
3. “Cumbia Sampuesana”
One afternoon, in the house of Mrs. Ana Perfecta Galván, where many muleteers came to rest, the teacher Jose Joaquin Bettin Martinez he takes his accordion and begins to compose melodies, inspired by the twinkling of the fireflies that arrived at nightfall at that moment. There the composer created this work, one of the most important in Colombian folklore.
This piece was so iconic for the national culture that it was the protagonist of several milestones such as the announcement of the Nobel Prize for Literature for Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in which Emiliano Zuleta decided to celebrate it by performing this musical work. Likewise, great artists have managed to conquer important stages with the “Cumbia Sampuesana” as Israel Romero and Aniceto Molinaamong others.
Bettín Martínez, born on October 22, 1920 in Sampués, Sucre, grew up with his brothers Gregorio and Pedro, whom he admired for their talent when playing the clarinet. The composer had that same musical vein, but he would not follow in the same footsteps as his brothers, since what really moved his passion was playing the snare drum, the snare drum and the accordion.
During his youth he enjoyed watching the musical shows of the accordionists, where he met Heriberto Villamil, with whom he played the tambora and learned to play the accordion under the supervision of Alfredo Gutierrez and Poldo Salazar. During his next years he would manage to compose “Cumbia Sampuesana”, the song that would change his life.
4. “My name is cumbia”
In 1969 this cumbia was born thanks to the poetry of Jesus Arturo Garcia Penaknown as ‘Gareña’, who died in August of last year and who is also remembered for pieces such as “I leave the city without me”, “Amor a Dios”, “Raza”, “La traga maluca” and “Dulce sultana”.
Since the 1950s, this piece by the Barranquilla native, born in 1931, began to be heard everywhere, and was also performed by music greats such as Totó La Momposina, La Sonora Dinamita and Puerto Candelariaamong other stars of national folklore.
According to experts, this song collects the history of cumbia and pays homage to the culture that makes up this traditional rhythm; a style that characterized his music, which highlighted a fusion between melodies from indigenous, black and European communities.
5. “Black dance”
Pedro Laza was the one who composed this piece in 1960which became another Colombian cultural anthem, not only when the teacher Jose Barros recorded a new version, but also introducing the stereo sound in the country’s phonographic history.
Laza was born on December 2, 1904 in Cartagena, he fought against all odds, of course, also with his father’s refusal to dedicate himself to music, to take the path of the sound arts.
With thunderous style Pedro left classic music lovers like “From tingo to tango”, “Sperma and rum”, “Fandango”, “The fisherman”, “Fiesta and corraleja”, “Mapalé”, “Porro”, “Colombian percussion”, “Slave rite”, “This is how I like chickens”, “Hot bread”, “La machaca” and “Joyful Cartagena”among others.
The announcers also stand out among the list of these iconic cumbia songs, works such as “Danza negra” by Lucho Bermúdez, “Cumbia del Caribe” by Edmundo Arias and “Cumbia en dominant” by Efraín Herrera.
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National Cumbia Day: five emblematic songs