“Llanero, si soy llanero”: music from the plains of Colombia

“Colombia is unknown territory, a land of myths, beautiful rainforests, mountains and beaches , lovely cities, and enchanting and happy people. Colombia is one of the world’s most exotic, sensual, wild, complex and fascinating countries.” ~From the website Ballet Folkloric Juvenil Colombiano

When living in Washington DC a few years ago, I attended Smithsonian Folklife Festival and was introduced to some amazing music from Orinoco plains of Eastern Colombia. As I mentioned in my post on K’Naan of Somalia, I said I would be doing some posts about the music of countries on the U.S. State department’s travel advisory list, which includes Colombia.

The land of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia is a diverse, magical land with a rich musical tapestry. When Colombia is in the news, it’s all about drug cartels, kidnappings, civil war, and guerrilla warfare. But not here at rootnotemusic.com! Instead I’m bringing you salsa, cumbia, vallenato, porro, champeta, puya, gaita corrida, and bullerengue!

More on those styles in later posts ~ today I’m keeping with my cowboy theme and featuring music from the cattle herders of the Eastern Plains of Colombia, música llanera! According to wikipedia: “música llanera is a harp-led genre of music from Los Llanos popular throughout Colombia. It includes the traditional joropo musical style, and is known for verbal contests called contrapunteo.” I should point out that música llanera is also very popular in Venezuela as the two countries share Los Llanos (The Plains).


From the Smithsonian Folkways website description, música llanera is “from the plains of eastern Colombia, the joropo’s syncopated drive and top-of-the-lungs singing proclaim a cattle-herding mestizo people proud of their homeland.” You’ve never heard someone play the harp or the maracas like this. Groups typically feature the bandola and cuatro guitars, upright bass and passionate pride-filled vocals. Sign up for my updates and in later months I will bring you more music from tropical and mountain regions of this tierra encantada!


Smithsonian Folkways

Links & Resources
Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Wikipedia Music of Colombia
National Geographic World Music Page
Post on K’Naan of Somalia
U.S. State Department Travel Advisory

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