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Origins of Mexican Cumbia
The Cumbia started in Colombia in the 1800s. In the 1940s Colombian singer Luis Carlos Meyer Castandet emigrated to Mexico where he worked with the Mexican orchestra director Rafael de Paz. In the 50s he recorded what many people think was the first cumbia recorded outside of Colombia, La Cumbia Cienaguera. He recorded other hits like La historia. This is when Cumbia began to be popularized in Mexico.
In the 70s Aniceto Molina also emigrated to Mexico, where he joined the group from Guerrero, La Luz Roja de San Marcos, and recorded many popular tropical cumbias like El Gallo Mojado, El Peluquero, and La Mariscada. Also in the 70s Rigo Tovar became very popular with his fusion of Cumbia with ballad and Rock.
Some definitions and variations of Mexican cumbia
The Mexican Cumbia has adapted versions of Colombian music like Peruvian cumbia or Argentine Cumbia, among others. This diversity has appeared in different ways: Originally Northern cumbia (Cumbia norteña) was usually played with accordion and consists of tunes with few chords and slower speed than original cumbia (Ramón Ayala, Acapulco Tropical, Bronco, Límite, Los Barón de Apodaca, etc...), more like Colombian porro. Southern cumbia (cumbia del sur) replaces the accordion with piano or organ. The pace is faster, even faster than original cumbia, (Los Sonnors, Socios del Ritmo, Chico Che) and more elaborated harmonically and instrumentally. Other examples of subgenres of Mexican cumbia are Cumbia Mariachi, Cumbia Andina Mexicana or Cumbia Sonidera and other, its national variants, is a fusion of the adapted folklores of Colombia with the nationals like Musica norteña, (northern music), the mariachi, Banda sinaloense, romantic music, huapango, or huasteco, as well as old and modern genres of other countries, such as the Cuban Salsa, merengue, reggae, ska and other Caribbean sounds. Also represented are Bolivian and Ecuadorian folklore, waltz and Peruvian folklore, with other popular genres such as rock & roll, hip-hop, rap, Disco 70's, Dance, and electronic music. These tendencies have varied according to the popularity of each of the rhythms with which they have merged. The Orchestral Cumbia is another variant represented by big orchestras, like Pablo Beltrán Ruiz, Orquesta Tampico, Orquesta Coatzacoalcos, Roy Luis among others, that popularized many cumbias with full big band sound.
Development of Mexican cumbia
The 1940s through the mid-1960s were Colombia's "golden age of cumbia," during which the country's folklore was reflected on a worldwide scale with diverse successes that gave to identity per decades to the South American country with its most famous cumbia song, "La pollera colorá" ("the red skirt").
The cumbia in Colombia never lost her popularity is kept alive and it is honor in the Carnavals in the Caribbean coast. The country was invaded by other musical genres, especially from counties to the north; Mariachi from Mexico and the, combined with the Afro-Caribbean rhythms such as the salsa and merengue and the empowering of the Vallenato as national music would move the cumbia almost to extinction. At the moment, few musical groups in Colombia are dedicated to the recording and interpretation of the cumbia. However, the Vallenato has become the symbol of Colombian national music, relegating cumbia only to nationalistic events of the South American country's historical past.
During its splendor in the 1940s and 1950s, the Colombian cumbia spread throughout Latin America. Nowadays, the cumbia is popular in Peru, Mexico, and Argentina, the reason is that only until those decades of 40's and 50's, Colombian musicians distributes its recordings of Colombian groups like the "Corraleros de Majagual", and others.
The justification of the adaptation of the Cumbia in diverse countries corresponds to diverse reasons, for example: In Argentina, the genre was adopted easily because tango music features the accordion, making it easy for Argentinian musical groups to pick up. Similarly, in Mexico, the norteño style features the accordion as a main musical instrument. Therefore, fusing the Colombian cumbia was direct and natural. Later, also in other cumbia's countries in all the continent, derivative of northern music the "acompañamiento" (loop sound of bajo sexto) replaced by the guitar in Mexico and other countries.
In the mid-1950s, the Mexican musical group "Los Cometas" enjoyed singular success, performing diverse genres like bolero, tropical music, Cuban rhythms and foxtrot in their recordings. This group recorded for the CBS record label (now Sony Music).
Unique in all songs is the use of the accordion as a main instrument, the successes mixture of tropical bolero and with accordion like "Jugando poker", "Tomando caña", "Donde esta mi saxofón", "Que se mueran los feos", etc. that would give the precedent of the popularity of cumbia music with accordion, combined to the northern music.
