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Cumbia Moderna

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Rodrigo Martinez Torres

Rodrigo Martinez Torres

General Info

Year: 2022
Duration: c. 10:20
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Manhattan Beach Music
Cost: Score and Parts - In publication 2022


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Percussion, including:

  • Congas
  • Maracas (preferably Colombian maracones)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Cumbia Moderna was born during lockdown, one calm, sunny afternoon of 2020. The ideas for the piece arose from having been listening to a weekly stream of a local DJ in Mexico, Sonido Confirmación, who would play cumbias on Instagram live, and my interest in orchestral music that can pull you in and make you lose track of time. During that afternoon I was feeling zen and got to work on my computer. I jammed with several cumbia riffs on my computer and derived a handful of loops I liked. The piece was really fun to make since it was just me playing around with different ways of organizing those loops, the way a DJ would bring in the kick drum, bass or hi-hats on the offbeat. I spent several hours in a trance as if DJing for myself, and came up with a version of the piece very much like the final version -- at least in terms of structure and material.

In this composition, I focused on the simplest rhythmic figure found in modern day, urban cumbia: an eighth note followed by two sixteenth notes. I varied these values in various ways, thus attaining several rhythmic iterations that would become the building blocks of the piece. As I began stacking these rhythmic iterations in the form of musical loops, I imagined myself building a modernist building like those built by architect Mario Pani in Tlatelolco (Mexico City) -- thus my decision to call the piece modern. A very repetitive and trance-inducing structure came into being. The whole time, I would be dancing by myself in front of the computer.

The piece is made up of three sections, all of them coming into being after a trance-inducing section made up of the same material but repeated and varied in ways in which the cumbia material is suggested, before being objectively presented.

- Program Note by composer

Cumbia refers to a number of musical rhythms and folk dance traditions of Latin America, generally involving musical and cultural elements from Amerindians, Africans enslaved during colonial times, and Europeans. The style show consideration from country to country.

Mexican cumbia is a type of cumbia, a music which originated in Colombia but was reinvented and adapted in Mexico.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


  • Dartmouth College Composition Competition, 2020, Grand Prize winner


None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer