12 julio, 2024

Rhythms of the Caribbean region of Colombia

The rhythms of the Caribbean region of Colombia are a very important part of the life of its inhabitants. Among the most popular are some such as vallenato, cumbia or bullerengue.

Music is present in celebrations, parties and, in general, all cultural events in the region.

The Caribbean region of Colombia is made up of 8 departments: Atlántico, Bolívar, La Guajira, Cesar, Sucre, Córdoba, Magdalena, and the islands of San Andrés and Providencia.

It is located in the northern part of the country, bordering Venezuela and the sea that gives it its name, the Caribbean.

Its population was originally indigenous until the arrival of the Spanish and the Africans they brought, changed the demographic structure of the area.

Main rhythms of the Caribbean region

The rhythms of this region have diverse cultural influences due to the different peoples that have lived there.

On the one hand, the indigenous natives of the area contributed their traditions and instruments, on the other the Spanish incorporated the letters.

But the most decisive influence was the African one, which when mixed with the others gave rise to a wide range of different styles.

According to the experts, there are almost 50 different rhythms, between the purely autochthonous ones and those that present slight variations on them.


The musical instruments of the rhythms of the Caribbean region are a mixture of those used by indigenous people, Africans and Europeans. This gives them a unique sound that represents the cultural diversity of the area.

Among the European instruments we find the accordion and the tiple, the indigenous people contribute the guacharaca or the gouache, while the tambora or the caja vallenata would be African contributions.

the bullerengue

The bullerengue was born among the maroon communities of the Department of Bolívar.

It is a dance that only women dance when they reach puberty. This is the rhythm in which the African influence stands out the most.

the mapalé

In its beginnings it was a typical rhythm of the fishing communities.

In fact, its name comes from a fish called Cathorops mapale, which moves out of the water in a way that is reminiscent of dancers. Its origins are also African and it has sexual connotations.


It is one of the most popular and well-known among the rhythms of this area of ​​Colombia and, by extension, of the entire country.

In this rhythm you can see the triple cultural influence typical of the Caribbean. The use of the accordion, introduced by German immigrants, and the structure of its lyrics refers to European culture.

The vallenata box, a percussion instrument, is the African contribution. Finally, the presence of the guachara, a scraping instrument, is the main indigenous contribution.


Along with vallenato, it is the other quintessential rhythm of the region. As it happened with this one, it also presents traits contributed by the three cultures that lived there.

The metric and the lyrics show a Hispanic origin, while the instruments are African and indigenous contributions.

Although there are various theories, most affirm that its name is related to the African continent, more specifically with Equatorial Guinea.


Uncover Colombia. Colombian rhythms: loose those hips and have fun. Retrieved from uncovercolombia.com
All Colombia. Musical Rhythms of the Caribbean Region. Retrieved from tocolombia.com

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