Latin music is a genre that refers to music where Spanish and Portuguese are spoken. Despite how simple this definition sounds, Latin music is quite complex. This is because it spans over many countries and is made up of various sub-genres and styles that give it a unique flavor in comparison to other forms of music.
Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Cuba, and Argentina are a few countries where Latin music is extremely popular. Before the pre-Columbian era, the indigenous population of the Americas had their own musical heritage. However, the Europeans and African slaves also brought their own beats, instruments, and musical styles to the region. The combination of all these elements gave birth to what is now known as Latin music. In short, the Spanish, Portuguese and Africans have had a hand in molding the music of the indigenous people and giving it the distinct flavor which gives this genre it’s distinct identity.
Today, Latin music is one of the most popular musical genres. This is because it has managed to gain worldwide appeal even among non-Latinos. In fact, major recording labels have separate divisions that cater to the music industry of Latin America as well as other parts of the world. Also, there is the Latin Grammy Awards as well as the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame which are exclusively for artists and performers who belong to this genre. This goes to show how Latin music has evolved to become a full-fledged genre in its own right.
Types of Latin Music
Because Latin music is not restricted to one place, there are different variations, styles and subgenres. The diversity of Latin music is what makes it so special. Every region has adopted their own unique version of this genre. Also, different artists add their own personal touch which further adds to the uniqueness. However, for the sake of this article. we have rounded up a few of the most popular subgenres in order to shed light on the different facets of Latin music. Let’s take a look at what makes Latin music so special.
Samba is a perfect example of African influence on Latin music. Apart from being a musical form, Samba is also a Brazilian dance form that is part of the identity of the country. Through music and dance, the Brazilians showcase their history, food, attire, and art. In short, Samba is not only a form of music but a part of the Brazilian lifestyle.
During the early days of Samba, only a few string and percussion instruments were used. After World War II, American music began to have an impact on Samba and other instruments such as trumpets, flutes and clarinets were incorporated.
Salsa is the combination of various music styles from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. This music is a fusion of Spanish strings, African percussion as well as American jazz. Apart from this, the conga drum is one of the most popular instruments that people identify salsa with. At times, salsa has been blended with other styles such as Rock, R&B as well as funk.
The early salsa musicians were predominately Puerto Rican who moved to New York in the 1970’s. As time went on, this music caught on to other parts of the world and thus became a global phenomenon.
Latin pop can refer to pop music that is influenced by Latin America or it could also be used to refer to pop music in Spanish-speaking countries. Latin pop is the most popular subgenre among the rest. Today, most people know Latin music through Latin pop. This music form began to gain widespread appeal in the United states during the 1980s-1990s. In fact, there were many non-Latino fans who religiously followed Latin pop artists back in those days.
Derived from Bolero (another form of Latin music with its own dance form). Latin ballad is also known as a romantic ballad. This is because the lyrics of the accompanying songs are predominantly about love. The first known Latin ballad was “Sonata of love” by Mario Alvarez in 1961.
During the 1970s, Latin Ballad reached its height of popularity. Many Latin Balladeers such as Roberto Carlos, Camilo Sesto, Rocio Durcal released hit tracks during this period. Over time, this music form picked elements from others to create a unique combination. Romantic salsa is one such example of a combination of ballad and salsa.
This form of Latin music combines various other genres such as alternative rock, metal, reggae etc. with Latin musical elements. During the 1960’s, many artists started to experiment with traditional rock music by incorporating instruments that were hitherto used to create Latin music only.
Soon, the influence of Latin music spread to other musical genres and the term “Latin alternative” was coined to refer to these forms of music.
As you can tell, Latin music is a broad subject. With the passage of time, this genre has evolved greatly and spread widely throughout the world.
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