Salsa music
Overview
Salsa music is a genre of music, generally defined as a modern style of playing Cuban Son, Son Montuno
Son montuno
The son montuno is a style of the Cuban son, but exactly what it means is not an easy question to answer. The son itself is the most important genre of Cuban popular music. In addition, it is perhaps the most flexible of all forms of Latin-American music...

, and Guaracha
Guaracha
The guaracha is a genre of Cuban popular music, of rapid tempo and with lyrics. The word had been used in this sense at least since the late 18th and early 19th century. Guarachas were played and sung in musical theatres and in low-class dance salons. They became an integral part of Bufo comic...

 with touches from other genres of music. Originally, Salsa was not a rhythm in its own right, but a name given in the 1970s to various Cuban-derived genres, such as Son
Son (music)
The Son cubano is a style of music that originated in Cuba and gained worldwide popularity in the 1930s. Son combines the structure and elements of Spanish canción and the Spanish guitar with African rhythms and percussion instruments of Bantu and Arará origin...

, Mambo and Son Montuno
Son montuno
The son montuno is a style of the Cuban son, but exactly what it means is not an easy question to answer. The son itself is the most important genre of Cuban popular music. In addition, it is perhaps the most flexible of all forms of Latin-American music...

.

Regarding the genre's origin, Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco is a Dominican producer, musician, bandleader, and one of the most influential figures in American salsa music.-Early life:...

, creator of the Fania All-Stars, who "brought salsa to New York" (of which some members include: Tito Puente
Tito Puente
Tito Puente, , born Ernesto Antonio Puente, was a Latin jazz and Salsa musician. The son of native Puerto Ricans Ernest and Ercilia Puente, of Spanish Harlem in New York City, Puente is often credited as "El Rey de los Timbales" and "The King of Latin Music"...

, Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Larry Harlow, Johnny Pacheco, Roberto Roena, Bobby Valentín), explained that "..salsa is and always had been Cuban Music."

Popular across Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 and North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, salsa incorporates multiple styles and variations.
Encyclopedia
Salsa music is a genre of music, generally defined as a modern style of playing Cuban Son, Son Montuno
Son montuno
The son montuno is a style of the Cuban son, but exactly what it means is not an easy question to answer. The son itself is the most important genre of Cuban popular music. In addition, it is perhaps the most flexible of all forms of Latin-American music...

, and Guaracha
Guaracha
The guaracha is a genre of Cuban popular music, of rapid tempo and with lyrics. The word had been used in this sense at least since the late 18th and early 19th century. Guarachas were played and sung in musical theatres and in low-class dance salons. They became an integral part of Bufo comic...

 with touches from other genres of music. Originally, Salsa was not a rhythm in its own right, but a name given in the 1970s to various Cuban-derived genres, such as Son
Son (music)
The Son cubano is a style of music that originated in Cuba and gained worldwide popularity in the 1930s. Son combines the structure and elements of Spanish canción and the Spanish guitar with African rhythms and percussion instruments of Bantu and Arará origin...

, Mambo and Son Montuno
Son montuno
The son montuno is a style of the Cuban son, but exactly what it means is not an easy question to answer. The son itself is the most important genre of Cuban popular music. In addition, it is perhaps the most flexible of all forms of Latin-American music...

.

Regarding the genre's origin, Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco is a Dominican producer, musician, bandleader, and one of the most influential figures in American salsa music.-Early life:...

, creator of the Fania All-Stars, who "brought salsa to New York" (of which some members include: Tito Puente
Tito Puente
Tito Puente, , born Ernesto Antonio Puente, was a Latin jazz and Salsa musician. The son of native Puerto Ricans Ernest and Ercilia Puente, of Spanish Harlem in New York City, Puente is often credited as "El Rey de los Timbales" and "The King of Latin Music"...

, Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Larry Harlow, Johnny Pacheco, Roberto Roena, Bobby Valentín), explained that "..salsa is and always had been Cuban Music."

Popular across Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 and North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, salsa incorporates multiple styles and variations. Most specifically, however, salsa refers to a brand developed in the 1960s and '70s by Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants to the New York City area, and its later stylistic descendants including 1980s salsa romantica
Salsa romantica
Salsa Romántica, also known as Salsa Erotica, is a soft form of salsa music that emerged between the mid 1980s and early 1990s in New York City and Puerto Rico...

 and other sub-genres. It is not a rhythm in its own right, as musical scoresheets still maintain specific Latin rhythms. The style is now practiced throughout Latin America, and abroad. Salsa derives from the Cuban son
Son (music)
The Son cubano is a style of music that originated in Cuba and gained worldwide popularity in the 1930s. Son combines the structure and elements of Spanish canción and the Spanish guitar with African rhythms and percussion instruments of Bantu and Arará origin...

 and mambo, as the music foundation is based on the Son Clave. The terms Latin jazz and salsa are sometimes used interchangeably; many musicians are considered a part of either (like Tito Puente
Tito Puente
Tito Puente, , born Ernesto Antonio Puente, was a Latin jazz and Salsa musician. The son of native Puerto Ricans Ernest and Ercilia Puente, of Spanish Harlem in New York City, Puente is often credited as "El Rey de los Timbales" and "The King of Latin Music"...

, Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri , is a Grammy Award winning Puerto Rican pianist, bandleader and musician, best known for combining jazz piano and instrumental solos with Latin rhythms.-Early years:...

, Ray Barretto
Ray Barretto
Ray Barretto was a Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican jazz musician.-Early years:Barretto was born in New York City of Puerto Rican descent...

 among others), or both, fields, especially performers from prior to the 1970s.

Salsa is essentially Cuban in stylistic origin, though it also has styles mixed with pop
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

, jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

, and R&B
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

. Salsa is the primary music played at Latin dance clubs and is the "essential pulse of [Latin] music", according to Ed Morales, while music author Peter Manuel called it the "most popular dance (music) among Puerto Rican and Cuban communities, (and in) Central and South America", and "one of the most dynamic and significant pan-American musical phenomena of the 1970s and 1980s". Modern salsa remains a dance-oriented genre and is closely associated with a style of salsa dancing
Salsa (dance)
Salsa is a syncretic dance form with origins in Cuba as the meeting point of Spanish and African cultures.Salsa is normally a partner dance, although there are recognized solo forms such as solo dancing "suelta" and "Rueda de Casino" where multiple couples exchange partners in a circle...

.

The word salsa

Salsa means sauce
Sauce
In cooking, a sauce is liquid, creaming or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsus, meaning salted...

 in the Spanish language
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, and carries connotations of the spiciness common in Latin and Caribbean cuisine. More recently, salsa acquired a musical meaning in both English and Spanish. In this sense salsa has been described as a word with "vivid associations" but no absolute definitions, a tag that encompasses a rainbow assortment of Latin rhythms and styles, taking on a different hue wherever you stand in the Spanish-speaking world". The precise scope of salsa is highly debatable. Cuban, Dominican and Puerto Rican immigrants in New York have used the term analogously to swing
Swing (genre)
Swing music, also known as swing jazz or simply swing, is a form of jazz music that developed in the early 1930s and became a distinctive style by 1935 in the United States...

 or soul
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

, which refer to a quality of emotionally and culturally genuine music in the African American community. In this usage salsa connotes a frenzied, "hot" and wild musical experience that draws upon or reflects elements of Latin culture, regardless of the specific style.

