TotÓ la Momposina y Sus Tambores


TotÓ la Momposina y Sus Tambores
Media Sponsorship by
TotÓ la Momposina
y Sus Tambores
To too many Americans, Colombia is only known
for the notorious underworld activities of the country’s
drug lords. But when looking below the surface of the bad
press one sees a much more complex picture that includes
a vibrant land of tropical beauty and many cultures with
their many rhythms and dances. Today’s artist, Toto La
Momposina, has become one of Colombia’s leading musical ambassadors - dedicating her life to preserving and
presenting the rich, traditional music of her country’s
coastal region and offering deeper insight into the diverse
cultures that make up this South American nation.
Toto La Momposina y Sus Tambores brings to life
the music from an island region in Colombia called
Mompos. She was born in Talaigua (a small island in the
Magdalena River that flows into the Caribbean on the
northern Colombian coast). It was originally inhabited by
indigenous Indians, who were pushed into the surrounding
forests with the arrival of the Spanish. Runaway slaves later
found refuge amongst the Indians and, through intermarriage and common interest for survival, both cultures
became interwoven.
This performance is supported by a grant from
August 14
The isolation from a sustained Euro-Spanish
influence allowed for a unique fusion of art, culture and
music to flourish. The courtship dance between the two
races for instance, became the now internationally known
cumbia. This is but one of many music styles that were
formed. As Toto says “There are many different types of
music that are part of my tradition; they all go back to the
drum - to clapping your hands to make a rhythm." The
drumming patterns were what the Africans brought, and
their hypnotic polyrhythms are the basis of Momposina's
folkloric music. The Indians contributed the gaita (so
called by the Spanish because of its tonal similarity to
Galician bagpipes), a cactus wood flute. The Spanish
influence came later, as brass instruments and the colonial
musical forms, such as the bolero, seeped into the music
compositions. This mix helped to create the music that is
now the trademark style of Toto La Momposina y Sus
This project is supported in
part by an award from the
National Endowment for the Arts.