Unit 2: Cumbia with Gregorio
Melody will take us on a journey from India to Colombia to meet our next artist, Gregorio. Use SG13, SG14 and SG15 to meet Gregorio and prepare your students to learn about cumbia.
Colombia has been called “the land of a thousand rhythms,” and cumbia is one of the most ubiquitous and enduring of these rhythms. The genre brings together African, indigenous, and, to a lesser extent, Spanish influences. Its origins are somewhat ambiguous and difficult to trace. Some sources cite roots as far back as the late-17th century, others to the 19th century. It is often said that the genre developed in rural environments along Colombia’s Caribbean coast and in small riverside towns—which explains some of the common themes like fishing, farming, and nature—but other documentation points to Cartagena as its birthplace. Cumbia has continued to evolve, mixing with other forms of popular music, and remains a common form of dance music throughout Latin America.
Meet Gregorio Uribe
Gregorio was born in Bogotá, Colombia and came to the US to attend the Berklee College of Music, subsequently putting down roots in New York City. With the Gregorio Uribe Big Band, he combines Colombian rhythms with big band arrangements; he also has a smaller ensemble to highlight his songwriting. In addition to composing and performing with a variety of groups, Gregorio is committed to serving as a cultural bridge to his country. He launched an innovative project of community-based musical tourism where he brings music lovers to small villages to meet, learn from, and enjoy the music of local masters.
Lesson 1: Learning “El Pescador”
Students learn to sing “El Pescador” and learn the instruments and basic rhythms of cumbia.
→ Go to Lesson 1: Learning “El Pescador”
Lesson 2: Learning “La Piragua”
Students learn the cumbia dance and create their own dance rhythms.
→ Go to Lesson 2: Learning “La Piragua”
- Music, Race, and Nation: Música Tropical in Colombia, Peter Wade
- Cumbia!: Scenes of a Migrant Latin American Music Genre, eds. Héctor D. Fernández L’Hoeste and Pablo Vila
Listening & Viewing:
- Listen to SMF’s Cumbia playlist on Spotify
- Visit gregoriouribe.com to learn more about Gregorio’s music
- Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, “Fuego de Cumbia”
- Totó La Momposina, “Dos de Febrero”
- “Traditional Vallenato Music of the Greater Magdalena Region,” UNESCO
- “Why Shakira Loves This African Beat,” Vox
- “Danza de Niños en el Festival de la Cumbia,” Cumbia, Poder & Porro
Additional Teaching Resources:
Unit 2: PDF Downloads
SG13 Let’s Explore Cumbia ↓ Download File
SG14 Meet Gregorio ↓ Download File
SG15 We asked Gregorio… ↓ Download File
SG16 Columbian Instruments ↓ Download File
SG17 Imagine “El Pescador” ↓ Download File
SG18 Compose Your Own Dance Rhythm ↓ Download File