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· The vallenato is in a privileged ranking in the Colombian folklore ·


Colombian folklore is very rich by its varied traditional displays. Each region has own folkloric characteristics.

In Caribbean Region the most representative are:


This popular music comes from Valledupar, was originated in Cumbia. It is played with autochthonous instruments as vallenato drum, guáchara (craper instrument) and accordion.

The composer and famous singers of Vallenato are: Enrique Diaz, Emiliano Zuleta or Rafael Escalona. Nowadays, Carlos Vives is the Vallenato ambassador.

The Vallenato music has four basic rhythms: Son, Paseo, Merengue and Puya. They differentiate each other by speed and the way how instruments are played.

Son: It is the slowest rhythm of all, the accordion performance stands out alternating     between lyre and bass simultaneously.

Paseo: It is faster than “Son” and the most played in Vallenata music. There are two types of paseo; slow paseo and fast paseo. The first one characterizes by being romantic however, sometimes it is dedicated to the village or a friend. The second one is faster, its themes are rarely romantic, and sometimes people don’t differentiate it of merengue.

Merengue:  It is livelier than the previous ones. It is believed that was originated in Central America. It is very similar to”Dominicano”. It is not very romantic but its themes are about love anecdotes.

Puya: It is the fastest of all. Its themes are about folklore and have lively sounds.  Many people confuse with Vallenato because it is played with accordion; however, Vallenato has romantic themes and Puya doesn't.

The most representative dances in the Andean region are: Guabina, Bambuco, Pasillo and Joropo.


It is a typical dance of Andean zone including Santander, Boyacá, Tolima, and Huila departments.
The National Guabina Festival is a popular celebration where there are many Guabina performances.


Bambuco is the most important rythm of Colombia. It is played in mountainous zone departments; it is typical however each region has own characteristics.

Its origin comes from a mixture of indigenous tradition and European rhythms. The musical instruments for playing this sound are tiple, bandola and guitar. The most famous singers are Carlos Julio Ramirez, Proto Ramirez, Luís Dueña and Dario Tobón.


Pasillo is considered the freedom dance, was originated as a happiness expression after independence. It was derived from waltz.

It is expanded in different zones of Colombia with variations in each one, for example, islander “pasillo” is played with mandolin, timáfono however, all sort of pasillos have similar characteristics.

The most popular pasillos are: La Gata Golosa, Vino Tinto, Esperanza, Espumas, Chaflán, etc.

The most representative rhythm of Llanera Region is Joropo.


Joropo is the fastest rhythm; couples dance face to face holding hands. It is a dance that identifies to “llaneros”.
The musical instruments to play Joropo are maracas, harp and other autochthonous instruments.

In Atlantic Coast Region the most representative dances are Cumbia, Tambora, Porro and Fandango


Cumbia is the most important and representative dance of Atlantic Littoral. It is a result of indigenous rhythms, the funny and craftiness black. Its rhythm is slow and has variations according the region.
The instruments to play cumbia are: bass drum, drum, maracas, guache, carrucha and bagpipes.


Tambora, the most representative cultural rhythm, is about daily life of people surrounded by nature.
The instruments to play it are tambora, conuno macho, gallitos or tablitas.


Porro rhythm is faster than cumbia. It has monotonous tune but lively. Originally it was a black’s dance who danced in tune with native instruments.
Modern porro is played with wind instruments; there are two kinds of porros: the gaita has slow rhythm and in tapao predominates sound of bass drums.


Fandango is a fast instrumental rhythm. It is a traditional dance of Cordova and Sucre departments.
It was originally played with a group of gaita, bass drums and maracas, then those instruments were replaced by musical bands.


Currulao is the most representative folkloric dance of Pacific Littoral. The instruments for playing it are marimba de chonta, cununos, bass drums and guasa. Chorus are generally sung by women.

It is a dance, where woman remains calm to man pretensions, who want to court her with courtship and complicated foot movements. It has ritual loving sense.

Other rhythms

Other popular rhythms in Colombia are: Chicahamaya, native dance; el Galerón, the most representative of Llanos Orientales, Mapale, Merengue, Pasaje and Sanjuanero.

Musical Instruments:

The instruments for playing different rhythms are:
-The llanera harp
- Bandola
- Carángano
- Cuatro (small guitar)
- Cununo
- Chirimía
- Esterilla
- “Flauto de Millo” (a folk clarinet of Atlantic Coast)
- Guacachara
- Guasa
- Maracas
- Marimba
- Requinto
- Rondador
- Rustic drum


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  Updating, November 2015