Various music writers and historians have traced the use of salsa to different periods of the 20th century. World music author Sue Steward has claimed that salsa was originally used in music as a "cry of appreciation for a particularly piquant or flashy solo". She cites the first use in this manner to a Venezuelan radio DJ named Phidias Danilo Escalona; Max Salazar
Max Salazar
Max Salazar was an American musicologist specializing in the history of Latin music.His 2002 book "Mambo Kingdom: Latin Music In New York" contains a number of articles about the Mambo legend Tito Puente and over 200 other dance articles for the Village Voice, Latin Times, Billboard, etc.He was a...

 traced the word back to the early 1930s, when Ignacio Piñeiro
Ignacio Piñeiro
Ignacio Piñeiro Martínez was a black Cuban musician and composer whose career started in rumba, and flowered in the rise of the son. He was one of the most important composers of son music; in total he wrote about 327 numbers, mostly sones.Piñeiro was a brilliant rumbero who worked with musical...

 composed "Échale Salsita", a dance song protesting tasteless food. Though Salazar describes this song as the origin of salsa meaning "danceable Latin music", Ed Morales has described the usage in the same song as a cry from Piñeiro to his band, telling them to increase the tempo to "put the dancers into high gear". Morales claims that later in the 1930s, vocalist Beny Moré would shout salsa during a performance "to acknowledge a musical moment's heat, to express a kind of cultural nationalist sloganeering [and to celebrate the] 'hotness' or 'spiciness' of Latin American cultures".

Some people object to the term salsa on the basis that it is vague or misleading; for example, the style of musicians such as Tito Puente
Tito Puente
Tito Puente, , born Ernesto Antonio Puente, was a Latin jazz and Salsa musician. The son of native Puerto Ricans Ernest and Ercilia Puente, of Spanish Harlem in New York City, Puente is often credited as "El Rey de los Timbales" and "The King of Latin Music"...

 evolved several decades before Salsa was a recognized genre, leading Puente to once claim that "the only salsa I know comes in a bottle. I play Cuban music" referring to mambo. Because salsa can refer to numerous styles of music, some observers perceive the word as a marketing term designed to superficially categorize music in a way that appeals to non-aficionados. For a time the Cuban state media officially claimed that the term salsa music was a euphemism for authentic Cuban music stolen by American imperialists, though the media has since abandoned this theory.

Some doubt that the term salsa has any precise and unambiguous meaning. Peter Manuel describes salsa as "at once (both) a modern marketing concept and the cultural voice of a new generation", representative of a "crystallization of a Latino identity in New York in the early 1960s". Manuel also recognizes the commercial and cultural dichotomy to salsa, noting that the term's broad use for many styles of Latin pop music has served the development of "pan-Latin solidarity", while also noting that the "recycling of Cuban music under an artificial, obscurantist label is but one more example of North American exploitation and commodification of third world primary products; for Latinos, salsa bridges the gap between "tradition and modernity, between the impoverished homeland and the dominant United States, between street life and the chic night club, and between grassroots culture and the corporate media".

The singer, producer and trombonist Willie Colón
Willie Colón
William Anthony Colón is a Nuyorican salsa musician. Primarily a trombonist, Colón also sings, writes, produces and acts. He is also involved in municipal politics in New York City.-Early years:...

 once claimed that Salsa is merely "a concept", as opposed to a definite style or rhythm. Some musicians are doubtful that the term salsa has any useful meaning at all, with the bandleader Machito
Machito
Machito , born as Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo, was an influential Latin jazz musician who helped refine Afro-Cuban jazz and create both Cubop and salsa music...

 wrongly claiming that salsa was more or less what he had been playing for forty years (when what he had played was mambo and pachanga
Pachanga
- Music :In Cuba in 1955, Los Papines fused the violin-based music of charangas and the trumpet-based music of conjuntos Eduardo Davidson's La Pachanga , recorded by Orquesta Sublime, introduced Cuba to a Colombian dance...

), while Tito Puente
Tito Puente
Tito Puente, , born Ernesto Antonio Puente, was a Latin jazz and Salsa musician. The son of native Puerto Ricans Ernest and Ercilia Puente, of Spanish Harlem in New York City, Puente is often credited as "El Rey de los Timbales" and "The King of Latin Music"...

 once responded to a question about salsa by saying "I'm a musician, not a cook" (referring to salsas original use to mean sauce). Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz was a Cuban-American salsa singer, and was one of the most successful Salsa performers of the 20th century, having earned twenty-three gold albums...

, a well-known salsa singer, has said, "salsa is Cuban music with another name. It's mambo, chachachá, rumba, son ... all the Cuban rhythms under one name". Although one must note that all music throughout history has been taken from one concept to another thus creating a new sound. Clearly all music has its roots, while music continues to evolve such as going from Cuban Mambo and Son to modern Salsa.

Music writer Peter Manuel claims that Salsa came to describe a specific style of music in the mid-1970s "when a group of New York–based Latin musicians began overhauling the classic big-band arrangements popular since the mambo era of the 1940s and '50s", and that the term was "popularized" in the late 1960s by a Venezuelan radio station and Jerry Masucci
Jerry Masucci
Jerry Masucci was a co-founder of Fania Records.-Early life:Masucci was born October 7, 1934, in Brooklyn, to parents Urbano and Elvira Masucci. He had a brother named Alex Masucci...

 of Fania Records
Fania Records
Fania Records was a New York based record label founded by Dominican-born composer and bandleader Johnny Pacheco and Italian-American lawyer Jerry Masucci in 1964. The label took its name from an old Cuban song by the singer Reinaldo Bolaño. Fania is known for its promotion of what has become...

. In contrast, Ed Morales cites the use of salsa for a specific style to a New York–based editor and graphic designer named Izzy Sanabria. Morales also mentions an early use of the term by Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco is a Dominican producer, musician, bandleader, and one of the most influential figures in American salsa music.-Early life:...

, a Dominican performer who released a 1962 album called Salsa Na' Ma, which Morales translates as "it just needs a little salsa, or spice".

Characteristics

Though the term salsa music is not necessarily precise in scope, most authors use the term to refer specifically to a style created in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Author Ed Morales has said the obvious, most common perception of salsa is an "extravagant, clave-driven, Afro-Cuban-derived songs anchored by piano, horns, and rhythm section and sung by a velvety voiced crooner in a sharkskin suit".

At its root, however, salsa is a mixture of African
Music of Africa
Africa is a vast continent and its regions and nations have distinct musical traditions. The music of North Africa for the most part has a different history from sub-Saharan African music traditions....

 and Spanish music
Music of Spain
The Music of Spain has a long history and has played an important part in the development of western music. It has had a particularly strong influence upon Latin American music. The music of Spain is often associated abroad with traditions like flamenco and the classical guitar but Spanish music...

, filtered through the musical history of Cuba, and adapted by Latin jazz
Latin jazz
Latin jazz is the general term given to jazz with Latin American rhythms.The three main categories of Latin Jazz are Brazilian, Cuban and Puerto Rican:# Brazilian Latin Jazz includes bossa nova...

 and Latin popular musicians for Latino populations, especially Puerto Ricans with diverse musical tastes. The basic structure of a salsa song is based on the Cuban son, beginning with a simple melody and followed by a coro section in which the performers improvise. Ed Morales has claimed that the "key staples" of salsa's origins were the use of the trombone
Trombone
The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate...

 as a counterpoint to the vocalist and a more aggressive sound than is typical in Cuban music; the trombone also carries the melody, while the rhythm is most generally provided by bongos, congas and timbales. Peter Manuel notes how New York and Puerto Rican salsa differs from the 1950s Cuban son in various ways, such as the greater use of timbales and trombones, the occasional use of Puerto Rican elements like the declamatory exclamation le-lo-lai, its frequent lyrics about barrio life in New York and elsewhere, the "smooth" sound of the "salsa romántica" style that emerged in the 1980s, and salsa's role as a soundscape for the Latino identity movement of the 1970s.

