Sobre El Río (Passage) by Mirjam Wirz
Seriously one of the best books on cumbia we’ve ever encountered, Mirjam Wirz’s Sobre El Río (Passage) documents her journey down the Rio Magdalena in search of the origins of cumbia, and is so much more, with incredible photos, texts and essays. It’s a beautiful thing!
From Mirjam Wirz:
“This book tells of a journey and a photographic research along the lower Magdalena river in Colombia in search of the origins of cumbia music.
The Magdalena river marks the birthplace and distribution system for cumbia music, which in its beginnings, dating back to the colonial era, was a prohibited ritual dance and one of the ways in which the indigenous and African populations interacted. Musically, it is made up of a combination of African rhythms, indigenous instruments, and Spanish lyrics. Since the 1950s cumbia has spread beyond Colombia to the working class neighborhoods in Latin America, taking on local specifics at each place.
The Magdalena river also stands for one of many rivers in the world that acted as distribution channels and speaks of water cultures, which, located along rivers, have absorbed very different influences from the interior of the countries and the world – making them multifaceted and thoroughly mixed, which is evident in the music as well.
The displayed material includes photographs, recordings of conversations with cumbia musicians and short texts about the journey.”