BUT WHAT IS THE 'VALLENATO' ?
- This music originated in the Atlantic coastal region of Colombia, around Valledupar (1).
-The accordion was taken there by Europeans towards the end of the 19th century, It was then taken up by the descendants of Spaniards, Indians and Blacks living in that region, and by others living in the Chocô department, in the Pacific coastal region. That is where Antonio Rivas Padilla was born. He explains that traditionally the accordion had a similar role to that of the rural policeman's drum in France.
-When he wanted to pass on a massage. The accordionist would play until a crowd gathered and then he would sing the news, having made it into a song as he went along. This is still the case, so the songs tell true stories, often about the musician's own experiences...
- There are four different rhythms : - The Son, an slow, melancholy rhythm; where the words are very important - The Paseo, where there is a better balance between melody and words. - The Merengue, much faster and more melodic - The Puya, which the above all an exercise in virtuosity. Another fifth rhythm ,named " Tambora " has actually allmost dissapeared.
- The basic instruments are the diatonic accordion, the guacharaca (bamboo scraper), and the caja (drum).
In modern bands, one also find congas (drums), an electric bass, timbales, guitar, and a vocal section comprising three singers; it is important to note the dissociation between the singer and the accordionist.
- The style of accordion-playing is very tricky because of the characteristic bass register, and because of the very nimble fingering that is required of the right hand.
It is a form of music with very complex rhythms and lots of swing!
(1) Valledupar is the capital of the César department in Northern Colombia.. ..