We are a team of storytellers here to bring you the best Colombia has to offer. On our blog, we answer your most frequent questions and uncover our countries mysteries, culture, and highlights for you.
As a tribute to our culture and as a gift to travelers we want to present the most important music genres of Colombia. The different cultures and lifestyles in Colombia are reflected in various music genres which makes Colombia’s music as diverse as its landscapes! Who knows, maybe you can get inspired to go Salsa dancing, try out some new moves listening to Reggaeton, or going "cowboy style" with Joropo.
As music is one of our vital needs at IMPULSE Travel, we also created Playlists on Spotify and YouTube for the different genres. These could be your trip's soundtrack or your musical souvenir to remember the beauty of our regions and the wonderful experiences you'll be living in this musical country. We are sure there is music for every taste and you might even find a personal favourite.
Vallenato is a legendary music genre of Colombia. Born at the Valle de Upar, next to the Sierra Nevada, and with a huge influence of Spanish minstrels and African griots in lyric style, this music spreads all through the Northern Coast and the whole country. Since 2015 the traditional Vallenato music is considered an intangible cultural heritage by the UNESCO.
The music has a cheerful mood in its rhythm that contrasts with the often sad love stories of its lyrics. There’s always talent in the complexity of accordion soloing, in the high pitched involving vocals, and in the fast-paced rhythm of the "guacharaca" (a wooden, ribbed stick scraped with a fork) and the "caja vallenata" (a small drum, played with the hands and held between the knees).
Salsa Bar Quiebra Canto in Bogotá
Born in NYC out of traditional Latin rhythms from Caribbean countries, Salsa entered Colombia and its flavor permeated throughout our regions resulting in a huge Salsa scene with not only excellent musicians but mesmerizing dancers, and talented singers. Salsa groups are often big demonstrating a huge mastery of synchronicity and timing, and their lyrics tell stories about cities, love, and peculiar humans. This genre bursts with flavour and talent, it is great for dancing and amazing to listen to. Want a prove?
Here you can find our Salsa Playlist on Spotify.
And here on YouTube.
Dancing Salsa is another experience you shouldn’t miss! It is so much fun to move your body to the music and feel it resonating inside of you. Who knows, you might have some Colombian blood in you! Cali, the city of Salsa, would be the first choice if you want to learn some steps and try yourself out on the dancefloor.
However, other cities also have great Salsa bars that you should check out if you won’t make it to Cali.
Check out our Blog Post Best Salsa Bars in Bogotá in which we present three Salsa bars that we have visited, for an unforgettable night of rhythm and fun in Colombia’s capital!
One of the most popular genres in Colombia is Reggaeton, with many artists that are constantly producing new hits which you will hear almost everywhere! Its powerful constant beats and bass lines make a strong ground for dancing and partying, while electronic sounds and fast rap-styled verses give accents to bone-breaking beats. Some Reggaeton music had international commercial success, so you might know some of the songs on the following playlists.
Which songs do you know?
This music is purely regional, originated on the Western coast of Colombia or the Pacific coast, it has a strong influence of African rhythms, instruments, and vocal styles. Its most distinctive sound is the Marimba with its mellow wooden sounds that navigate soloing over constant maraca and drum percussion sounds. Main vocals are often joined by an answering chorus to each verse. Maybe you can join in the singing after listening to our playlists!
Joropo is a regional music deeply rooted in Colombia’s eastern plains and bonded to nature, landscape, and llanero customs and lifestyle. Joropo is often referred as "Música Llanera" (plainsman music) and is easily identified by its distinctive harp soloing, fast-paced maracas, and high pitched loud vocals. Watching a live Joropo band is a mesmerizing show, its musicians overflow with talent, and dancers perform strong rhythmical steps that literally drum the ground at an impressive fast tempo. Have a look at this YouTube Video to get an idea of the dance and music.
One of the most iconic music genres in Colombia is Cumbia. Born and raised here, and adopted by many Latin American countries. It has a mixture of African, Spanish and native Colombian rhythms, giving a strong importance to percussion, and vocals. The genre has remained alive and has been transformed into more modern approximations that involve synthesizers, electric guitars, and even electronic beats. However, the use of "gaitas" (a local wind instrument) is both traditional, contemporary and distinctive of this genre, usually going hand in hand with the notes sung by the lead singer. You can see it being played in the picture.
Still unlabeled as a genre, Colombian Beats refers to contemporary appropriations of local music made by newer generations. Fusing electronic music with traditional genres, new sounds have emerged living up, in the same way, the ancestral rhythms of our enormous sound palette. Many of these songs are part of our party music and are played on the radio, bars, and pubs.
Champeta has a strong African influence. Many of its sounds are similar to music from West Africa and other places in America of African descent. However, Champeta uses plenty of electronic instruments for sound producing. The electric guitar is often played in arpeggio forms, and the beats are often played loud. There is an entire culture behind this genre, having distinctive artworks, dancing styles, and sound systems called "picós".
Hopefully, our little presentation of these genres gives you an insight into the vast and diverse Colombian music culture - and makes you want to listen to this music locally in our country!
Champeta music: https://www.elpais.com.co/files/article_main/uploads/2017/01/31/5891577d6fbc8.jpeg
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