In the Department of Cesar, in the section of Colombia known as el Caribe, is a town by the name of Valledupar. Originally, the town was called Valle (valley) de (of) Upar (Name of an Indian Chief). It is from this town and area that the musical genre VALLENATO gets it's name.
Vallenato is definitely native to Colombia, and derives its sound from Native, African and European rhythms and sounds. The Native population contributed to the genre their gaitas (flutes made of bamboo). The Africans provided the drums, and the Europeans offered the accordion.
The music developed and as it did, the traditional Vallenato groups used three instruments: the Guacharaca (see picture), the Caja Vallenata (a drum), and the Accordion. Today, vallenato groups (like Carlos Vives) can be much bigger and include more instruments.
There are four basic vallenato rhythms: paseo, merengue, puya, and son.
Paseo is the most marketed and played type of vallenato. It has a 2/4 time. Son is the slowest type, and also uses a 2/4 time. Puya the fastest, and is played with a 6/8 time. Merengue is often confused with the music of a similar name in the Dominican Republic. It is likely that both have their origins in the same African tribe.
Every year, at the end of April, the FESTIVAL DE LA LEYENDA VALLENATO is held in Valledupar. During the festival, vallenato performers compete to be crowned REY DEL VALLENATO (King of Vallenato). This year's winner was crowned on May 4th. He is Sergio Luis Rodriguez. You can hear him play Puya, Son, and Merengue by going to You Tube. Here is the link to his Puya performance. Just look to the left to see his other performances.