Colombian Loops: the first Colombian sound bank

Photo: Wikipedia.

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Colombian innovators are giving producers from around the world professional access to use Colombian sounds for all types of artistic endeavors.

The development of cultural industries is going hand in hand with technological advances. In music, the figures are conclusive: according to the most recent report published by the International Phonographic Industry Federation, there are 28 million people who pay for music streaming services. Furthermore, content downloading is increasing, representing 67% of the overall global digital market. Downloads have also become fundamental to any discussion about growth, especially in developing markets like the Philippines and Hong Kong.

According to Edgar Berger, President and Executive Director of Sony Music Entertainment’s international division, “music has always been at the forefront of the digital revolution, guiding the other creative industries and defining the future of digital entertainment.” Building on this idea and to act as a leader in the Latin American market, there is an increasing number of initiatives in Colombia.

Colombian Loops has emerged from within this framework: the first bank of sounds in loop (repetitive) format with Caribbean rhythms and instruments. Poliedro is behind this effort, an innovative digital culture organization that, in just a few short years, has received several awards from agencies like InnPulsa Colombia, and the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications and the Ministry of Culture. Johanna Pinzón, founder and director, also received a recognition: the Young Creative Entrepreneur award from the British Council.

“There is a very large need to be able to access the force of Colombian music, which represents diversity; rhythms and instruments that are making an increasing impact on the world,” said Pinzón. “Colombian sounds are popular and our response to this need was to provide access to original music with just one click, to be used in any corner of the world.”

Colombian Loops is not just a commercial product. It also supports an invaluable part of Colombian heritage, as the over 350 selected sounds are gathered together within a musicology system that grouped them into three main categories: Vallenato, porros and whistles, and drums and island sounds. In the first phase, they relied on the advice and accompaniment of Iván Benavides, a notable producer in the national industry who has worked alongside Carlos Vives, Richard Blair, and the group Bloque de Búsqueda. Musicians with well-known careers inside and outside of the country were invited for the recordings, such as Mayté Montero for Gaitas, Luis Ángel “Papa” Pastor on bass, and Jimmy Zambrano on accordion.

Along with the loops, available on 15 different audio platforms, three virtual instruments were created: Marimba de Chonta, Alegre and Gaita. “We give someone in Japan, for example, who doesn’t have the instrument and isn’t interested in going to a recording studio, the opportunity to use the sound of the gaita, of the actual instrument, in their work,” says Poliedro’s director. “It’s interesting because what’s going to happen is that a lot of people are going to start reinventing music from Colombia.” Those who want to can also access tracks and remixes, knowing that they are purchasing the rights to use them legally. Also included in the transmedia platform, as its creator defines it, is an application with a limited number of loops that allows exploration of Caribbean music through a game.

Finally, for Johanna Pinzón, “someone who comes and wants to get to know Colombia must go through its music. We recognize ourselves through sound. Through the happiness that our sounds have.” The cultural richness of our country is immense and now, thanks to Colombian Loops, our music will be within the reach of all producers in the world. For certain, the answer is Colombia.