Songs and instrumentation

Salsa bands play a wide variety of songs, including pieces based on plena
Plena
Plena is a folkloric genre native to Puerto Rico. Its creation was influenced by African and Spanish music.-History:The music is generally folkloric. The music's beat and rhythm are usually played using hand drums called panderetas, but also known as panderos or pleneras. The music is accompanied...

s and bomba
Bomba
Bomba is one of the traditional musical styles of Puerto Rico. it is a largely African-derived music. The rhythm and beat are played by a set of floor drums, cuá and a maraca. Dance is an integral part of the music: the dancers move their bodies to every beat of the drum, making bomba a very...

s, cumbia
Cumbia
Cumbia is a music genre popular across Latin America. The cumbia originated in the Caribbean coast of Colombia, where it is associated with an eponymous dance and has since spread as far as Mexico and Argentina...

, vallenato
Vallenato
Vallenato, along with cumbia, is currently a popular folk music of Colombia. It primarily comes from the Colombia's Caribbean region. Vallenato literally means "born in the valley". The valley influencing this name is located between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía de Perijá in...

 and merengue; most songs, however, are modern versions of the Cuban son
Son (music)
The Son cubano is a style of music that originated in Cuba and gained worldwide popularity in the 1930s. Son combines the structure and elements of Spanish canción and the Spanish guitar with African rhythms and percussion instruments of Bantu and Arará origin...

. Like the son, salsa songs begin with a songlike section followed by a montuno break with call-and-response vocals, instrumental breaks and jazzy solos. In the United States, the music of a salsa club
Nightclub
A nightclub is an entertainment venue which usually operates late into the night...

 is a mix of salsa, merengue, cha-cha-cha, cumbia
Cumbia
Cumbia is a music genre popular across Latin America. The cumbia originated in the Caribbean coast of Colombia, where it is associated with an eponymous dance and has since spread as far as Mexico and Argentina...

, and bachata, whether sourced from a live band or a DJ. Some salsa clubs also add reggaeton
Reggaeton
Reggaeton is a form of Puerto Rican and Latin American urban and Caribbean music. After its mainstream exposure in 2004, it spread to North American, European and Asian audiences. Reggaeton originated in Puerto Rico but is also has roots from Reggae en Español from Panama and Puerto Rico and...

 to the mix due to its popularity with youth.

The most important instrumentation in salsa is the percussion, which is played by a wide variety of instruments, including claves, cowbells, timbales
Timbales
Timbales are shallow single-headed drums with metal casing, invented in Cuba. They are shallower in shape than single-headed tom-toms, and usually much higher tuned...

 and conga
Conga
The conga, or more properly the tumbadora, is a tall, narrow, single-headed Cuban drum with African antecedents. It is thought to be derived from the Makuta drums or similar drums associated with Afro-Cubans of Central African descent. A person who plays conga is called a conguero...

. Apart from percussion, other core instruments are the trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

s, trombone
Trombone
The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate...

s, and bass guitar
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

. Other melodic instruments are commonly used as accompaniment, such as a guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

, the piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

, and many others, all depending on the performing artists. The tres
Tres
The tres is a 3-course, 6-string chordophone which was created in Cuba. A tres player is called a tresero in Cuba and a tresista in Puerto Rico.-Cuban tres:In Cuba, the son was created as a song and a salon dance genre...

 guitar was used in a particular style of band known as a conjunto
Conjunto
Conjunto literally translates as "group," and is regionally accepted in Texas as defining a genre of music that was born out of south Texas at the end of the 19th Century, after German settlers introduced the button accordion. The bajo sexto has come to accompany the button accordion and is...

 but that format is nearly extinct and it is indeed a rarity to find a band that uses a tres. Bands typically consist of up to a dozen people, one of whom serves as band leader, directing the music as it is played. Two to four players generally specialize in horns, while there are generally one or two choral singers and players of the bongo, conga, bass guitar, piano and timbales. The maracas, claves or güiro
Güiro
The güiro is a Latin-American percussion instrument consisting of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel notches cut in one side. It is played by rubbing a stick or tines along the notches to produce a ratchet-like sound. The güiro is commonly used in Latin-American music, and plays a key role...

 may also be played, typically by a vocalist. The bongocero (Bongo player) will usually switch to a kind of bell called a campana (or bongo bell) for the montuno section of a song. Horns are typically either two trumpets or four trumpets or, most commonly, two trumpets with at least one saxophone or trombone.

Salsa essentially remains a form of dance music
Dance music
Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement...

; thus, many songs have little in the way of lyrics beyond exhortations to dance or other simple words. Modern pop-salsa is often romántica, defined partially by the sentimental, lovelorn lyrics, or erótica, defined largely by the sexually explicit lyrics. Salsa also has a long tradition of lyrical experimentation, with singer-songwriters like Rubén Blades
Rubén Blades
Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna is a Panamanian salsa singer, songwriter, lawyer, actor, Latin jazz musician, and politician, performing musically most often in the Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres...

 using incisive lyrics about everything from imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 to disarmament
Disarmament
Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament generally refers to a country's military or specific type of weaponry. Disarmament is often taken to mean total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear arms...

 and environmentalism
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

. Vocalists are expected to be able to improvise during verses and instrumental solos. References to Afro-Catholic religions, such as Santería
Santería
Santería is a syncretic religion of West African and Caribbean origin influenced by Roman Catholic Christianity, also known as Regla de Ocha, La Regla Lucumi, or Lukumi. Its liturgical language, a dialect of Yoruba, is also known as Lucumi....

, are also a major part of salsa's lyrics throughout Latin America, even among those artists who are not themselves practitioners of any Afro-Catholic religion.

Rhythm

Salsa music traditionally utilizes a 4/4 time signature
Time signature
The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and which note value constitutes one beat....

. Musicians play recurring rhythmic accompaniments often in groups of eight beats (two measures of four quarter note
Quarter note
A quarter note or crotchet is a note played for one quarter of the duration of a whole note . Often people will say that a crotchet is one beat, however, this is not always correct, as the beat is indicated by the time signature of the music; a quarter note may or may not be the beat...

s), while melodic phrases
Phrase (music)
In music and music theory, phrase and phrasing are concepts and practices related to grouping consecutive melodic notes, both in their composition and performance...

 span eight or sixteen beats, with entire stanzas spanning thirty-two beats.

While percussion instrument
Percussion instrument
A percussion instrument is any object which produces a sound when hit with an implement or when it is shaken, rubbed, scraped, or otherwise acted upon in a way that sets the object into vibration...

s layer several different rhythmic patterns simultaneously, the clave rhythm
Clave (rhythm)
The clave rhythmic pattern is used as a tool for temporal organization in Afro-Cuban music, such as rumba, conga de comparsa, son, son montuno, mambo, salsa, Latin jazz, songo and timba. The five-stroke clave pattern represents the structural core of many Afro-Cuban rhythms...

 is the foundation of salsa; all salsa music and dance is governed by the clave rhythm from the Cuban Son. The most common clave rhythm in salsa is the so-called son clave, which is eight beats long and can be played either in 2–3 or 3–2 style.
The 2–3 clave The 3–2 clave
1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8. 1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8.
..*.*...*..*..*. *..*..*...*.*...


Even when the clave rhythm is not played by its own, it functions as a basis for the instrumentalists and singers to use as a common rhythmic ground for their own musical phrases. The instrumentalists emphasize the differences of the two halves of the eight-beat clave rhythm; for example, in an eight-beat-long phrase used in a 2–3 clave context, the first half of the phrase is given more straight notes that are played directly on beat, while the second half instead contains notes with longer durations and with a more off-beat feeling. This emphasizes that the first four beats of the 2–3 son clave contain two "short" strikes that are directly on beat, while the last four beats contain three "long" clave strikes with the second strike placed offbeat between beats two and three. Salsa songs occasionally start with one clave and then switch to the reverse partway through the song, without restarting the clave rhythm; instead, the rhythm is shifted four beats using breaks
Break (music)
In popular music, a break is an instrumental or percussion section or interlude during a song derived from or related to stop-time – being a "break" from the main parts of the song or piece....

 and stop-time
Stop-time
In tap dancing, jazz, and blues, stop-time is an accompaniment pattern interrupting, or stopping, the normal time and featuring regular accented attacks on the first beat of each or every other measure alternating with silence or solos. Stop-time appears infrequently in ragtime music...

