By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
The torbellino is a rhythm from the departments of Boyacá, Cundinamarca and Santander, in the heart of the Colombian Andes. It usually accompanied local religious festivities and family festivals: pilgrims used to sing it as they made their way to the sanctuary and it was performed at weddings and during patron Saint festivities.
The torbellino is a mestizo rhythm, in 3/4 time, strongly rooted in indigenous tradition. Some authors trace its origins to the songs of the Yuko, Yukpa or Motilón people, settled in the Serranía del Perijá, the northernmost branch of the Andean range.
In the departments of Santander and Boyacá the torbellino was usually played on capadores (panpipes), which later were joined by other aerophones (caña, flute) and percussion instruments such as the chucho (kind of maraca), tambourine, carraca (rattle) or the zambumbia (kind of rustic drum).
In time the rhythm was adapted to the requinto and the tiple, which were played alone or to the accompaniment of the vocal duets that are so characteristic of the Andean folklore of Colombia.
There are several local types of torbellino, and some Colombian traditional dances (e.g. the tres, the manta, the matarredonda, the perdiz) are performed to its music. In certain parts of the country (e.g. departments of Tolima and Huila), the torbellino has been strongly influenced by other local rhythms such as the guabina or the sanjuanero. In all the rest of departments the torbellino is a great unknown.
It is usually danced in couples, with little contact between the dancers; there are many versions of this dance, which consists of a sequence of figures. The lyrics are from popular songs (coplas) and include words from old Castilian language.
There are a number of festivals that celebrate this traditional rhythm: the Torbellino and the Requinto Festival (Puente Nacional, Santander), the Torbellino Festival (Tabio, Cundinamarca), and the Aguinaldo Boyacense Festival (Tunja, Boyacá).
Video 01. Collection of torbellinos 01 ("Torbellino chipateño", "Torbellino nº 1" and "Torbellino santandereano #1").
Video 02. Collection of torbellinos 02 ("Torbellino veleño", "Esto es torbelino" and "Coplas santandereanas").
Video 03. Collection of torbellinos 03 ("Torbellino", "A Bolívar mi pueblo" and "El torbellino de Jesús María").
Video 04. "Torbellino de la suite #1" on the soloist tiple, by Oriol Caro.
Video 05. A. Martínez Montoya's "Torbellino op. 18", by the Orquesta Colombiana de Bandolas.
Video 06. Torbellino dance.