Puneet Varma (Editor)

Glossary of Colombian music

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This page is a glossary of Colombian music.



  • agüelulo - A teenage gathering, originally held in private homes and then larger spaces; a teenager who frequented such a place was a agüelero or sometimes a cocacolos, after the main beverage drunk at agüelulos, Coca-Cola
  • música andina - An early national style of the 19th and early 20th centuries, developed from the Andean interior
  • música antillana - A kind of popular dance music based on Cuban and Puerto Rican styles
  • audición: literally listening, can refer to a "special musical tribute to the career of a particular artist or group", performed before the beginning of a concert
  • B

  • baile - Literally, dance, dances are alphabetized under their descriptor, e.g. baile de cuota is alphabetized under cuota
  • bambuco - An Andean style of dance music, perceived as a national music in the early 20th century, or an Andean lyric music performed along with pasillo as a common part of the música andina repertoire
  • balada - In popular music, refers to a kind of "Spanish romantic popular music", found across Latin America
  • bandola - A stringed instrument similar to a mandolin, used in llanera and musica andina
  • bandolin - A larger relative of the bandola
  • bingo bailable - a dance that includes bingo games and salsa music
  • bolero - A loose term for love ballads
  • bombo - A drum used in folklore groups on the Atlantic coast, laid with sticks and used to start a performance by calling on the other drums to perform; a bass drum used in traditional cumbia ensembles
  • bugalú - An early form of New York salsa, popular in Colombia during the 1960s, a fusion of son with rhythm and blues
  • bullerengue - A Costeño form, performed by flute-and-drum ensembles
  • 'The Colombian Mambo-the Colombian men would go to clubs and dance with each other until their legs fell off.
  • C

  • caja vallenata - A vallenato drum originally made from goatskin
  • calle de las salsotecas - Literally, salsoteca street, referring to Calle 44, a three mile long road in Cali, referring to the numerous salsotecas and tabernas along the street, known for featuring salsa dura and Cuban music during the 1980s and 90s
  • caballo - A rhythmic pattern played on the conga
  • camaján - An alternate term for the pachuco
  • campana - A cowbell
  • campanero - A performer of the cowbell, notably played by audience members along with the on-stage performer
  • capachos - Maracas
  • música caribeña - A rarely used synonym for música antillana
  • carrilera - A form of guitar-based music from the Antioquia province, associated "with the urbanizing peasant or working class"
  • carrito - Small, streetside vendors of recorded music
  • carrizo - A form of Colombian folk flute
  • caseta - A dance hall
  • cencerro - A timbales cowbell
  • champeta - A form of rootsy music from the Pacific coastal city of Cartagena, where an Afro-Colombian population developed the style; an Afro-Colombian style associated with Cartagena and Barranquilla, which combines elements of African pop, soca, zouk, mbaqanga and soukous
  • champús bailable - A Caleño tradition of house parties, which began in the 1930s and were usually held on Sundays; champú, a beverage made from pineapple, corn, bitter orange leaves and a fruit called lulo
  • chandé - A Costeño form, performed by flute-and-drum ensembles
  • chirimía - A kind of ensemble found in the northwest corner of Chocó province
  • chucu-chucu - An alternate term for raspa
  • cokacolo - A teenage dancer at a agüelulo
  • contrapunteo - An improvised, verbal duel
  • música colombiana - Colombian music, formerly understood to refer to música andina in the 19th and early 20th century, when that style was perceived as a national music
  • baile de cuota - A type of dance party in Cali's working-class neighborhoods during the mid-20th century
  • cuatro - A small guitar, used in llanera
  • currulao - A marimba-based music found along the southwest littoral Valle, Cauca and Nariño provinces of Colombia, as well as Esmeraldas in Ecuador
  • cumbia - A form of nation music, originally from the Atlantic coast and characterized by a "solidly grounded and complex layered rhythm with an airily syncopated melody"
  • E

  • empanada bailable - An alternate term for champú bailable, referring to the empanadas often served
  • F

  • fandango - A Costeño song form, performed by flute-and-drum ensembles
  • festivales - Community dances in Cali, held in neighborhood dance halls or pavilions
  • fiesta patronales - Saints days
  • flauto de millo - See millo, flauto de
  • G

  • gaita - A folk flute; a Costeño form, performed by flute-and-drum ensembles; conjunto de gaita is a traditional cumbia ensemble
  • guabina - A kind of música andina
  • guacharaca - A scraper, common in vallenato
  • guache - Rattles made from filling metal or gourd tubes with seeds
  • guateque - Originally a Cuban word referring to a rural campesino party, which came to refer to a form of salsa dura, characterized by "slow, grinding son montunos with heavy bass and percussion; associated also with El guateque de la salsa (The Salsa Party), a popular radio show from 1989 to 1993
  • I

