Eduardo Martinez Arvilla

Colombia’s Caribbean coast is host to a plethora of rhythms and musical styles.  Many fall under the umbrella of cumbia, which is but one of a number of styles.  In this region, the most commonly used instruments are the alegre, llamador, tambora, maracón, guacho, and gaita.  Together, they represent the fusion of African musical elements (alegre, llamador, and tambora), with those of indigenou cultures (maracón, guacho, and gaita).

Eduardo Martínez Arvilla was born in Cartagena, Colombia, a city rich with African, Spanish, and aboriginal cultures and traditions.  His studies in Afro-Colombian drumming began as a young boy, immersed in his city’s oral history and music.  He has learned drumming and gaita from some of the most respected masters of the tradition, including Paulino Salgado (aka, Batata III) and Encarnación Tovar (aka, El Diablo), two of the most famous Afro-Colombian drummers who play, make, and repair drums.  After high school, Eduardo studied music at the Institute of Fine Arts in Cartagena, where he continued to practice and refine his skills in Afro-Colombian music performance.  Following school, he became a workshop leader, and traveled around the world representing his country and culture.  Additionally, he has toured with many groups including Totó La Momposina and Petrona Martínez.

Eduardo was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2016 and 2014, with apprentice Alberto López.  The apprenticeships focused on dozens of rhythms and musical styles from the Caribbean coast of Colombia, such as cumbia, puya, chalupa, mapalé, tambora, bullerengue, and zambapalo.  Many of these traditional styles are on the verge of extinction as older generations are passing on and younger musicians no longer play them.


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