Glossary of Colombian music

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This page is a glossary of Colombian music.


  • agüelulo - A teenage gathering, originally held in private homes and then larger spaces; a teenager who frequented such a place was a agüelero or sometimes a cocacolos, after the main beverage drunk at agüelulos, Coca-Cola[1]
  • música andina - An early national style of the 19th and early 20th centuries, developed from the Andean interior[1]
  • música antillana - A kind of popular dance music based on Cuban and Puerto Rican styles[1]
  • audición: literally listening, can refer to a "special musical tribute to the career of a particular artist or group", performed before the beginning of a concert[1]


  • baile - Literally, dance, dances are alphabetized under their descriptor, e.g. baile de cuota is alphabetized under cuota
  • bambuco - An Andean style of dance music, perceived as a national music in the early 20th century,[2] or an Andean lyric music performed along with pasillo as a common part of the música andina repertoire[1]
  • balada - In popular music, refers to a kind of "Spanish romantic popular music", found across Latin America[1]
  • bandola - A stringed instrument similar to a mandolin, used in llanera[2] and musica andina[1]
  • bandolin - A larger relative of the bandola[2]
  • bingo bailable - a dance that includes bingo games and salsa music[1]
  • bolero - A loose term for love ballads[1]
  • bombo - A drum used in folklore groups on the Atlantic coast, laid with sticks and used to start a performance by calling on the other drums to perform;[2] a bass drum used in traditional cumbia ensembles[1]
  • bugalú - An early form of New York salsa, popular in Colombia during the 1960s, a fusion of son with rhythm and blues[1]
  • bullerengue - A Costeño form, performed by flute-and-drum ensembles[1]
  • 'The Colombian Mambo-the Colombian men would go to clubs and dance with each other until their legs fell off.


  • caja vallenata - A vallenato drum originally made from goatskin[2]
  • calle de las salsotecas - Literally, salsoteca street, referring to Calle 44, a three-mile-long road in Cali, referring to the numerous salsotecas and tabernas along the street, known for featuring salsa dura and Cuban music during the 1980s and 90s[1]
  • caballo - A rhythmic pattern played on the conga[1]
  • camaján - An alternate term for the pachuco[1]
  • campana - A cowbell[1]
  • campanero - A performer of the cowbell, notably played by audience members along with the on-stage performer[1]
  • capachos - Maracas[2]
  • música caribeña - A rarely used synonym for música antillana[1]
  • carrilera - A form of guitar-based music from the Antioquia province, associated "with the urbanizing peasant or working class"[1]
  • carrito - Small, streetside vendors of recorded music[1]
  • carrizo - A form of Colombian folk flute[2]
  • caseta - A dance hall[1]
  • cencerro - A timbales cowbell[1]
  • champeta - A form of rootsy music from the Atlantic coastal city of Cartagena, where an Afro-Colombian population developed the style;[2] an Afro-Colombian style associated with Cartagena and Barranquilla, which combines elements of African pop, soca, zouk, mbaqanga and soukous[1]
  • champús bailable - A Caleño tradition of house parties, which began in the 1930s and were usually held on Sundays;[1] champú, a beverage made from pineapple, corn, bitter orange leaves and a fruit called lulo[1]
  • chandé - A Costeño form, performed by flute-and-drum ensembles[1]
  • chirimía - A kind of ensemble found in the northwest corner of Chocó province[1]
  • chucu-chucu - An alternate term for raspa[1]
  • cokacolo - A teenage dancer at a agüelulo[1]
  • contrapunteo - An improvised, verbal duel[2]
  • música colombiana - Colombian music, formerly understood to refer to música andina in the 19th and early 20th century, when that style was perceived as a national music
  • baile de cuota - A type of dance party in Cali's working-class neighborhoods during the mid-20th century[1]
  • cuatro - A small guitar, used in llanera[2]
  • currulao - A marimba-based music found along the southwest littoral Valle, Cauca and Nariño provinces of Colombia, as well as Esmeraldas in Ecuador[1]
  • cumbia - A form of nation music, originally from the Atlantic coast and characterized by a "solidly grounded and complex layered rhythm with an airily syncopated melody"[2]


  • empanada bailable - An alternate term for champú bailable, referring to the empanadas often served


  • fandango - A Costeño song form, performed by flute-and-drum ensembles[1]
  • festivales - Community dances in Cali, held in neighborhood dance halls or pavilions[1]
  • fiesta patronales - Saints days[1]
  • flauto de millo - See millo, flauto de


  • gaita - A folk flute;[2] a Costeño form, performed by flute-and-drum ensembles;[1] conjunto de gaita is a traditional cumbia ensemble[1]
  • guabina - A kind of música andina[1]
  • guacharaca - A scraper, common in vallenato
  • guache - Rattles made from filling metal or gourd tubes with seeds[2]
  • guateque - Originally a Cuban word referring to a rural campesino party, which came to refer to a form of salsa dura, characterized by "slow, grinding son montunos with heavy bass and percussion; associated also with El guateque de la salsa (The Salsa Party), a popular radio show from 1989 to 1993[1]


