The Cumbia Caribean Coast
Instruments of the Cumbia

The Cumbia is a type of music in which the influence of the three races is equally strong.  This can be seen, for example, in the set of instruments used: Drums (calling, merry and bass drums), that come from the African people and give rhythmic support to the Cumbia; wind instruments (Gaitas, flautas de Millo), that were original from the native Colombians and carry the melody and counter melody and the harmonic and melodic structure from the European music and dances.  Finally, another important feature is the same lead voice and answering pattern present on the Currulao, which also comes from African influence.  

The Cumbia has a binary rhythmic structure and is more usually written in a 2/2 measure.  This type of music is one of those that makes you feel like moving:  My girlfriend once told me, "you have live for too long in Colombia if the sound of cumbia produces in you a desire to clap with the music, that is impossible to resist" and a Colombian friend that went to my presentation told me, "when you played the Cumbia, I had to make an effort to prevent myself from dancing".   Since is streamed directly from my server, please be patient because sometimes is a little slow.

Male Gaita Gaitas Female Gaita

Now I want to tell you about a collective wind instrument of native Colombian origin used in the Cumbia. This instrument is composed of two long flutes called Gaitas: A male, which has only one hole and the female which has five holes.  The male gives rhythmic and harmonic support to the female which carries the melody.  They are supposed to be played always together,  in fact,  they are made at the same time in such a way that for any given male or female Gaita there is only one partner it sounds really well with.   The mouthpiece is built with bee wax hardened with coal dust and a feather tube is used to blow the air into the opening.  In the next Cumbia we can listen to both of them.  If you pay attention, you will be able to clearly tell them apart.

Flauta de Millo
Flauta de Millo
Flauta de Millo
The last instrument related to Cumbia I want to talk about is a very interesting flute of native Colombian origin called la flauta de Millo.  This flute, like the female Gaita, is also used to carry the melody.  It is made with Millo cane, and has a reed which gives it a very particular sound.  The following Cumbia is a more modern Cumbia and as soon as this flute starts playing you will immediately recognize it.
Contents Next
Español About Me
if you have any comments you can leave them in the guestbook or send them to .