NPR’s Alt Latino Podcast on Cumbia


This post is also available in: Español

I like to share good content from where ever it comes, and I highly recommend NPR’s Alt. Latino podcast on Cumbia music.

Insights on Cumbia

Cumbia instruments
Instruments used to play Cumbia. These have evolved to include brass instruments.

I really enjoyed this podcast on Cumbia and learned a few things I’ll briefly share below.

This rhythm originated in the coasts of Colombia (I knew that much), and the word “cumbia” is believed to be from West African origin, either from the Kikombo or Bantu cultures.

It’s origins trace back to the mid-1800s, with early instrumentation consisting of a type of tambora, guiro, maracas, and gaitas (flutes).

Its early form of dance was characterized by using close steps. This is because the slaves that developed it were in shackles while dancing.

After the 1940s it became more orchestrated and spread rapidly throughout Latin America. There are Argentine, Bolivian, Chilean, Dominican, Ecuadorian, Mexican, Peruvian, Salvadoran, Uruguayan, Venezuelan, and Panamanian cumbias.

While in the ’70s I was immersed in the Fania Salsa boom, I didn’t know Cumbia music was so prevalent with Latinos in other parts of the United States, particularly the west coast.

Alt. Latino Podcast

Check out the Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd fantastic podcast below, or at their website HERE.

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