  • música de la interior - An Andean style, often used synonymously with bambuco, characterized by a gentle and melodic sound and a well-developed melody at the expense of rhythmic complexity[2]


  • joropo - Originally a folk dance performed in honor of saints days and other special occasions, such as birthdays and baptism;[2] now more often a generic word for llanera based dance music;[2] a courtship dance associated with central Colombia and that region's cowboy culture, a "dynamic, polyrhythmic mestizo style that fuses Andalusian, African and indigenous elements"[1]


  • kiosco - A community pavilion, used for musical performances[1]
  • kuisi - an indigenous flute made from a hollowed cactus stem, with a beeswax and charcoal powder mixture for the head, with a quill made from a goose or turkey feather for the mouthpiece. There are male and female versions of the pipe (or gaita in Spanish), the female kuisi bunsi (or gaita hembra) with 5 holes, and the male kuisi sigi (or gaita macho) with two.[3]


  • llamador - A drum, traditionally used in cumbia as well as modern música tropical[1]
  • llanera - A form of harp-led music[2]


  • marimbula - A low-pitched thumb piano[2]
  • flauto de millo - A folk clarinet of the Atlantic coast[2]
  • melómano - A "music aficionado"[1]
  • música - Literally music, music forms are alphabetized by their descriptor, e.g. música antillana is alphabetized under antillana


  • música de negros - Literally black people's music, a pejorative term used by the elite to deride musics such as música antillana[1]
  • nueva ola - Literally new wave, a kind of pop-balada performed by romantic crooners, which peaked in the 1960s and 70s[1]


  • orquesta - A dance band[1]
  • orquesta femenina - An all-female dance ensemble[1]
  • orquesta infantile - An all-child dance ensemble[1]
  • orquesta juvenile - An all-youth dance ensemble[1]


  • pachanga - An early form of New York salsa, popular in Colombia during the 1960s, especially in the city of Cali[4]
  • pachuco - An iconic figure, a "ruffian and a hustler... an antihero", especially important in the culture surrounding the Zona de tolerancia[1]
  • parrandero - A typical lyrical focus of the more macho side of popular cumbia, referring to a boasting, aggressive and sexual "party-going man"[2]
  • pasillo - A lyric song form from the Andean region[1]
  • el paso Caleño - A traditional dance step from the city of Cali, characterized by a "rapid 'double-time' shuffle on the tips of the toes"[1]
  • pasta americana - Carrito slang referring to the thicker and higher quality vinyl of American records
  • picó - Derived from the English pickup, a large sound system among DJs in Cartagena and Barranquilla during the 1980s[1]
  • pop tropical - A form of mid-1990s pop-salsa[1]
  • porro - A music genre. A village brass band;[2] a song form performed by the flute-and-drum ensembles of the Atlantic coast region, as well as mid-20th century urban dance orquestas[1]



  • salsa - A Spanish Caribbean dance music created in New York City using elements of Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican music, a combination known in Colombia as musica antillana[1]
  • salsíbiri - A term coined by Fruko to describe his own style[1]
  • salsómano - A salsa fan[1]
  • salsoteca - A venue that plays salsa
  • serenata - A pan-Latin tradition of street serenades performed by small groups of instrumentalists, especially guitarists[1]


  • tambor hembra - The lead frum of the Atlantic coast drum choirs[2]
  • tambor macho - A conga-like drum that leads the basic rhythm of the Atlantic coast drum choirs[2]
  • terapia - An alternate term for champeta[1]
  • musica tropical - A form of salsa-based music innovated by Joe Arroyo;[2] a form of dance music based on various Atlantic coast genres[1]
  • tiple - A small stringed instrument, used in llanera[2] and musica andina[1]


  • vallenato - A form of accordion-based music, related to música tropical and cumbia, and originally associated with the Atlantic Coast
  • vallenato-protesta - A form of vallenato-based protest song[2]
  • verbena - Free street parties held during the December Feria and sponsored by the city of Cali[1]
  • viejoteca - Dance parties, originally appearing in 1993 for senior citizens but later appealing to middle-aged partygoers and finally abandoning any age restrictions; these viejotecas became associated with a revival of the agüelulos and nightclub scenes of the 1960s and 70s; originally from Cali, viejotecas have spread to Medellin and Cartagena[1]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp Wazer, Lise A. (2002). The City of Musical Memory: Salsa, Record Grooves, and Popular Culture in Cali, Colombia. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6441-9. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Burton, Kim. "El Sonido Dorado". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, pp 372-385. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0
  3. ^ Sturman, Janet L. (2003). "Technology and Identity in Colombian Popular Music". In René T.A., Lysloff; Leslie C., Gay. Music and technoculture (illustrated ed.). Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. pp. 153–180. ISBN 0-8195-6514-8. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  4. ^ Waxer, pg. 92; Waxer cites the Cali claim to Helio Orovo, from personal communication on May 31, 1996