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 1950s 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 1970s 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 1970s 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. For example, originally the northern cumbia (cumbia norteña) was usually played with accordion and consists of tunes with few chords and slower speed than original cumbia. This musical subset of cumbia is featured by artists, such as Ramón Ayala, Acapulco Tropical, Bronco, Límite, and Los Barón de Apodaca. In southern cumbia, however, the accordion is replaced by piano or organ, and the pace is faster and more elaborated both harmonically and instrumentally than in the original cumbia. Notable artists of this style include names, such as Los Sonnors, Socios del Ritmo, or Chico Che.
Other subgenres of Mexican cumbia include Cumbia Mariachi, Cumbia Andina Mexicana, and Cumbia Sonidera. 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.
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. However, Colombia was also influenced by other musical genres, especially those from the north, such as the Mexican mariachi music, as well as the Afro-Caribbean salsa, merengue and vallenato. Nowadays, only few musical groups in Colombia are dedicated to cumbia, whereas vallenato has become the symbol of Colombian national music. However, the Colombian cumbia has spread throughout Latin America, and it has gained popularity in countries like Argentina, Mexico, and Peru. The adaptation of cumbia was easy in these countries for several reasons. For example, in Argentina cumbia was picked up effortlessly because of the use of accordion, an instrument also widely used in the Argentinian tango music. Moreover, the Mexican norteño style similarly featured accordion as the main musical instrument being used.