Carlos Vives - Cumbiana

Spanish online reading and listening practice - level B2

Carlos Vives is a Colombian singer-songwriter. He's won two Grammy and 14 Latino Grammy awards. He's also a prolific actor, mainly in telenovelas, as well as a judge for numerous Spanish-language versions of The Voice.

This song is taken from his latest album, also called Cumbiana, where he celebrates the cumbia musical genre as well as promoting the biodiversity of the swamps and rivers of Colombia. He accompanied its release with a short documentary called El mundo perdido de Cumbiana, describing his creative process which was inspired by the amphibious region on the north coast of Colombia and their belief in ancestral spirits.

This reading and listening exercise can help you practise El Futuro Simple, using ya, and the difference between decir and contar.

Exercise: Carlos Vives - Cumbiana

Watch and listen to the video, then read the transcript. Click any phrase for the translation and links to related grammar lessons which you can add to your Kwiziq notebook to practise later.

Q&A relating to this exercise 1 question, 4 answers

JohnC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

A "challenging" exercise!

Hola Shui,

I enjoyed this lesson but it wasn't very straight forward. I searched on the meaning of "cumbia" and it was given as "dance music not unlike a salsa, but originating from Colombia." Who doesn't like salsa!

I find it a bit of a contradiction to see powerful social issues addressed - not just environmental but also injustice and the consequences of violence [as portrayed in the video] - to a dance rhythm. What's more, it reads like a love song but I kind of get that as a metaphor, and in fairness Carlos sings the song with a fair degree of passion, which goes well with the issues portrayed. 

That said it doesn't feel quite right to get up and dance something like the salsa to lyrics which are a mix of love and real tragedy - lost loved ones, widowed mother and child, armed militias etc.

Is this part of the Latin American mentality? Celebrate despite your miseries? Don't let them grind you down? 

Thanks for a challenging lesson. Saludos. John 

Asked 1 month ago
DianeA2Kwiziq community memberCorrect answer

Creo que Vd ha comprendido en su última párrafo. ¡Sí¡ Es parte del espíritu sudamericano..de contar y bailar a pesar du sus problemas... que son muchos. Y porque no bailar? Una canción puede ser bella y apasionante y triste y lleno de esperanza a la vez. 

JohnC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Gracias Diane. 

Tal como usted ha dicho, los problemas son muchos .... así que ... ¡porque no bailar! Debe ser saludable expresar sus emociones y sacarlas de su cuerpo.

IngaA1Kwiziq community member

John,

A very thoughtful response. But remember that singing and dancing have a very long history together. I don't know if you enjoy classical performances but some of the saddest and most poignant themes are enacted on stage in opera, ballet, and in 'Broadway' musicals. And in rock and roll many of the themes are about war, hatred and other indignities. In my generation, people danced to the Beatles, Stones, and The Doors, to name a few, and many of their songs explored troubling themes. I would argue that dance is an expression that allows people to open up to their emotions in some contexts. Just my idea!

Inga : )

ClaraC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hola Inga, 

Beautifully put! There is so much healing to be had from music and dance. 

Saludos 

Clara :)

A "challenging" exercise!

Hola Shui,

I enjoyed this lesson but it wasn't very straight forward. I searched on the meaning of "cumbia" and it was given as "dance music not unlike a salsa, but originating from Colombia." Who doesn't like salsa!

I find it a bit of a contradiction to see powerful social issues addressed - not just environmental but also injustice and the consequences of violence [as portrayed in the video] - to a dance rhythm. What's more, it reads like a love song but I kind of get that as a metaphor, and in fairness Carlos sings the song with a fair degree of passion, which goes well with the issues portrayed. 

That said it doesn't feel quite right to get up and dance something like the salsa to lyrics which are a mix of love and real tragedy - lost loved ones, widowed mother and child, armed militias etc.

Is this part of the Latin American mentality? Celebrate despite your miseries? Don't let them grind you down? 

Thanks for a challenging lesson. Saludos. John 

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