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Salsa terms - our dictionary of Salsa

Here you'll find explanations of some Salsa terms


Bachata

Rhythm and dance from the Dominican Republic. It arises from the Bolero. The word Bachata means something like courtyard or courtyard party, because they played this music at the parties in the courtyards only with a guitar and a singer. Bachata was seen as music from the lower class of population. This music became more popular and was played also in the clubs in the late eighties and early nineties. Bachata was spread all over the country because of a cult radio station in the Dominican Republic: without radio Guarachita the Bachata would never came out of the underdog-status. The singer Juan Luis Guerra take a huge part at the international triumphal success of Bachata through his album &qout;Bachata Rosa". For more information »t; here

Bolero

It's a slow, poetic ballad. On almost every LP of the label Fania you can find always one or two Boleros

Bomba

In connection with the music: rhythm and dance from Puerto Rico. Salsa (for example Willie Colon) has sometimes parts of Bomba and Plena. More informations »t; here
The phrase Bomba also exists in Salsa lyrics in connection with women ? for example "Esa mujer es una bomba" (Oscar D?Leon). But that has nothing to do with Puerto Rico ?

Bongos

Salsa instrument: 2 small connected drums which are held between the knees and are played with the palms. The Campanero (musician, which is playing the Campana) is often also responsible for the Bongos.

Boogaloo

A mixture of Soul and Latin rhythms. One of the predecessors of Salsa. For more information »t; here

Campana

Rhythm instrument in Salsa: the cowbell. The rhythm is more complex than intended while hearing it at first. Characteristic is the accentuated 1. Beginners are often advised to orientate oneself to this cowbell so that they can hear and feel the 1.

Cha Cha Cha

Music style and dance ? deflected from the early Mambo-Danzon. The name Cha Cha Cha comes from the founder of this style ? Enrique Jorrín. He named the dance after the sound of dancing feet. For more information »t; here

Changüi

Music style ? predecessor the the Son

Changó

Changó is the Orisha (godhood) of the fever, the drums and the manhood. In the traditional Rumba and also in the Cuban Salsa they often sing about Changó - also in connection with Ochún. More information »t; here

Charanga

Certain instrumentation of an orchestra and also a music style (but not a dance style). Characteristic are 2 ore more violins, a flute and most a chorus. For more information »t; here

Clave

Most importan rhythm in Salsa. It consists of 5 beats. There is a big discussion about the adjustment of the 5 beats (amongst others 3-2 Clave or 2-3 Clave) ? For more information »t; here. The Clave rhythm is mostly played with the Claves. In recent times it is also played by the Timbalero (Timbales player) by beating with sticks on the plastic-jam-block or at the side of the drum.

(las) Claves

Instrument, which is used to beat the Clave-rhythm. Generally there are two small round lumbers.

Conga

The most important drum instrument in Salsa ? sometimes it is called also Tumbadora. There will be played the Tumbao rhythm pattern with the Congas. Another pattern is the Caballo.

Cuatro

Guitar?instrument from Puerto Rico

Cumbia

Folk dance and music from Columbia with afro-carribean influences. The Cumbia developed further since its occurrence (probably in the Independence Wars around 1820) and is doubtless still one of the the most popular rhythms in Columbia (besides Vallenato). Many Salsa songs shows Cumbia-rhythms. The most popular Salsa-song with elements of Cumbia is "La Vida Es Un Carnival" from Celia Cruz. For more information »t; here

Danzón

Music style and dance. It developed in the 19th century. The Nuevo Ritmo ? a new inserted section of a Danzón - was later called Mambo . The Mambo became later a own style of music and dance.

Descarga

Mostly an absolute intrumental part of a song or a whole song with improvisation. It contains a lot of solos and ist often very jazzy.