  • música de la interior - An Andean style, often used synonymously with bambuco, characterized by a gentle and melodic sound and a well-developed melody at the expense of rhythmic complexity
  • J

  • joropo - Originally a folk dance performed in honor of saints days and other special occasions, such as birthdays and baptism; now more often a generic word for llanera based dance music; a courtship dance associated with central Colombia and that region's cowboy culture, a "dynamic, polyrhythmic mestizo style that fuses Andalusian, African and indigenous elements"
  • K

  • kiosco - A community pavilion, used for musical performances
  • kuisi - an indigenous flute made from a hollowed cactus stem, with a beeswax and charcoal powder mixture for the head, with a quill made from a goose or turkey feather for the mouthpiece. There are male and female versions of the pipe (or gaita in Spanish), the female kuisi bunsi (or gaita hembra) with 5 holes, and the male kuisi sigi (or gaita macho) with two.
  • L

  • llamador - A drum, traditionally used in cumbia as well as modern música tropical
  • llanera - A form of harp-led music
  • M

  • marimbula - A low-pitched thumb piano
  • flauto de millo - A folk clarinet of the Atlantic coast
  • melómano - A "music aficionado"
  • música - Literally music, music forms are alphabetized by their descriptor, e.g. música antillana is alphabetized under antillana
  • N

  • música de negros - Literally black people's music, a pejorative term used by the elite to deride musics such as música antillana
  • nueva ola - Literally new wave, a kind of pop-balada performed by romantic crooners, which peaked in the 1960s and 70s
  • O

  • orquesta - A dance band
  • orquesta femenina - An all-female dance ensemble
  • orquesta infantile - An all-child dance ensemble
  • orquesta juvenile - An all-youth dance ensemble
  • P

  • pachanga - An early form of New York salsa, popular in Colombia during the 1960s, especially in the city of Cali
  • pachuco - An iconic figure, a "ruffian and a hustler... an antihero", especially important in the culture surrounding the Zona de tolerancia
  • parrandero - A typical lyrical focus of the more macho side of popular cumbia, referring to a boasting, aggressive and sexual "party-going man"
  • pasillo - A lyric song form from the Andean region
  • el paso Caleño - A traditional dance step from the city of Cali, characterized by a "rapid 'double-time' shuffle on the tips of the toes"
  • pasta americana - Carrito slang referring to the thicker and higher quality vinyl of American records
  • picó - Derived from the English pickup, a large sound system among DJs in Cartagena and Barranquilla during the 1980s
  • pop tropical - A form of mid-1990s pop-salsa
  • porro - A music genre. A village brass band; a song form performed by the flute-and-drum ensembles of the Atlantic coast region, as well as mid-20th century urban dance orquestas
  • R

  • raspa - A simplied form of música tropical which emerged in the late 1960s
  • refajo - A street slang from the Zona de tolerancia in Cali
  • rock en español - Spanish language rock music, most closely associated with the cities of Bogotá and Medellín in Colombia
  • rumba - Partying or merry-making, compare to rumbero, a party
  • S

  • salsa - A Spanish Caribbean dance music created in New York City using elements of Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican music, a combination known in Colombia as musica antillana
  • salsíbiri - A term coined by Fruko to describe his own style
  • salsómano - A salsa fan
  • salsoteca - A venue that plays salsa
  • serenata - A pan-Latin tradition of street serenades performed by small groups of instrumentalists, especially guitarists
  • T

  • tambor hembra - The lead frum of the Atlantic coast drum choirs
  • tambor macho - A conga-like drum that leads the basic rhythm of the Atlantic coast drum choirs
  • terapia - An alternate term for champeta
  • musica tropical - A form of salsa-based music innovated by Joe Arroyo; a form of dance music based on various Atlantic coast genres
  • tiple - A small stringed instrument, used in llanera and musica andina
  • V

  • vallenato - A form of accordion-based music, related to música tropical and cumbia, and originally associated with the Atlantic Coast
  • vallenato-protesta - A form of vallenato-based protest song
  • verbena - Free street parties held during the December Feria and sponsored by the city of Cali
  • viejoteca - Dance parties, originally appearing in 1993 for senior citizens but later appealing to middle-aged partygoers and finally abandoning any age restrictions; these viejotecas became associated with a revival of the agüelulos and nightclub scenes of the 1960s and 70s; originally from Cali, viejotecas have spread to Medellin and Cartagena
  • Z

  • zarzuela - Operettas
  • References

    Glossary of Colombian music Wikipedia

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