To me, this is the most difficult rhythmic music you can find. Columbia is the third form of the rumba trilogy (Yambu, Guaguanco and Columbia). It is generally played at very fast tempos, as it accompanies male dancers demonstrating all their individual skills and capabilities. So you have to have speed, dexterity, and lightning fast reflexes to respond to the movements of the dancer. But on top of that, the style is completely polyrhythmic in that some of the parts are in a triplet feel, and others are in a duple feel. These two feels are played simultaneously and at such fast tempos, so enormous skill is required to negotiate the rhythmic tension this style creates and then sustains over long periods of time.  When you add the songs to this rhythmic mix, you can become disoriented very quickly. I consider it the graduate school of rumba study.

There are a number of different ways of playing Columbia, and we demonstrate several of them here on the site. But make sure you are well grounded in Guaguanco before you “graduate” to Columbia.

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