.

Percussion instruments have standard patterns that reoccur in most salsa music with only slight variations. For example, this is a common rhythmic pattern called the cáscara based on the 2–3 clave, and is played on the shells of the timbales
Timbales
Timbales are shallow single-headed drums with metal casing, invented in Cuba. They are shallower in shape than single-headed tom-toms, and usually much higher tuned...

 during the verses and less energetic parts of a song:
Timbales cáscara rhythm in 2–3 clave
1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8. (beats)
*.*.**.**.**.*.* (* = cáscara strikes)


During the chorus and solo parts, the timbalero often switches to the following rhythm, which is normally played on a cowbell (the mambo bell) mounted on the timbales set:
Timbales mambo bell rhythm
Bell pattern
A bell pattern is a rhythmic pattern, often a key pattern , performed on metal bells such as an agogô, gankoqui, cowbell or similar percussion instruments such as the metal shell of the timbales or drum kit cymbal.-sub-Saharan African music:The use of iron bells in sub-Saharan African music is...

 in 2–3 clave
1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8. (beats)
+.*.+++*.++*+.+* (+/* = weak/accented cowbell strikes)


The timbales pattern above is often accompanied by a handheld cowbell (the bongo bell) also played during the chorus but by another person, using this simpler rhythm:
Handheld bongo bell rhythm in 2–3 clave
1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8. (beats)
+.*.+.**+.**+.** (+/* = low/high-pitched cowbell strikes)


The piano has many roles in salsa, being an important solo instrument and providing harmony, rhythm and sometimes even the lead melody. During the montuno section, in which the singers and chorus engage in a call and response pattern of singing, the piano player plays a repeating ostinato figure known as a guajeo or tumbao which serves as a backbone for the rhythm section. The piano always respects the clave. The montuno patterns have many variations, but are basically highly syncopated two-bar vamps made to match the clave. According to Rebeca Mauleon "the feeling of the montuno is highly pushed, but never rushed." The author further explains the basic voicings which "consist of the left hand playing the chord as a triad and the right hand doubling the bottom note of the chord on the top (creating the octave outer voice)."
Piano montuno rhythm in 2–3 clave
1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8. (beats)
*.**.*.*.*.*.*.* (* = key strikes)


The bass pattern often follows a distinct salsa rhythm pattern known as the tumbao
Tumbao
In music of afro-Cuban origin, tumbao refers to the basic rhythm played on the tumbadoras and the bass.- Drum Pattern :The basic tumbao pattern is played on the conga the drum is struck on every 8th-beat in the measure in the following sequence:...

 which alternates between the fifth and the root of a chord. One side of the tumbao will be in near unison with the clave, while the other side is syncopated against the clave:
Bass tumbao rhythm
1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8. (beats)
...5..8....5..1. (5 = fifth of chord, 8 = high octave of chord, 1 = low octave of chord)

Lyricism

Salsa lyrics range from simple dance numbers with little lyrical innovation and sentimental romantic songs to risqué and politically-radical lyrics. Music author Isabelle Leymarie notes that salsa performers often incorporate machoistic bravado (guapería) in their lyrics, in a manner reminiscent of calypso
Calypso music
Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from African and European roots. The roots of the genre lay in the arrival of enslaved Africans, who, not being allowed to speak with each other, communicated through song...

 and samba, a theme she ascribes to the performers' "humble backgrounds" and subsequent need to compensate for their origins. Leymarie claims that salsa is "essentially virile, an affirmation of the Latin man's pride and identity". As an extension of salsa's macho stance, manly taunts and challenges (desafio) are also a traditional part of salsa.

Politically and socially activist composers have long been an important part of salsa, and some of their works, like Eddie Palmieri's "La libertad - lógico", became Latin and especially Puerto Rican anthems. Many salsa songs use a nationalist theme, centered on a sense of pride in Black Latino identity, and may be in Spanish, English or a mixture of the two called Spanglish
Spanglish
.Spanglish refers to the blend of Spanish and English, in the speech of people who speak parts of two languages, or whose normal language is different from that of the country where they live. The Hispanic population of the United States and the British population in Argentina use varieties of...

.

History

In the 1930s, '40s and '50s, Cuban music within Cuba was evolving into new styles derived primarily from son
Son (music)
The Son cubano is a style of music that originated in Cuba and gained worldwide popularity in the 1930s. Son combines the structure and elements of Spanish canción and the Spanish guitar with African rhythms and percussion instruments of Bantu and Arará origin...

 and rumba
Rumba
Rumba is a family of percussive rhythms, song and dance that originated in Cuba as a combination of the musical traditions of Africans brought to Cuba as slaves and Spanish colonizers. The name derives from the Cuban Spanish word rumbo which means "party" or "spree". It is secular, with no...

, while the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in New York began playing their own distinctive styles. Their music included son and guaracha
Guaracha
The guaracha is a genre of Cuban popular music, of rapid tempo and with lyrics. The word had been used in this sense at least since the late 18th and early 19th century. Guarachas were played and sung in musical theatres and in low-class dance salons. They became an integral part of Bufo comic...

s, as well as tango, bolero
Bolero
Bolero is a form of slow-tempo Latin music and its associated dance and song. There are Spanish and Cuban forms which are both significant and which have separate origins.The term is also used for some art music...

 and danza
Danza
Danza is a musical genre that originated in Ponce, a city in southern Puerto Rico. It is a popular turn-of-the-twentieth-century ballroom dance genre slightly similar to the waltz. Both the danza and its cousin the contradanza are sequence dances, performed to a pattern, usually of squares, to...

, with prominent influences from jazz. While the New York scene continued evolving, Cuban popular music, especially mambo, became very famous across the United States. This was followed by a series of other genres of Cuban music, which especially affected the Latin scene in New York. Many Latin musicians in New York were Puerto Rican, and it was these performers who innovated the style now known as salsa music, based largely on Cuban music.

The diasporic nature of these Cuban and Puerto Rican communities in New York, which set the foundation for the expansion, and eventual creation of, the genre now known as salsa. With the influx of Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican immigrants in America since the 1950s, a unique Afro-Caribbean diaspora was in play. Artists such as Willie Colón
Willie Colón
William Anthony Colón is a Nuyorican salsa musician. Primarily a trombonist, Colón also sings, writes, produces and acts. He is also involved in municipal politics in New York City.-Early years:...

, amongst others, were well known for traveling back and forth between The Bronx
The Bronx
The Bronx is the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City. It is also known as Bronx County, the last of the 62 counties of New York State to be incorporated...

 and his homeland of Puerto Rico. In his travels, Willie Colón collected influences of the Afro-Cuban
Afro-Cuban
The term Afro-Cuban refers to Cubans of Sub Saharan African ancestry, and to historical or cultural elements in Cuba thought to emanate from this community...

, Puerto Rican, and Nuyorican
Nuyorican
Nuyorican is a portmanteau of the terms "New York" and "Puerto Rican" and refers to the members or culture of the Puerto Rican diaspora located in or around New York State especially the New York City metropolitan area, or of their descendants...

 communities and demonstrated these through much of his music. Alongside another Salsa pioneer, Héctor Lavoe
Héctor Lavoe
Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez , better known as Héctor Lavoe, was a Puerto Rican salsa singer. Lavoe was born and raised in the Machuelito sector of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Early in his life, he attended a local music school and developed an interest inspired by Jesús Sánchez Erazo. He moved to New York...

, both artists combined musical traditions in a manner that showcased and in many ways reflected the culture and soundscape of their New York barrio
Barrio
Barrio is a Spanish word meaning district or neighborhood.-Usage:In its formal usage in English, barrios are generally considered cohesive places, sharing, for example, a church and traditions such as feast days...

s while still paying homage to their beloved Puerto Rico.