The first Colombian musician that traveled to the north of the continent was the enormously successful Luis Carlos Meyer, who decided to tour other countries. He was among the first to introduce the Cumbia to Mexico, leaving a sample of the new "tropical" music in Mexico by recording with the orchestra of Lucho Paz and Tony Camargo. Within a few years, other musicians would assimilate the new Caribbean genre. Meyer continued to the USA, where he eventually lived.
Few musicians in Mexico knew cumbia, and practically the history of cumbia in Mexico is parallel to the rock & roll history and also it had almost of the same way.
Policarpo Calle, an accordionist of cumbia and very popular vallenato musician in Colombia and Mexico with his song "La Porra Caimanera", "La Cumbia chida", "La Monaguilla", "Leyda", "Se cabrio la Cumbia" "Maria Salome" among others, mentions that the first introducer of cumbia in Mexico was the Mexican singer Carmen Rivero , she traveled until Colombia to learn cumbia music and to bring it to the country, parallel, Mike Laure a rock & roll musician from Jalisco began with the change of its style of rocker whom was not to him very favorable to a declared tropical musician, began trying in the new "tropical" music genre called cumbia, both, Carmen Rivero and Mike Laure by different ways, did not know that they would be in the pioneers and creators of the real Mexican cumbia.
When Carmen Rivero returned from Colombia, brought a repertoire of Colombian cumbia of Colombian previous decade, the Mexican Rivero made, like Mike Laure a symbiosis of cumbia brought of Colombia with the experience that both had of different music styles.
Meanwhile, Mike Laure, in 1959 and 1960, had already formed its first musical group that just a short time later would change its name to "Los Cometas", (the same name of another group that recorded for CBS Columbia mentioned before), having a musical experience in Rock, Mike Laure makes a particular musical fusion recognized, its fusion of cumbia with the rock & roll, he separated the real Colombian percussion of cumbia replacing with an acoustic Drum kit (because he had instruments to play rock & roll). With relatives of him, introduce some instruments protagonists of cumbia Colombian, like the accordion, sax and clarinet, and the bases of the rhythm is made by guiro (substitute of the guacharaca of the Colombian cumbia) the acoustic drum kit, adding an instrument that already had been used by the Colombians but were not used more because in Colombia began to lose force, we refers to the electric guitar, as rock musician, invariably would have to use it within its recordings.
Mike Laure with its "tropical music" and the cumbia, begun to became very popular, he recorded his songs for "Discos Musart" a Mexican company, his songs were covers of Colombian groups like Antolín y su Combo Orence with the famous "Tabaco mascao", of Combo los Galleros with the "cieguita" Lucy Gonzalez, and of other famous musician, Alejandro Durán with his hit called "039" in accordion, another songs of Corraleros de Majagual and Colombian songs composed by Eliseo Herrera, Julio Erazo, and Cresencio Salcedo among others.
Mike Laure recorded Colombian hits of cumbia and other Colombian genres as Porro, Vallenato or Joropo, the re-recordings had adapted musically to satisfy the Mexican public, and because he did not have experience in this musical genre of cumbia, so the cumbia, almost for the first time has one of its radical adaptations and changes into the hands of Mike Laure, in addition that he did not have the real instruments of an orchestra of Colombian cumbia, Mike Laure used for the first time in recordings of cumbia for Mexican companies the use of accordion, electric guitar, clarinet and sax, and to simulate the percussion it uses "tumbadoras" or "congas". Mike Laure in its recordings imposed guidelines for the future tendencies of cumbia in Mexico, cumbia with accordion, cumbia with sax and cumbia with electric guitar. Although many of cumbias were covers, soon began to be composed the first Mexican cumbias and also recorded by Mike Laure.
Carmen Rivero brought her Colombian repertoire and to have itself later as singer together with Linda Vera, made its recordings for Discos CBS Columbia / Discos Orfeón, reason why soon it begins to become popular due to cumbias famous to cover of Colombian groups, the success subjects were clearly "the chicken farmer will colorá", "fisherman" and like in the race of Mike Laure. They would begin to be made up and to record first cumbias Mexican, like including in his first discs of Carmen Rivero like the subject "To Tabasco" talking about to the Mexican state of Tabasco.
- History of Mexican Cumbia (spanish)
- Cumbia in Mexico (spanish)
- What is Cumbia Sonidera? (english)
- Los Carnales De Fuego (spanish)