Cumbia Lesson in Soundtrap – Culture Capsule

Getting into Cumbia Music 

The culture of Latin America deeply roots itself in music. Having developed for centuries through cultural exchange and used for interaction, education, and leisure, music creates the bedrock of how native Latin American cultures connect with one another. Cumbia refers to several musical rhythms and folk dance traditions centered within Latin American culture, particularly Colombian. 

Although various types of cumbia exist, we’ll explore one specific kind of cumbia in this lesson. If you want to start teaching your students about different types of cultures and learning about music like cumbia, make it easy through Soundtrap for Education’s resources. To get an idea about how cumbia can be utilized, check out Taylor’s cumbia Spotify playlist

Separate Tracks

In this lesson, check out Taylor’s groove at 1:19 – 2:20. As you can see in the video, Taylor isolates Güiro first. 

What is the Güiro?

The güiro is an instrument with deep roots in Puerto Rican music. Founded as early as the 18th century, the güiro is a percussion instrument that makes music by dragging a wooden stick-like object, commonly known as a scrapper, on the rigid outside surface of the güiro. Güiro is found everywhere in cumbia music. 

Next, Taylor explores the sound of the congas.

What are Congas? 

Although cumbia music typically has congas, you can still make cumbia with a tambora, a tambor alegre, or tambor alegre through electronic drums. For this lesson, Taylor uses congas, tall, single-headed drums originating in Cuba. Since they’ve been around since the 19th century, congas are most popular for salsa, mambo, and other popular Latin music types. 

After adding congas, your class can plug and play with different types of percussion instruments and guitars to make a cumbia sound that works for you.  Of course, you can find tons and tons of different rhythms and styles from Mexico to the tip of South America, but hopefully, these rhythms will give you a nice introduction and make you curious to learn more.

Follow along with Taylor in the video at these timestamps 2:21 – 4:09 for the instrument breakdown.

Each instrument has its place in the overall song, and together, they make a really fantastic groove that helps bring the culture and history of Colombia to life. Each is worth exploring on its own, and by learning each, your class can make their own cumbia groove. 

Now it’s your turn to open up a Soundtrap project and create your own song in the same style! Maybe your class will throw a party for Hispanic Heritage Month and dance to some cumbia. 

Have fun! 

Need access? Signup for a free trial here! 

Other important links:

▶️ Soundtrap Resources

▶️ Become a Soundtrap Certified Educator 

What is Soundtrap for Education?

Soundtrap is learning for today. It’s an online learning platform that allows teachers to follow the STEAM curriculum using music and podcasts. It additionally promotes a collaborative environment where students can hone their creative and communication abilities.

Soundtrap’s simple interface is suitable for students of all levels, from primary school to university. It has a massive library of loops and software instruments that can even help professionals.

You and your students can record songs using the computer microphone or by connecting an instrument. Soundtrap also works on any device and in any location. Here, all projects are saved in the cloud, so you can access them from anywhere, and because of its multi-platform capability, it is tailored to BYOD schools and makes administrators’ lives easier! Managing projects has never been so easy because Soundtrap for Education is collaborative. Enabling students to collaborate on projects together via video and chat within Soundtrap.

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