Salsa evolved steadily through the later 1970s and into the '80s and '90s. New instruments were adopted and new national styles, like the music of Brazil
Music of Brazil
The music of Brazil encompasses various regional music styles influenced by African, European and Amerindian forms. After 500 years of history, Brazilian music developed some unique and original styles such as samba, zouk-lambada, lambada, choro, bossa nova, frevo, maracatu, MPB, sertanejo,...

, were adapted to salsa. New subgenres appeared, such as the sweet love songs called salsa romantica
Salsa romantica
Salsa Romántica, also known as Salsa Erotica, is a soft form of salsa music that emerged between the mid 1980s and early 1990s in New York City and Puerto Rico...

, while salsa became a major part of the music scene in Venezuela, and as far away as Japan. Diverse influences, including most prominently hip hop music
Hip hop music
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted...

, came to shape the evolving genre. By the turn of the century, salsa was one of the major fields of popular music in the world, and salsa stars were international celebrities.

Origins

Salsa's most direct antecedent is Cuban son
Son (music)
The Son cubano is a style of music that originated in Cuba and gained worldwide popularity in the 1930s. Son combines the structure and elements of Spanish canción and the Spanish guitar with African rhythms and percussion instruments of Bantu and Arará origin...

, which itself is a combination of Spanish and African influences. Large son bands were very popular in Cuba beginning in the 1930s; these were largely septetos and sextetos, and they quickly spread to the United States. In the 1940s Cuban dance bands grew much larger, becoming mambo and charanga
Charanga
Charanga is a term given to traditional ensembles of Cuban dance music. They made Cuban dance music popular in the 1940s and their music consisted of heavily son-influenced material, performed on European instruments such as violin and flute by a Charanga orchestra....

 orchestras led by bandleaders like Arsenio Rodríguez
Arsenio Rodríguez
Arsenio Rodríguez was a Cuban musician who played the tres , reorganized the conjunto and developed the son montuno, and other Afro-Cuban rhythms in the 1940s and 50s...

 and Felix Chappotin. In New York City in the '40s, at the center for mambo in the United States, the Palladium Dancehall
Palladium Ballroom
The Palladium Ballroom was a second-floor dancehall on 53rd Street and Broadway in New York City which became famous for its excellent Latin music from 1948 until its closing in 1966.-Opening of Palladium:...

, and in Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, where a burgeoning film industry attracted Latin musicians, Cuban-style big bands were formed by Cubans and Puerto Ricans like Machito
Machito
Machito , born as Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo, was an influential Latin jazz musician who helped refine Afro-Cuban jazz and create both Cubop and salsa music...

, Perez Prado
Perez Prado
Dámaso Pérez Prado was a Cuban bandleader, musician , and composer. He is often referred to as the 'King of the Mambo'.His orchestra was the most popular in mambo...

, Tito Puente
Tito Puente
Tito Puente, , born Ernesto Antonio Puente, was a Latin jazz and Salsa musician. The son of native Puerto Ricans Ernest and Ercilia Puente, of Spanish Harlem in New York City, Puente is often credited as "El Rey de los Timbales" and "The King of Latin Music"...

 and Tito Rodríguez
Tito Rodriguez
Tito Rodríguez was a popular 1950s and 1960s Puerto Rican singer and bandleader. He is known by many fans as "El Inolvidable" , a moniker based on his most popular interpretation, a song written by composer Julio Gutierrez.-Early years:Rodríguez , born in Santurce, Puerto Rico,...

. New York began developing its own Cuban-derived sound, spurred by large-scale Latino immigration, the rise of local record labels due to the early 1940s musicians strike and the spread of the jukebox
Jukebox
A jukebox is a partially automated music-playing device, usually a coin-operated machine, that will play a patron's selection from self-contained media...

 industry, and the craze for big band
Big band
A big band is a type of musical ensemble associated with jazz and the Swing Era typically consisting of rhythm, brass, and woodwind instruments totaling approximately twelve to twenty-five musicians...

 dance music.

Mambo was very jazz-influenced, and it was the mambo big bands that kept alive the large jazz band tradition while the mainstream current of jazz was moving on to the smaller bands of the bebop
Bebop
Bebop differed drastically from the straightforward compositions of the swing era, and was instead characterized by fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, intricate melodies, and rhythm sections that expanded on their role as tempo-keepers...

 era. Throughout the 1950s Latin dance music, such as mambo, rumba
Rumba
Rumba is a family of percussive rhythms, song and dance that originated in Cuba as a combination of the musical traditions of Africans brought to Cuba as slaves and Spanish colonizers. The name derives from the Cuban Spanish word rumbo which means "party" or "spree". It is secular, with no...

 and chachachá, was mainstream popular music in the United States and Europe. The '50s also saw a decline in popularity for mambo big bands, followed by the Cuban Revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

 of 1959, which greatly inhibited contact between New York and Cuba. The result was a scene more dominated by Puerto Ricans than Cubans.

1960s

The Latin music scene of early 1960s New York was dominated by bands led by musicians such as Ray Barretto
Ray Barretto
Ray Barretto was a Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican jazz musician.-Early years:Barretto was born in New York City of Puerto Rican descent...

, Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco is a Dominican producer, musician, bandleader, and one of the most influential figures in American salsa music.-Early life:...

 and Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri , is a Grammy Award winning Puerto Rican pianist, bandleader and musician, best known for combining jazz piano and instrumental solos with Latin rhythms.-Early years:...

, whose style was influenced by imported Cuban fads such as pachanga
Pachanga
- Music :In Cuba in 1955, Los Papines fused the violin-based music of charangas and the trumpet-based music of conjuntos Eduardo Davidson's La Pachanga , recorded by Orquesta Sublime, introduced Cuba to a Colombian dance...

 and charanga
Charanga
Charanga is a term given to traditional ensembles of Cuban dance music. They made Cuban dance music popular in the 1940s and their music consisted of heavily son-influenced material, performed on European instruments such as violin and flute by a Charanga orchestra....

; after the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

 of 1962, however, Cuban-American contact declined precipitously, and Puerto Ricans became a larger part of the New York Latin music scene. During this time a hybrid Nuyorican
Nuyorican
Nuyorican is a portmanteau of the terms "New York" and "Puerto Rican" and refers to the members or culture of the Puerto Rican diaspora located in or around New York State especially the New York City metropolitan area, or of their descendants...

 cultural identity emerged, primarily Puerto Rican but influenced by many Latin cultures as well as the close contact with African Americans.

The growth of modern salsa, however, is said to have begun in the streets of New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 in the late 1960s. By this time Latin pop was no longer a major force in American music, having lost ground to doo wop, R&B
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

 and rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

; there were a few youth fad
FAD
In biochemistry, flavin adenine dinucleotide is a redox cofactor involved in several important reactions in metabolism. FAD can exist in two different redox states, which it converts between by accepting or donating electrons. The molecule consists of a riboflavin moiety bound to the phosphate...

s for Latin dances, such as the soul
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

 and mambo fusion boogaloo
Boogaloo
Boogaloo or bugalú is a genre of Latin music and dance that was popular in the United States in the 1960s. Boogaloo originated in New York City among teenage Cubans, Puerto Ricans and other groups. The style was a fusion of popular African American R&B and soul with mambo and son montuno...

, but Latin music ceased to be a major part of American popular music. Few Latin record labels had any significant distribution, the two exceptions being Tico
Tico Records
Tico Records was a New York record label that was founded in 1948. It was originally owned by George Goldner and later acquired by Morris Levy and incorporated into Roulette Records. It specialized in Latin music and was significant for introducing artists such as Ray Barretto and Tito Puente...

 and Alegre
Alegre Records
Alegre Records was a New York record label that was founded in 1956 by Al Santiago who owned a 1950s record store in The Bronx named Casalegre and co-founded by clothing businessman Ben Perlman...

