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Revista musical chilena

Print version ISSN 0716-2790


OCHOA, Juan Sebastián. The Cumbia in Colombia: an Invention of a Tradition. Rev. music. chil. [online]. 2016, vol.70, n.226, pp.31-52. ISSN 0716-2790.

As any other concept, "cumbia" is a social construction. It is not an ontological entity that needs to be revealed, but rather a human creation in an ongoing process of transformation and negotiation. Far from being a type of music that has been discovered once and forever, it is a mutant category permanently made and remade through practices and discourses. In view of that, this paper does not attempt to say what is or what is not cumbia; it presents different and sometimes contradictory uses given to the term, exposes the discourses that have built an imagery on "the cumbia's" origins and evolution in Colombia, and reveals correspondences and incongruences with empirical evidence taken from historical and musical analysis. The paper examines the significations and political implications involved in the construction of sense and concludes indicating that the actual imagery of "cumbia" in Colombia responds to a homogenizing ideology rooted in three-ethnic national mestizaje that can be traced back to the 1886 National Constitution. "Cumbia" needs to be reconsidered according to an evaluation of empirical documentation and acknowledging the impact of diversity and multiculturalism recognized by the 1991 National Constitution.

Keywords : cumbia; Colombian gaita; flauta de millo; Pelayero wind bands; orchestrasfor dancing; Colombian nation's imagery.

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