Salsa Music Essay

Salsa Music a popular genre of Latin American music. Since its
emergence in the mid-1960s, salsa has achieved worldwide
popularity, attracting performers and audiences not only in Latin
American communities but also in such non-Latin countries as Japan
and Sweden. In terms of style and structure, salsa is a
reinterpretation and modernization of Cuban dance-music styles.

It emerged around 1900 as an urban, popular dance-music style in
Cuba. It derived some features from Hispanic music, including its
harmonies and the use of the guitar and a similar instrument called
the tres. To these, it added characteristics of the rumba, a style of
dance music with Afro-Cuban origins. Features derived from the
rumba include a rhythmic pattern known as clave and a two-part
formal structure. This structure consists of a songlike first section
followed by a longer second section featuring call-and-response
vocals and instrumental improvisations over a repeated chordal
pattern. By the 1940s the son had become the most popular dance
music in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and much of urban Africa; Puerto Ricans
who moved to New York City brought the son with them.

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The 1950s were a particularly dynamic period for Cuban dance
music. Cuban and Puerto Rican performers in Havana, Cuba, and
New York City popularized the mambo as a predominantly
instrumental, big-band style. The mambo, together with the
medium-tempo chachach?, enjoyed considerable popularity in the
United States. Most importantly, the son was modernized by
adaptation to horn-based ensembles of 10 to 15 musicians and
distinctive, often jazz-influenced instrumental styles.

By the 1950s, New York City had become host to a large and
growing Puerto Rican community. A wave of social and political
activism, cultural self-assertion, and artistic ferment swept through
this community in the 1960s. The newly founded Fania Records
successfully promoted several young performers of Cuban-style
dance music, and the music?now repackaged as salsa?became
linked to the sociopolitical effervescence of the era. Bandleaders
such as Willie Colon, Rub?n Blades, Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto,
and Eddie Palmieri led the musical movement, in which salsa
became a self-conscious vehicle for Latino pride, unity, and
mobilization throughout the Hispanic Caribbean Basin countries and
among Latino communities in the eastern United States. Most
importantly, however, salsa, with its intricate and driving rhythms,
its brilliant horn arrangements, and its searing vocals, served as an
exuberant and exhilarating dance music.

By the mid-1970s, salsa had become the dominant popular music
idiom in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, with Venezuela and
Colombia emerging as music centers to rival New York City. But
during the 1980s, salsa’s themes of Latin unity and sociopolitical
idealism diminished. In addition, the genre faced new competition,
especially in New York City and Puerto Rico, from the merengue, a
dance-music style from the Dominican Republic. Nevertheless, salsa
has remained popular among younger generations of Latinos, who
tend to favor a smoother, more sentimental style known as salsa
rom?ntica, popularized by such bandleaders as Eddie Santiago and
Tito Nieves. Notable salsa singers of the 1990s included Linda
India Caballero and Mark Anthony.


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