June 28, 2010 arymurillo

Stony Brook University

Professor Katherine Kaiser

Ary Murillo

Music and Technology MUS 300


                                                CHIRIMIA AFRO COLOMBIAN MUSIC          

The Afro descendent population in Colombia is spread over the whole country, but it is in the Colombian Pacific area where more afro concentration is located.  Chocó is a province with 99 percent of afro descents; the province was an important destination for African slaves that used to work in gold mines.  The most important element incorporated into the province from Afro culture was the music. Chirimia is popular sentiment that include natural surrounding food, live style and doctrine as Africa as a mother country. In one word Chirimia band is interpreted with clarinet, drums and local instruments. This music has its own distinctiveness repertory base on daily experiences that evolve with inclusion of lyrics with picaresque illustrations.  

Nowadays, children learn the music foundation since they enroll in school, many bands continued with the original and traditional structure of the chirimia; moreover, other musicians have made significant fusions with other musical styles. (Chirimia and Chocó) is like if we mention in the United States (Jazz and New Orleans) but the difference is that chirimia is practiced only by Chocó’s natives.  The Contundencia band is one of most representative groups that have promoted the folklore. Thus, one of the most encouraging singers and composer that symbolize this approach is Zully Murillo, her compositions are interpreted through the conventional chirimia style mixed with Salsa´s one. Her last musical production “Los Pregones de mi Tierra “LPT was made with significant innovation, she made a fusion of new instruments and also used the Electronic computer sound that represents an important change or progress about the music in general terms in the country. LPT is an album that was oriented to young generations, natives, and to the general population; as a result, the album can be classified as a perfect combination of the traditional Chirimia and Salsa.

The musicians used in the production of the album guitar, piano, drums, and silver; moreover they also played in the album saxophone, bass, tube and thumb piano which were interpreted by computer’s sound, pitch and sampling technology. Therefore, the final product came up like a gigantic music band.  When interviewing the singer and composer previously mentioned, she said: “it was necessary to use the electronic computer sound and technological effects in this production for two reasons. First, to reduce the cost of the production of the album since when musicians play the instruments, the cost is more expensive if we compare it with the traditional cost. Second, as we intend to attract the young population of the country towards the folklore, it was essential to take advantage of their preferences, so the new form of Chirimia-Salsa was created and it is more accepted by them.  In other words, chirimia is moving from the afro Colombia audience to the whole Colombian population; cities like Cali, Bogotá and Medellin accept now chirimia music that was restricted in the past for Afro Colombians. (Cali have at Huge Chirimia festival in the summer promote by Jairo Varela Manager of international salsa Group Niche).

 The Electronic music sounds are included in the whole LPT musical production from track one through eleven. Computer sounds substitute a conventional music that is not easy to identify them in the composition because the computer technology is such a useful and manageable tool that every sound it produces is like a live music.  Another important innovation that was added was other musical instruments. For example, the thumb piano is used in other type of music in the pacific area but in this opportunity it was used and interpreted by computer sound. The difference between the regular rhythm and computer technology´s one is almost impossible to figure it out. The seven tracks in “La Vaca Topa” where the base of the melody is the thumb piano were replaced by computer technology sound.  The beginning of the second track in “Mininica” from 00.00 to 00.16 the electronic sound was used as well as the saxophone, but also the introduction of the track is from computer sound that replace a traditional instrument, the musical background that come out from right channel and left channel result from the composer inspiration. In this track “Mininica” is easy to mentioned many other electronic passenger that enrich the album that used and implement the technology in a variety style and African Colombian sound.

In this album is present the digital sound that is manipulate in many way and forms by Julio, electronic composer. Tempo and pitch are manipulated a just one pitch or as whole instrument sound in the album. For example in

The whole production used the computer sound in the chirimia fashion, the importance of these innovations is that chirimia can be played and enjoyed in the whole country as a new musical style and also it is attracting more people and audience. The economy aspect justifies the use of computer because the cost to produce a traditional album was reduced considerably. Today it is not needed four musicians as the base of the band and the instruments they played but only one person, who manipulates the software, mix and work on the computer compositions so that the final product can be gotten with high quality for the progress of the band.

This musical production represents the fusion of two methods: the traditional   one and the one that incorporated the electronic tools that ended up with the creation of a new musical style that enriched the identity that the population has about their culture.

It is also necessary to acknowledge the contribution of the computer composer Juan Carlos, he is 26 years old and he was the one who motivated the creation of this new musical style by the manipulation of musical software and computer sound base. He plays guitar, piano and other traditional instruments from the pacific region but the most significant is that he never attended the school to learn how to play any instrument.


The main disadvantage of the album it is when the group plays in live music because it is necessary to validate some instruments with some musicians so that live concert would be successful. Also Zully’s chirimia fans opine in majority that she needs to come back to the original form, because this is a basic element of the province folklore. To analyze this difference it is needed to see or advocate the impact of the computer sounds in the Zully style, and to watch some of her videos that are available in YouTube video.


Zully Murillo y la contundencia, Sancudo

Finally, it is necessary to say that Pregones de mi Tierra is an album that established a new period of the music in Chocó province, and also an innovative music in Colombia. This album not only fosters the traditions but goes beyond while creating an alternative style for the new generation by taking advantage of the technological resources. It made bonds with their trends and preferences about music. The LPT album use sampling, software, and hardware with the only purpose to create music that satisfy the fans.

Another important aspect is to give the opportunity to a young electronic composer Julio who is a person that never when to a music schools; but has the natural inspirations to produce this material and consolidated him as a pioneer of the electronic music composer, and computer music expert in function of the Colombian music and folklore general in Colombia.


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