Essay: Salsa Music the Late 1950

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Salsa Music

The late 1950's is the starting point for the classification of a genre of music as salsa. The stylistic and rhythmic elements of the music have a wider history. There are elements of salsa music identified in popular Latin dance rhythms (Sommers 36). While these rhythms have given nuance to salsa music, its true beginnings lie in Afro Cuban music. Salsa music speaks to the historical experience of struggle, resistance and the desire for self-determinism possessed by Afro-Cuban slaves. Slaves chose not to adopt the cultural symbols of the slave masters and instead held on to musical forms that find modern expression through salsa.

The practice of fusing together Cuban rhythms and jazz took place in New York in the 1940's. Two of the main creators of this fusion were Cuban brothers-in-law Machito and Mario Bauza (Mauleon).The primary purpose of this music was to provide impetus for dancing. This type of experimentation with Cuban music was not limited to Cuban bands; Puerto Rican's were also engaged in the practice. Therefore, Tito Rodriguez and Tito Puente though Puerto Rican were innovators and preservers of Cuban music. There was significant cross-fertilization of the musical forms until the Cuban revolution in 1959.

With the revolution came the exodus of Cuban musicians to New York and it here that Salsa was created. Suggesting that salsa was created at this time is not to deny the influence of the Cuban son and other forms of music; rather it is an attempt to date historically a complex and diverse process that produced fantastic music (Hernandez 110). It is during the 1960's in New York that the coming together of musicians from various Spanish-speaking countries produced the musical hybrid salsa. It is also in this era that the term salsa (also a spicy dish) gained widespread usage.

Salsa is different from its Cuban ancestors because of the increased use of the trombones, the critical role of the Cuban timbales, the jazz type harmony and the integration of Puerto Rican indigenous "rhythms, instruments and stylistic elements" (Mauleon). So that salsa is not identified by one element but rather by the final product, that is the fusion of these multiple elements. The evolution of salsa music continued into the 1980's and salsa emerged as salsa romantica.

Salsa music is structured music. It has an introduction, a melodic phase, a percussion phase, (the montuno), followed by another melodic phase and the conclusion (History of Salsa). Musical exclamations proclaim a change. The percussion phase has the most rhythmic energy of all the phases. A central feature of salsa music is the rhythmic pattern known as clave. The clave is a uniquely African rhythm that finds expression across Latino groups with Afro-Caribbean heritage. In the African celebration one individual will play a constant rhythm (the clave) while the other musicians play in harmony, thus producing a polyrhythm (History of Salsa). The clave is played by hitting wooden sticks against each other. "The clave (rhythm) comes in two flavors: 2-3 and 3-2. The 2-3 clave has two beats in the first bar of the phrase, and three beats in the second bar: The 3-2 clave is the converse (Yeo)

Salsa also has a basic… [END OF PREVIEW]

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