What is Latin Music? 


Deriving from a region of the World that is complicated ethnographically, is itself complicated by the mixture of influences from the enforced mixture of races, religions and patterns of cultural development from pre-Columbian times to the present.

The music of Argentina is known mostly for the tango, which developed in Buenos Aires and surrounding areas, as well as Montevideo, Uruguay. Folk, pop and clasocal music are also popular, and Argentine artists like Merceded Sosa and Atahualpa Yupanqui contributed greatly to the development of nueva cancion. Argenitine rock has also led to a defiant rock scene in Argentina.

Latin music is a popular art form developed in various Latin American countries, mainly Cuba, and is unique for the type of rhythmic structures it builds upon.  It is vocal and instrumental music, originally derived from African religious ceremonies, however viewed today primarily as dance music.  Its strongest characteristic, however, is its rhythm, which is highly syncopated  (when the various rhythms being played at one time, create counterpoint against each other in exciting cross rhythms).  It is traditionally played by native percussion and string instruments, namely the timbales, congas, bongo, guitar, and the tres (nine-string Cuban guitar).  Over time, the piano replaced the guitar as the choral instrument, while the bass, woodwinds, trumpets and trombones were added to play melodies and riffs (repetitions of sound).  Most Latin music is based on a rhythmic pattern known as the clave.  Clave is the basic building block of all Cuban music, and is a 3-2 (occasionally 2-3) rhythmic pattern.  Claves are also the name for the two sticks that play this 3-2 (clave) pattern.     

Latin music generally uses a three form with (1) a long introductory verse, followed (2) by a montuno section where the band plays a vamp (a two- or three chord progression), building intensity with devices like the mambo (where members of the front line play contrasting riffs) before (3) returning back to the verse and closing out the selection, generally with some type of coda (a short predetermined way of ending a piece; like a postscript at the end of letters).  Some important characteristics of Latin music are:

 Clave: a syncopated rhythmic pattern played with two sticks, around which everything in the band revolves.

 Call And Response Inspiraciones: a musical exchange between two voices inspiratons, improvised phrase by     lead vocalist or instrumentalist.

Bajo-Tumbao-bass: repeated rhythmic pattern for the bass or conga based on the clave.

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