Fania

Name of a record label. It was founded in 1964 by Jerry Massuci and Johnny Pacheco. It was significant involved in the establishment of the name "Salsa" for a new kind of latin music. We have to thank the Fania label for many Salsa-classics. Big music legends were born here. Even the messenger boy of the label ? Ruben Blades from Panama ? arised to a Salsa superstar. For more information »t; here

Guaguancó

One of the 3 styles of the Cuban Rumba. The sing often in the Salsa about the Rumba and the Guaguanco. This is a tribut to the original form of the Afrocuban music.

Guajira

Form of a song ? amongst others deflected from the Son Cubano

Güira

A concave rhythm instrument built made of metal (like Güiro). The Güira (cucumber) is played with a metal comb on the riffled surface ? top down and/or reverse. It creates a specific noice. It comes from the Dominican Republic will be fitted in Merengue and Bachata.

Güiro

The Güiro: also a concave rhythm instrument. Only the cheeper ones are made of lumber. The real are made of a dried and concave Kalebasse, in which are cutted rills before drying. You can play it with a stick. It comes from Cuba and is fitted in many rhythms: Son, Danzon, Cha Cha Cha, Timba and so on. In the meantime there are also Gürio made of plastic.

L.A. Style

A new dance style of Salsa. It is the New York Style on 1 with fall figures and other acrobatic figures together with a very fast music. It is often performed in Shows. You can rareley see it in Clubs, because there is too less place for the acrobatic figures. For more information »t; here

Mambo

The Mambo is a complex rhythmic music style and dance. The Mambo is danced syncopated. That means on the first slap of every beat you don?t make any step. The 2 and 4 slap of evey beat are accentuated in the music. You dance on the 2. The Mambo arises in the thirties in Cuba and was later mixed with jazz elements especially in New York. The most important representatives of the Mambo are: Pérez Prado, Machito, Tito Rodriguez and of course Tito Puente. The Creole shaped name Mambo stands for "dialogue with the gods". Musicians see in Mambo the last part of Salsa ? played only with instruments (mostly the wind section). More information »t; here

Maracas

Rhythm instrument. The "rattlings". They are played by pairs. Rhythmusinstrument. Die Rasseln". Werden immer paarweise gespielt.

Merengue

Rhythm and dance from the Dominican Republic in a 2/4 Beat. It is a simple rhythm. Every beat slap is accentuated evenly in the dance. It arises already in the thirties. The music was significant advanced by the dictator Rafael Trujilo (1891 - 1961) to found a national identity. The original Merengue was was played with Conga, Guiro and Accordion (still in the north at Cibao valley: "Merenge Tipico" or "Perico Ripiao"). In the seventies/eighties there came also wind section, bass and piano. The lyrics are mostly funny lovesongs. The heart of the Dominican Republic beats in the Merengue pulse. For more information »t; here

Montuno

Syncopated and repetitive piano section. Montuno has 2 meanings. It's also used for the instrumental part of a Salsa song. The change to Montuno is also marked sometimes through the change of the Bongos to the Campana. Also the chorus and the bras section came along. The tempo also often moves upward.

New York Style

Dance style of Salsa. It's danced on the line, in the original New York style always on 2. But also on 1. Then it is called also Cross Body Style ? named from the most important figur "Cross Body Lead". For more information »t; here

Ochún

Ochún is the Orisha (godhood) of love, femaleness and inhabitant of the rivers. She loves sensual delights and all varieties of love. In the Rumba they often sing about Ochún (together with Changó), but also in Cuban Salsa. For more information »t; here

Orishas

Orishas are godhoods of the Cuban Santería (religion with African roots). For more information »t; here

Pachanga

Rhythm style from the fifties. It was often played with in a Charanga formation of the band.

Plena

Rhythm and dance from Puerto Rico. Salsa often has elements of Bomba and Plena. More information »t; here

Reggaeton

Mixed music from from Hip Hop, Ragga Reggae, Merengue and Salsa. Mostly with simple lyrics. The rhythm itself is also simple ? a constant bassdrum and a rhythm computer are absolute enough. Predominantly with Spanish vocals. It is very popular at the moment.

