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Cumbia [ˈkumbja] folkloric rhythm and dance from Colombia. It began as a courtship dance practiced among the Indigenous population on the Caribbean coasts of Colombia. It later mixed with African and European instruments, steps and musical characteristics. By the 1940s cumbia began spreading from the coast to other parts of Colombia alongside other costeña form of music, like porro and vallenato. Clarinetist Lucho Bermúdez helped bring cumbia into the country's interior. The early spread of cumbia internationally was helped by the number of record companies located on the coast. Originally a working-class populist music, cumbia was frowned upon by the elites, but as the music pervaded class association with the music subsided in Colombia and cumbia became a shared music in every sector of society.
It has components from three cultures, principally indigeous and Black African and, in lesser extent, white (Spanish), fruit of a long and intense interbreeding between these cultures during the Conquest and the Colony. The researcher Guillermo Abadía Morales in his "Compendium of Colombian folklore", Volume 3, # 7, published in 1962, states that "this explains the origin in the zambo conjugation of musical air by the fusion of the melancholy indigenous gaita flute or caña de millo, i.e., Tolo or Kuisí, of Kuna or Kogi ethnic groups, respectively, and the cheerful and impetuous resonance from African drums. The ethnographic council has been symbolized in the different dancing roles that correspond to each sex." The presence of these cultural elements can be appreciated thus:
In instrumentation are the drums of African origin; maracas, guache and the whistles (caña de millo and gaitas) of indigenous origin; whereas the songs and coplas are a contribution of Spanish poetics, although adapted later.
Presence of sensual movements, distinctly charming, seductive, characteristic of dances with African origins.
The vestments have clear Spanish features: long polleras, lace, sequins, hoop earrings, flower headdresses and intense makeup for women; white shirt and pants, knotted red shawl around the neck and hat for men.

Source: Wikipedia

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