The Accordion Traditions in Colombia
This chapter traces the accordion's history from its arrival at Colombia's Atlantic shores to its ubiquitous presence in popular vallenato music. Accordions and harmonicas were assimilated into local musical culture as early as the 1860s, combined with scrapers or other rhythm and percussion instruments, such as the triangle and side drum. Trading routes along the main rivers into the interior of the country allowed for the dispersion of accordions and their music during the economic boom in the tobacco-, banana-, and coffee-growing zones. With vallenato's increasing national popularity in the mid-1980s, the accordion, which was firmly rooted in the lower strata, needed a new social veneer. Soap-opera actor and vallenato accordionist and singer Carlos Vives' international success in the mid-1990s reached a level of visibility that validated the music, despite vallenato's infamous and unbroken connection with the Colombian mafia.
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