. Though East Harlem had long been a center for Latin music in New York, during the 1960s many of the venues there shut down, and Brooklyn Heights' Saint George Hotel became "salsa's first stronghold". Performers there included Joe Bataan
Joe Bataan
Joe Bataan is a Filipino-African American Latin R&B musician from New York.- Early life and career :...

 and the Lebron Brothers.

The late 1960s also saw white youth joining a counterculture
Counterculture
Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. Counterculture can also be described as a group whose behavior...

 heavily associated with political activism, while black youth formed radical organizations like the Black Panthers. Inspired by these movements, Latinos in New York formed the Young Lords
Young Lords
The Young Lords, later Young Lords Organization and in New York , Young Lords Party, was a Puerto Rican nationalist group in several United States cities, notably New York City and Chicago.-Founding:...

, rejected assimilation and "made the barrio a cauldron of militant assertiveness and artistic creativity". The musical aspect of this social change was based on the Cuban son, which had long been the favored musical form for urbanites in both Puerto Rico and New York. By the early 1970s, salsa's center moved to Manhattan and the Cheetah
Cheetah (nightclub)
Cheetah was a discotheque in Manhattan, New York City which opened May 28, 1966, and closed in the 1970s.The club was located at 53rd Street and Broadway.Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern were associated with the club....

, where promoter Ralph Mercado
Ralph Mercado
Ralph Mercado Jr. was a promoter of Latin American music — Latin Jazz, Latin rock, merengue and salsa — who established a network of businesses that included promoting concerts, managing artists, Radio Mundo Musical a record label the most important in the Latin industry during 1980-1990, film...

 introduced many future stars to an ever-growing and diverse crowd of Latino audiences.

The Manhattan-based recording company, Fania Records
Fania Records
Fania Records was a New York based record label founded by Dominican-born composer and bandleader Johnny Pacheco and Italian-American lawyer Jerry Masucci in 1964. The label took its name from an old Cuban song by the singer Reinaldo Bolaño. Fania is known for its promotion of what has become...

, introduced many of the first-generation salsa singers and musicians to the world. Founded by Dominican flautist and band-leader Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco is a Dominican producer, musician, bandleader, and one of the most influential figures in American salsa music.-Early life:...

 and impresario Jerry Masucci
Jerry Masucci
Jerry Masucci was a co-founder of Fania Records.-Early life:Masucci was born October 7, 1934, in Brooklyn, to parents Urbano and Elvira Masucci. He had a brother named Alex Masucci...

, Fania's illustrious career began with Willie Colón
Willie Colón
William Anthony Colón is a Nuyorican salsa musician. Primarily a trombonist, Colón also sings, writes, produces and acts. He is also involved in municipal politics in New York City.-Early years:...

 and Héctor Lavoe
Héctor Lavoe
Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez , better known as Héctor Lavoe, was a Puerto Rican salsa singer. Lavoe was born and raised in the Machuelito sector of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Early in his life, he attended a local music school and developed an interest inspired by Jesús Sánchez Erazo. He moved to New York...

's El Malo in 1967. This was followed by a series of updated son montuno
Son montuno
The son montuno is a style of the Cuban son, but exactly what it means is not an easy question to answer. The son itself is the most important genre of Cuban popular music. In addition, it is perhaps the most flexible of all forms of Latin-American music...

 and plena
Plena
Plena is a folkloric genre native to Puerto Rico. Its creation was influenced by African and Spanish music.-History:The music is generally folkloric. The music's beat and rhythm are usually played using hand drums called panderetas, but also known as panderos or pleneras. The music is accompanied...

 tunes that evolved into modern salsa by 1973. Pacheco put together a team that included percussionist Louie Ramirez
Louie Ramirez
Louie Ramirez was a boogaloo, salsa and latin jazz percussionist, vibraphonist, band leader and composer. He was born on February 24, 1938 in New York City. He died on June 7, 1993...

, bassist Bobby Valentín
Bobby Valentin
Bobby Valentin, also known as "El Rey del Bajo" , is a musician and salsa bandleader.-Early years:...

 and arranger Larry Harlow. The Fania team released a string of successful singles, mostly son and plena, performing live after forming the Fania All-Stars
Fania All-Stars
The Fania All-Stars was a musical ensemble established in 1968 by the composer, Johnny Pacheco, as a showcase for the musicians on the record label Fania Records, the leading salsa record company of the time.-Beginnings:...

 in 1971; just two years later, the All Stars sold out Yankee Stadium. One of their 1971 performances at the Cheetah nightclub, was a historic concert that drew several thousand people and helped to spark a salsa boom.

The city of Cali
Calì
Calì, also written in English as Cali, is an Italian surname, widespread mainly in the Ionian side of Sicily.For the surname Calì is assumed the origin of the Greek word kalos , or from its Sanskrit root kali, "time."The surname refers to:...

, Colombia became that country's major center for salsa in the late 1960s (and continues to be to this day), when salsa became a major part of the local Feria de la Caña de Azucar
Cali Fair
The Cali's Fair is the most important cultural event in Cali, Colombia. It is a celebration of the region's cultural identity, famous for the Salsa marathon, horse riding parades and dance parties....

. Salsa also established itself in Guayaquil
Guayaquil
Guayaquil , officially Santiago de Guayaquil , is the largest and the most populous city in Ecuador,with about 2.3 million inhabitants in the city and nearly 3.1 million in the metropolitan area, as well as that nation's main port...

 Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

 Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 and Panama City
Panama City
Panama is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama. It has a population of 880,691, with a total metro population of 1,272,672, and it is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of the same name. The city is the political and administrative center of the...

 Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

.

1970s

From New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 salsa quickly expanded back to Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, and other Latin countries (except Cuba due to the Cuban Embargo), while the new style became a symbol of "pride and cultural identity" for Latinos. The number of salsa bands, both in New York and elsewhere, increased dramatically in the 70s, as did salsa-oriented radio stations and record labels.In 1975 New York, DJ and conga drummer, Roger Dawson
Roger Dawson
Roger Dawson is a jazz percussionist, conga drummer, bandleader and jazz composer. He was a leading jazz and salsa disc jockey in the USA and acknowledged as at the forefront of New York's Salsa music explosion of the seventies and early eighties...

 created the "Sunday Salsa Show" over WRVR FM which became one of the highest rated radio shows in the New York market with a reported audience of over a quarter of a million listeners every Sunday(per Arbitron Radio Ratings). Ironically, although New York's Hispanic population at that time was over two million, there had been no commercial Hispanic FM. Given his Jazz and Salsa conga playing experience and knowledge (working as a sideman with such bands as Salsa's Frankie Dante's Orqesta Flamboyan and Jazz icon Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp is a prominent African-American jazz saxophonist. Shepp is best known for his passionately Afrocentric music of the late 1960s, which focused on highlighting the injustices faced by the African-Americans, as well as for his work with the New York Contemporary Five, Horace Parlan, and...

), Mr. Dawson also created the long running "Salsa Meets Jazz" weekly concert series at the famous Village Gate jazz club where a famous Jazz musician would sit in with an established Salsa band such as Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and an Academy Award-nominated actor . He is regarded as one of the first and most important musicians to adapt the bebop musical language of people like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bud Powell to the tenor saxophone...

 with the Machito
Machito
Machito , born as Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo, was an influential Latin jazz musician who helped refine Afro-Cuban jazz and create both Cubop and salsa music...

 band. There is no question that Mr. Dawson was responsible for helping to broaden New York's Salsa audience and for "breaking" many new Salsa albums and artists such as the bi-lingual Angel Canales who were not given play on the Hispanic AM stations of that time. His show won several awards from the readers of Latin New York magazine, Izzy Sanabria's Salsa Magazine at that time and ran until late 1980 when Viacom, in a slap to the face of New York Hispanics, changed the format of WRVR to country music. Popular performers like Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri , is a Grammy Award winning Puerto Rican pianist, bandleader and musician, best known for combining jazz piano and instrumental solos with Latin rhythms.-Early years:...

 and Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz was a Cuban-American salsa singer, and was one of the most successful Salsa performers of the 20th century, having earned twenty-three gold albums...

 adapted to the salsa format, joined by more authentically traditional singers like Willie Colón
Willie Colón
William Anthony Colón is a Nuyorican salsa musician. Primarily a trombonist, Colón also sings, writes, produces and acts. He is also involved in municipal politics in New York City.-Early years:...

 and Rubén Blades
Rubén Blades
Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna is a Panamanian salsa singer, songwriter, lawyer, actor, Latin jazz musician, and politician, performing musically most often in the Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres...

