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Salsa: The Music


Dance has little meaning without music so we delve deeper into the term "Salsa" and the music attributed to it.

Salsa means 'sauce' in the Spanish language, and is often associated with spiciness in Latin and Caribbean food. In the 20th century, salsa acquired a musical meaning in both English and Spanish and has been described as a word with "vivid associations". Salsa implies a frenzied, "hot" and wild musical experience that draws upon or reflects elements of Latin culture.
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, Mambo and Son Montuno.
Salsa incorporates multiple styles and variations. Most specifically, however, it refers to a particular style developed in the 60s and '70s by Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants to the New York City. The style is now practiced all over the world, with regional variations. The terms Latin jazz and salsa are sometimes used interchangeably; many musicians are considered a part of either (like Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto among others), or both, fields, especially from the 1970s.
With heavy use of percussion, including clave, maracas, conga, bongo, tambora and cowbell to name a few, salsa instruments and singers often mimic the call and response patterns of traditional African songs, before segueing into the chorus. Other salsa instruments include vibraphone, marimba, bass, guitar, violin, piano, accordion, flute and a brass section of trombone, trumpet and saxophone. More recently, electronics have been added to the mix.
Salsa has a basic 1-2-3, 1-2 rhythm; however, to say that salsa is just one rhythm, or one set of instruments is deceiving. It is more a way of playing the Latin sound to an urban audience to get them onto the dance floor and into the clubs. The tempo is fast and the musical energy is vibrant.