In Colombia, rhythm is an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage and something you need to experience to truly understand. Known as the “country of 1000 rhythms,” no matter where you go here, the music is sure to move you. In fact, each of the country’s diverse and colourful regions offers a rhythm all its own. You hear it in the streets, you taste it in the food and very likely–you feel it as soon as you arrive.
In terms of numbers, Colombia boasts more than a thousand rhythms, grouped into 157 genres with an impressive musical variety and diversity. The music of the interior is different from the music found on the coast, south, or in the Pacific region, making music one of the best ways to really tap into the heart of what makes the country so special from top to bottom.
In April 2018, the Organization of American States (OAS) declared nine Colombian rhythms as Cultural Heritage of the Americas, including bambuco and torbellino from the Andean region; vallenato, cumbia, and mapalé from the Caribbean; currulao, berejó, and contradanza from the Pacific; and fantastic indigenous songs from the Amazon region.
Today, music is the most consumed content on the planet with 95 of the 100 most viewed videos on YouTube being music videos. Of these, 10 are by Colombian artists. And there’s good reason for that. Colombia’s rhythms are impossible to ignore–and why would you want to even if you could? The notes you hear, whether walking past a bar where the unmistakable sounds of salsa vibrate onto the street, or participating in a festival where locals and visitors alike can’t help but groove to the beat, rhythm is everywhere in Colombia.
And if you need any more proof of just how important the rhythms of this country are, some of Colombia’s cultural expressions were declared by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, including vallenato, marimba music, songs and dances from the southern Pacific coast, the Blacks and Whites’ Carnival in Pasto, Barranquilla’s Carnival, and more recently, Cantos de trabajo llaneros (work songs from the eastern plains).
No matter what time of the year you visit or which part of the country you travel to, you’ll always find fairs, carnivals and celebrations (spontaneous and organized), that showcase the unique and deep-rooted rhythms of Colombia.