. Colón and Blades worked together for much of the 1970s and '80s, becoming some of the most critically and popularly acclaimed salsa performers in the world. Their lyricism set them apart from others; Blades became a "mouthpiece for oppressed Latin America", while Colón composed "potent", "socio-political vignettes". Their 1978 album Siembra was, at that time, the best-selling Latin album in history.

The 1970s saw a number of musical innovations among salsa musicians. The bandleader Willie Colón introduced the cuatro
Cuatro (instrument)
The cuatro is any of several Latin American instruments of the guitar or lute family. The cuatro is smaller than a guitar. Cuatro means four in Spanish, although current instruments may have more than four strings....

, a rural Puerto Rican plucked string instrument
Plucked string instrument
Plucked string instruments are a subcategory of string instruments that are played by plucking the strings. Plucking is a way of pulling and releasing the string in such as way as to give it an impulse that causes the string to vibrate...

, as well as jazz, rock, and Panamanian
Music of Panama
Panama is a Central American country, inhabited mostly by mestizos . The music of Panama was influenced first by the indigenous populations of Kunas, Teribes, Nobe Bugle and others, and then by the black population who were brought over, first as slaves from Africa, and also Colombia between the...

 and Brazilian music
Music of Brazil
The music of Brazil encompasses various regional music styles influenced by African, European and Amerindian forms. After 500 years of history, Brazilian music developed some unique and original styles such as samba, zouk-lambada, lambada, choro, bossa nova, frevo, maracatu, MPB, sertanejo,...

. Larry Harlow, the arranger for Fania Records, modernized salsa by adding an electric piano
Electric piano
An electric piano is an electric musical instrument.Electric pianos produce sounds mechanically and the sounds are turned into electrical signals by pickups. Unlike a synthesizer, the electric piano is not an electronic instrument, but electro-mechanical. The earliest electric pianos were invented...

. By the end of the decade, Fania Records' longtime leadership of salsa was weakened by the arrival of the labels TH-Rodven and RMM
Rmm
RMM may refer to;* Riverside Metropolitan Museum, in Riverside, California, United States.** Riverside Municipal Museum, a previous name of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum.* Molecular Mass, or more specifically relative molecular mass...

. Salsa had come to be perceived as "contaminated by fusion
Jazz fusion
Jazz fusion is a musical fusion genre that developed from mixing funk and R&B rhythms and the amplification and electronic effects of rock, complex time signatures derived from non-Western music and extended, typically instrumental compositions with a jazz approach to lengthy group improvisations,...

 and disco
Disco
Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. It had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, gay, psychedelic, and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and...

", and took elements from disparate styles like go-go, while many young Latinos turned to hip hop
Hip hop music
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted...

, techno or other styles. Salsa began spreading throughout Latin America in the 1970s, especially to Colombia, where a new generation of performers began to combine salsa with elements of cumbia
Cumbia
Cumbia is a music genre popular across Latin America. The cumbia originated in the Caribbean coast of Colombia, where it is associated with an eponymous dance and has since spread as far as Mexico and Argentina...

 and vallenato
Vallenato
Vallenato, along with cumbia, is currently a popular folk music of Colombia. It primarily comes from the Colombia's Caribbean region. Vallenato literally means "born in the valley". The valley influencing this name is located between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía de Perijá in...

; this fusion tradition can be traced back to the 1960s work of Peregoyo y su Combo Vacana. However, it was Joe Arroyo
Joe Arroyo
Álvaro José Arroyo González was a Colombian salsa and tropical music singer, composer and songwriter. Considered one of the greatest performers of Caribbean music in his country....

 and La Verdad
La Verdad
Diario La Verdad is a Venezuelan regional newspaper, headquartered in Maracaibo, in the western state of Zulia. Its slogan is "Por la libertad intelectual del Zulia" ....

, his band, that popularized Colombian salsa beginning in the 1980s.

1980s

The 1980s was a time of diversification, as popular salsa evolved into sweet and smooth salsa romantica
Salsa romantica
Salsa Romántica, also known as Salsa Erotica, is a soft form of salsa music that emerged between the mid 1980s and early 1990s in New York City and Puerto Rico...

, with lyrics dwelling on love and romance, and its more explicit cousin, salsa erotica. Salsa romantica can be traced back to Noches Calientes, a 1984 album by singer José Alberto
José Alberto
José Alberto is a Dominican salsa singer. José Alberto moved to Puerto Rico with his family at the age of 7, and inspired by Latin music went on to polish his singing at Las Antillas Military Academy...

 with producer Louie Ramirez. A wave of romantica singers, found wide audiences with a new style characterized by romantic lyrics, an emphasis on the melody over rhythm, and use of percussion breaks and chord changes. However, salsa lost popularity among many Latino youth, who were drawn to American rock in large numbers, while the popularization of Dominican merengue
Merengue music
Merengue is a type of music and dance from the Dominican Republic. It is popular in the Dominican Republic and all over Latin America. Its name is Spanish, taken from the name of the meringue, a dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar...

 further sapped the audience among Latinos in both New York and Puerto Rico. The 1980s also saw salsa expand to Mexico, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Europe and Japan, and diversify into many new styles.

In the 1980s some performers experimented with combining elements of salsa with hip hop music
Hip hop music
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted...

, while the producer and pianist Sergio George
Sergio George
Sergio George is a pianist and record producer, known for working with many famous performers of salsa music, although he has worked in other genres as well...

 helped to revive salsa's commercial success. He created a sound based on prominent trombones and rootsy, mambo-inspired style. He worked with the Japanese salsa band Orquesta de la Luz
Orquesta de la Luz
is a Japanese salsa band that began performing and recording in 1990. The band sings in Spanish, and is led by vocalist Nora, who returned to traditional salsa after the band broke up in the mid-1990s...

, and developed a studio orchestra that included Tito Nieves
Tito Nieves
Humberto "Tito" Nieves became one of the leading Salsa singers of the 1980s and the early 1990s....

, Celia Cruz, José Alberto, La India
La India
La India , known also as "La Princesa de la Salsa" , is a singer of salsa. She has been nominated for both Grammy and Latin Grammy awards.-Early years:...

, Tito Puente
Tito Puente
Tito Puente, , born Ernesto Antonio Puente, was a Latin jazz and Salsa musician. The son of native Puerto Ricans Ernest and Ercilia Puente, of Spanish Harlem in New York City, Puente is often credited as "El Rey de los Timbales" and "The King of Latin Music"...

 and Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique
Luís Enrique is a given name, and may refer to:*Luis Enrique Martínez García, Spanish football manager and former player*Luis Enrique "Neco" Martinez, Colombian football goalkeeper*Luis Enrique, Nicaraguan salsa singer...

. The Colombian singer Joe Arroyo first rose to fame in the 1970s, but became a renowned exponent of Colombian salsa in the 1980s. Arroyo worked for many years with the Colombian arranger Fruko y sus Tesos
Fruko y sus Tesos
Fruko y sus Tesos is a salsa group from Colombia which enjoys immense popularity throughout the Latin American world. It was formed in 1970 by Julio Ernesto Estrada, artistically known as "Fruko" who modeled it after the New York salsa sound of the Fania All-Stars, one of the leading salsa groups...