Rueda De Casino

Several dancing couples are forming a circle (Rueda: wheel) and are dancing synchronical by commands of a Cantante (singer). The most popular commands are surely "Dile que no", "Dame" and "Enchufla". In the fifties arises this style in the so called "Casinos Deportivos" of Cuba. Therefore they call it "Rueda De Casino". Today they dance Rueda de Casino at Timba music.

Rumba

This original Cuban music style is only with drums and voices (mostly in the form: answer ? question). Rumba has African but also Spanish roots. There are three secondary forms of Rumba: Yambú, Guaguancó and Columbia. This has nothing to do with the Rumba of standard latin dancers.

Salsa

Music and dance style in 4/4 beat. The basic instruments are Conga and Claves. About Salsa you could write a lot of pages. And yes, we did this ? please have look »t; here

Salsa Dura

The ?hard? Salsa. They do not mean the soft rhythm like Salsa Romantica. It is the original form of Salsa. It arises in the seventies. The lyrics are mostly of an upper niveau (for example: mi rumba es candela). Salsa Dura was a little bit lost in the eighties and nineties, but now it is back again.

Salsa Brava

Another word for the original Salsa of the seventies like it arises in the Fania label.

Salsa Romantica

Belongs to the history of Salsa. It is a soft, commercial rhythm of Salsa with slushy lyrics about love. It's also called Salsa Erotica. It arises in the eighties and had its best times in the nineties. Tony Moreno (known as producer and owner of the label MP) had the idea of rearranging old Boleros and Ballads into Salsa songs. Many Salseros sniff their noses at this music ? but wrongly. What they didn?t see is that many people suddenly were interested in this music and dance because of the simple structured and very popular Salsa Romantica. They maybe never encountered the real Salsa. In a way the Salsa Romantica was the "starter drug".

Son

MMusic style ? arises in the last half of the 19th century in eastern provinces of Cuba (Oriente) by the fusion of afrocuban drum rhythms and guitar music of the spanish farmers. It is the most important forerunner of Salsa. They also call it Son Cubano. El Son Es La Esencia De La Salsa ? sayd Issac Delgado once. For more information »t; here

Syncope

Important musical concept in Salsa and Mambo. A syncopes is a rhythmic movement of the beat focus. You accent a slap within a beat which you usually don?t accentuate (for example in 4/4 beat the second slap instead of the first).

Dancing (on "1" or "2")

Dancing On 1 means that at the first slap of a beat you change the direction of your foot. This mostly danced in Europe and South America. The change of the direction at 2 is typical for the Mambo. For more information »t; here

Tempo

Only fast Salsa is good Salsa? Our opinion: NO. The speed of a song has nothing to do with the quality and power of Salsa. As the most Salsa dancers are not high performance athletes they dance in a tempo of 90 to 100 BPM ? a tempo in which you can dance all night long.

Timba

Current Cuban form of Salsa: Arises at the beginning of the nineties. Compared to the usual Salsa here were have also really western drums (Bateria) to boost the rhythm section. Thereby the hard rhythms of the Timba to show the advantages. Typical are also Rap parts and Reggaeton. The came out of Timba was sureley a backlash to the harmless and soft Salsa Romanticas.

Timbales

The drum section of Salsa. Two drums at one holder and with it a lot of other rhythm instruments like Campana, Jam-Blocks or Cymbal. The Timbales is beaten by two sticks. It's a simple instrument, but good Timbaleros raise real rhythm storms with it.

Tres

Guitar from Cuba. Typically used in Son Cubano.

Tumbadora

Cuban version of an African drum. Also Congas are called sometimes.

Tumbao

Name for Bass or Conga-pattern. A pattern is a circulating rhythm part.

Vallenato

Vallenato comes fom "valle" and "nato" with the meaning: born in the valley. It refers to the music. One side says it is the valley between Pico Cristobal Colon and the Serrenia De Perija in the northeast of Columbia. The other side says it's the valley "Valle de Upar". Whatever ? it is a very popular columbian dance and rhythm with afro-carribbean and European (Accordion) influences. For more information »t; here

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