Salsa History

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Salsa History
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    The history of salsa, beginnings with the migration and mix of rhythms from different parts of the world, mostly Latin and African beats.

    Salsa is one of the most dynamic and important musical phenomena of the 20th century. In many Hispanic communities, it remains the most popular style of dance music today.

    Salsa is a mix of different Latin musical genres, but its main component in the beginning, was Cuban dance music. Therefore, the roots of salsa originated in eastern Cuba (Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo) from the «Cuban Son» (circa 1920) and Afro-Cuban dance (such as the Afro-Cuban rumba). There, Spanish and Afro-Cuban musical elements were combined, both in rhythm and in the instruments used.

    By mid-century, this music reached Havana where foreign influences were absorbed, particularly American jazz and popular music heard on the radio.

    The Beginnings

    To begin, by the late 1950s, many Cubans and Puerto Ricans, including musicians, had settled in the United States, especially New York. This created the perfect environment where salsa completed its development as we know it today. The Spanish Harlem, «el barrio», was the main place where this mix started to happen. Many gangs were formed; the immigrants continued to make Afro-Caribbean music, but adapted the sound of their new world, being influenced especially by American jazz. Gradually, in the 1950s and 1960s, salsa as we know it today emerged.

    The King of Mambo and the Queen of salsa were the most famous musicians of the time, Tito Puente and Celia Cruz. Puente born in New York from a Puerto rican family, and Cruz was born in Cuba where she was rejected her entry once she left the island. The word Salsa come of the mix of all the beats involved to make this unique dancing music. Salsa in English literally means «sauce». Salsa was the perfect sauce of music in New York at its time, no only for its rich flavors but also for its happy tones.

    The Expansion

    To continue, the rise of salsa is also closely tied to Fania Records, which was founded in 1964 by musician Johnny Pacheco and an Italian-American divorce attorney, named Jerry Masucci. The two met at a New York hotel party, struck a deal to launch what became the most influential record label in Latin music history.

    Fania was known as “the Latin Motown”, with hit after hit, becoming popular throughout Latin America. “La Fania” promoted many artists, and this gave them the recognition and fame with the help of the record label. By the 1970s, salsa was becoming so popular that Fania bands and artists were touring throughout Latin America. This decade was the true «heyday» of salsa. Some of their artists were: Willie Colón, Hector Lavoe, Larry Harlow, Ismal Miranda, Celia Cruz, Cheo Feliciano, Richie Ray y Bobby Cruz, Ruben Blades, and many more well known latin musicians.

    The type of salsa music that Fania promoted came to be called «hard salsa». Then, in the 1980s, another softer and more romantic style of salsa was born, with artists like Gilberto Santa Rosa. Around this time, Latin musicians began to make an impact on mainstream American music. Latin music was becoming fashionable and beginning to intrigue the rest of the world as well.


    Also, salsa usually is a group of many different instruments playing together to form the sound of salsa.

    Many instruments come from the African background of the beats of salsa, like the congas. Some have European roots like the bass and piano. And the Latin portion of the instruments that are most common in the Caribbean and Latin America, are the maracas, timbales, clave and the guiro.

    Cowbell and the trumpet both have origins many years B.C. The cowbell was first found in Neolitic China around 3000 BC. The trumpet was discovered in Egypt 1500 BC in Tutankamuns grave. Both of these instruments came to Europe and used in different cultures, then evolved to how we know them today.

    The instruments can be more than the once we see here. In the salsa orchestras can be found more wind instruments to accent this sound or more percussion for grater beats.


    Conteo de la salsa: 1,2,3,5,6,7

    Different types of salsa are still popular today, and with the popularity of the music came the popularity of the dance.

    Every salsa composition involves complex African percussion based on the rhythm of the clave (which has four types), although there may be times when the clave is hidden for a while, often when Charanga, Changüí and Bomba are cited.

    The key instrument that provides the central rhythm of a salsa song is the clave. It is often played with two wooden sticks struck together. For salsa, there are four types of clave rhythms, with the son 3-2 and 2-3 keys being the most important, and the rumba keys being 3-2 and 2-3. Most Salsa music is played with one of the Son Claves, although a Rumba Clave is occasionally used, especially during the Rumba sections of some songs.

    Sound of Rhythms

    There are other aspects outside of the Clave that help define the rhythm of salsa: the cowbell, the montuno rhythm, and the tumbao rhythm.

    The cowbell is played on the core rhythms of Salsa, 1, 3, 5 and 7. The basic rhythm of Salsa is fast, fast, slow, fast, fast, slow, in other words, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7, which are very similar to the beats of the cowbell. Recognizing the rhythm of the cowbell helps keep the rhythm of the salsa.

    The Montuno rhythm is a rhythm that is often played on a piano. The Montuno rhythm runs through all 8 counts and is useful for finding the direction of the music. By listening to the same beat, which returns to the beginning after eight counts, one can recognize which count is the first beat of the music. Tumbao is a salsa rhythm that is played with conga drums. It sounds like: “cu, cum .. pa… cu, cum… pa”.

    Its most basic pattern is played on beats 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8. The tumbao rhythm is useful for learning to dance off-beat (“On2”).

    Salsa Styles

    Over time different styles of salsa have emerged. Some dancing styles are very compatible with each other, but some others are so different that it is difficult to dance between the 2 styles.

    The most common styles are the New York Style which is «on 2» because the dance is done on the second beat. This style was born from the combination of Puerto Rican and cuban dancing as is was done with the music. This style is usually dance in line and has simple and elegant steps. It can be said that is the most classical style.

    Other very famous style is the LA Style. Los Angeles style is most characterized

    Introducción al primer curso de Salsa

    To learn to dance salsa from the basic steps to mastering the genre, you can enter our salsa classes in Korevo.

    Historia de la Salsa: Sus Inicios y Conteos


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