:: Influences ::
Afro-colombian musics have inherited their particular features from multiple traditions of Western-Africa. Actually, from the very beginning of the colonial period, the caribean coast of Colombia
has been the point of entry of the Africans abducted and intended for slavery.
In particular, from 1580 to 1640, Cartagena de Indias became the main slave-trading harbour of Hispanic America. In Cartagena were settled the persons in charge of receiving the ships from Africa,
paying the taxes, and selling the captives. The persons intended for slavery were mainly coming from the African harbours of Cabo Verde, Cacheo, Luanda and Sao Tomé. The portugese, the dutsch,
the French and the English have dedicated themselves to this profitable commerce all along the 17th, 18th, and 19th century.
Consequently, it happened that the African population of the Caribean Coast dramatically modified the melodies of the natives, the Europeans, the Spanish and the Anglo-Saxons. They enriched them
with new rythms, different tones, melodic ornaments and rich percussions, thus transforming them into a superb music showing a great strength.
Just as in Africa, the music continues to acompany each and every life-cycle of the afro-colombians : it is used to celebrate new life, to mourn the death, to mark the occasion of a good harvest,
to remember the history of resistance, to refer to god, to inspire love and to stir sensuality.
In each region of the country where descendants of Africans have settled, the Afro-Colombian music shows different shades and personalities.
The cumbia is the main rythm of the Caribean Coast. Its origin dates back to the 18th century, at a time when the melodies of the natives - of a melancholic style - and the African
rythms - where could be heard the cheerful and impetuous sound of drums - have blended together.
The porro is a variant of the cumbia. It was born in the Cartagena de Indias area. Its instrumental accompaniment is the same as in the cumbian, but slower, in order to leave space
for singing. The name of this tone is associated with the one of a single-skin small cone-shaped drum used on the coast to accompany dances.
The bullerengue (or chandé) is one of the most famous tones of the repertoire in the Caribean coast of Colombia. This ritual rhythm belongs to the Afro-Colombian
communities located in Palenque de San Basilio. It is lively and cheerful, full of energy and vital strength, and has got all the characteristics of the African inheritance: drums, singing and
The mapalé has been brought to Colombia during the colonial period by the slaves coming from the Gulf of Guinea. They reinvented it, and adapted it to their new conditions of
live, thus giving it a particular style. Originally, this tone was associated to fishing : a fish named mapalé, caught in big quantities at a certain time of the year by men and women gave its
name to this rhythm.
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