 (Fruko and his band Los Tesos).

1990s to the present

In the 1990s Cuban salsa became more prominent in Europe, especially a distinct genre called timba
Timba
Timba is a Cuban genre of music sometimes referred as salsa cubana . However, the historical development of timba has been quite independent of the development of salsa in the United States and Puerto Rico and the music has its own trademark aspects due to the Cuban embargo and strong Afro-Cuban...

. Using the complex songo
Songo music
Songo is a type of Cuban music originating in Havana which combines elements from the rumba, son Cubano, and other contemporary afro-American styles like jazz and funk...

 rhythm, bands like NG La Banda
NG La Banda
NG La Banda is a Cuban musical group founded by flutist José Luis Cortés. NG stands for "nueva generación" - next generation.In the late 1980s this group was founded with musicians like Elpidio Chapottin , Feliciano Arango, Rodolfo Argudin-Peruchin , Tony Cala , Issac Delgado , German Velasco , and...

 and Los Van Van
Los Van Van
Los Van Van is a Cuban band led by bassist Juan Formell, it is one of the most recognized post-revolution Cuban bands, while Juan Formell has arguably become the most important figure in contemporary Cuban music....

 developed timba.

Salsa remained a major part of Colombian music through the 1990s, producing popular bands like Sonora Carruseles
Sonora Carruseles
La Sonora Carruseles is a salsa band originating in 1995 from Colombia. They are currently established in Miami, Florida. Their music has been featured in televised competitions such as So You Think You Can Dance.-Beginnings:...

, while the singer Carlos Vives
Carlos Vives
Carlos Alberto Vives Restrepo is a Grammy Award and three-time Latin Grammy Award winning-Colombian singer, composer and actor.-Biography:...

 created his own style that fuses salsa with vallenato
Vallenato
Vallenato, along with cumbia, is currently a popular folk music of Colombia. It primarily comes from the Colombia's Caribbean region. Vallenato literally means "born in the valley". The valley influencing this name is located between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía de Perijá in...

 and rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

. Vives' popularization of vallenato-salsa
Vallenato-salsa
Vallenato-salsa is a style of salsa music associated with Colombia. It is a combination of vallenato and salsa, and its most popular exponents are accordionists like Lizandro Meza and Alfredo Gutierrez....

 led to the accordion-led vallenato style being used by mainstream pop stars like Gloria Estefan
Gloria Estefan
Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan; known professionally as Gloria Estefan is a Cuban-born American singer, songwriter, and actress. Known as the "Queen Of Latin Pop", she is in the top 100 best selling music artists with over 100 million albums sold worldwide, 31.5 million of those...

. The city of Cali
Calì
Calì, also written in English as Cali, is an Italian surname, widespread mainly in the Ionian side of Sicily.For the surname Calì is assumed the origin of the Greek word kalos , or from its Sanskrit root kali, "time."The surname refers to:...

, in Colombia, has come to call itself the "salsa capital of the world", having produced such groups as Orquesta Guayacan and Grupo Niche
Grupo Niche
Grupo Niche is a salsa group founded in 1978 in Bogotá, Colombia. Currently based in Cali, Colombia, it enjoys great popularity throughout Latin America. It was founded by Jairo Varela and Alexis Lozano. Jairo Varela has stayed with the group becoming producer, director, songwriter, vocalist and...

 and songwriter Kike Santander
Kike Santander
Dr. Flavio Enrique Santander Lora, commonly known as Kike Santander, is a Colombian composer, record producer, arranger and entrepreneur. He is considered to be one of the principal Latino composers of the day, having worked with artists such as David Bisbal, Christian Castro, Thalía, Chayanne,...

. And producer of the Marco Barrientos Band Julian Collazos

Salsa has registered a steady growth and now dominates the airwaves in many countries in Latin America. In addition, several Latino artists, including La India
La India
La India , known also as "La Princesa de la Salsa" , is a singer of salsa. She has been nominated for both Grammy and Latin Grammy awards.-Early years:...

, Marc Anthony
Marc Anthony
Marc Anthony is an American singer-songwriter, actor and producer. Anthony is the top selling tropical salsa artist of all time. The two-time Grammy and three-time Latin Grammy–winner has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. He is best known for his Latin salsa numbers and ballads...

, Brenda K. Starr
Brenda K. Starr
Brenda K. Starr is an American singer-songwriter. She is well known originally in dance-pop, but now mostly in salsa-based music...

, Son By Four
Son By Four
Son by Four is a salsa music group from Puerto Rico, well-known for their English U.S. pop hit "Purest of Pain ". The group is signed to Sony Music Entertainment....

, Víctor Manuelle
Victor Manuelle
Víctor Manuelle, born Víctor Manuel Ruiz on November 4, 1968 in Bronx, New York, is a successful Latin Grammy nominated Puerto Rican American salsa singer, songwriter, and improvisational sonero, known to his fans as El Sonero de la Juventud...

. the Cuban-American singer Gloria Estefan
Gloria Estefan
Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan; known professionally as Gloria Estefan is a Cuban-born American singer, songwriter, and actress. Known as the "Queen Of Latin Pop", she is in the top 100 best selling music artists with over 100 million albums sold worldwide, 31.5 million of those...

 had success as crossovers, penetrating the Anglo-American pop market with Latin-tinged hits, usually sung in English.

The most recent innovations in the genre include hybrids like Latin house
Latin house
Latin house is an electronic dance music subgenre that mixes together house and Latin American music, such as that of Brazilian, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Dominican and Colombian origin.-Origins:...

, salsa-merengue and salsaton
Salsaton
-Background:Salsatón is a relatively new sub genre of both salsa and reggaetón. The songs primarily have salsa melodies and percussion, with reggaeton-style beats, such as the dem bow, and, occasionally, rapping. Some songs switch back and forth between salsa and reggaetón genres, while other songs...

, alongside salsa gorda. Since the mid-1990s African artists have also been very active through the super-group Africando
Africando
Africando is a musical project formed in 1990 to unite New York-based salsa musicians with Senegalese vocalists. Musicians from other African countries were later included under the name Africando All Stars....

, where African and New York musicians mix with leading African singers such as Bambino Diabate, Ricardo Lemvo
Ricardo Lemvo
Ricardo Lemvo is a DR Congolese singer of Angolan descent, based in Los Angeles. His music combines Cuban salsa with African rumba and soukous....

, Ismael Lo
Ismaël Lô
Ismaël Lô is a Senegalese musician. He was born in Dogondoutchi, Niger on 30 August 1956, to a Senegalese father and a Nigerien mother. Shortly after Lo's birth the family returned to Senegal where they settled in the town of Rufisque, near the capital Dakar. He also plays the guitar and the...

 and Salif Keita
Salif Keita
Salif Keïta is an internationally recognized afro-pop singer-songwriter from Mali. He is unique not only because of his reputation as the Golden Voice of Africa, but because he has albinism and is a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita...

. Salsa is only one of many Latin genres to have traveled back and influenced West African music. Not only did these often prolific singers break through but a huge influence was due to Willy Chirino's sound and style that gave the Afro style conga beats and island style of funk. He is a pioneer into bringing this sound to South Florida.

See also

  • Salsa (dance)
    Salsa (dance)
    Salsa is a syncretic dance form with origins in Cuba as the meeting point of Spanish and African cultures.Salsa is normally a partner dance, although there are recognized solo forms such as solo dancing "suelta" and "Rueda de Casino" where multiple couples exchange partners in a circle...

  • Timba
    Timba
    Timba is a Cuban genre of music sometimes referred as salsa cubana . However, the historical development of timba has been quite independent of the development of salsa in the United States and Puerto Rico and the music has its own trademark aspects due to the Cuban embargo and strong Afro-Cuban...

     - a Cuban genre of music commonly viewed as a subgenre of or related to salsa.

Further reading



External links

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