Monday, May 12, 2014

Genre research project 44/1359: Vallenato

Vallenato, along with Cumbia, is the most popular folk music of Colombia. It was born in the 1900s in the Carribean region of Colombia and is traditionally played with accordion, caja and guacharaca. Vallenato has four main rhythm types: son, paseo, puya and merengue. Today Vallenato is also present in Ecuador and Venezuela.

This form of music originated from farmers who, keeping a tradition of Spanish minstrels (Juglares in Spanish), mixed also with the West African-inherited tradition of griots (African version of juglar), who used to travel through the region with their cattle in search of pastures or to sell them in cattle fairs. Because they traveled from town to town and the region lacked rapid communications, these farmers served as bearers of news for families living in other towns or villages. Their only form of entertainment during these trips was singing and playing guitars or indigenous gaita flutes, known as kuisis in the Kogi language, and their form of transmitting their news was by singing their messages.

The first form of Vallenato was played with gaita flutes, guacharaca, and caja, and later adopted other instruments like guitars. These troubadors were later influenced by Europe's instruments: piano and accordion. Shocked with the sound from the accordion, troubadors probably obtained later on accordions from Aruba and CuraƧao. Vallenato was considered music of the lower class and farmers, but gradually started penetrating through every social group during the mid-20th century.


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