Salsa Essay Research Paper Salsa MusicSalsa Music

Salsa Essay, Research Paper

Salsa Music

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.

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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