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, and 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.
The origins of Mexican cumbia dance and instrument composition
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The emergence of the original Mexican ensemble for performing cumbia emerged from the early 1940s in the orchestras of Rafael de Paz and Tony Camargo. Rafael de Paz and Tony Camargo added the metallic sounds from Cuban music, which predominated in the country, into cumbia music when Luis Carlos Meyer (native of Colombia) migrated to Mexico carrying the cumbias (dances) and porros (folk dances) of his country. Cumbia originates from Columbia, and variations have been made in various countries based on the original Columbian style. There have been various writers who have analyzed the cross-country spread of Cumbia and both its positive and negative effects on listeners. Both styles of ensembles were merged due to Meyers not having the traditional Colombian instrumentation. This is shown in the recordings of RCA Víctor Mexico by 1945 when they were already popular.
The traditional Bolero music in Mexico of the Cuban and Puerto Rican trios included maracas, and the predominant Cuban music of the time as shown in the national cinematography gave account of the adoption of these instruments. In Colombia, Lucho Bermúdez already was playing cumbias starting in 1940. He used an orchestra with a greater number of instruments that differed with the ones used in Mexico, being based mainly on saxophones and clarinets that are used to play the melody, along with an orchestral base. His music was shown in national film, but in the Mexican style. One reason why Lucho Bermúdez decided to leave Columbia was because there were not many quality recording studios, so he was invited to Argentina to record in studios of superior quality (RCA Víctor). It was not until 1963 that his works were truly dispersed at the inauguration of Inravisión. Carmen Rivero in 1962, integrated not only these instruments but also the timpani (drum), marking the stops, starts, and exits of the orchestra within the same musical theme. This was a style not seen in the Colombian recordings. This conductor is supported by the musical arrangements of the renowned and international Mexican author Fernando Z. Maldonado who accentuated the use of trumpets as well as the musical stops of the Cuban dances derived from the Danzón.
- [LA BANDOLERA - TONY CAMARGO (1953- RCA Víctor, división tropical)]
- 2) Favoretto, Mara. Tango and Cumbia villera: Origins, Encounters, and Tensions. University of Texas Press. 2016.
- 4) Agudelo, Juan. “Cumbia! Scenes of a Migrant Latin American Music Genre/ Natión, Etnia Y Género en Latinoamerica/ Troubling Gender: Youth and Cumbia in Argentina’s Music Scene.” Latin American Music Review, vol 35, no. 2, Fall/Winter2014, pp 289-293. EBSCO
- Fontalvo, Jose Portaccio. Carmen Tierra Mía: Lucho Bermudez: Disformas Triviño LTDA., 1997, Print.