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Directory » General » Salsa


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Salsa music is a typical Cuban Caribbean genre that is popular across Latin America and among Latinos abroad that was brought to international fame by Puerto Rican and Cuban musicians.

Salsa incorporates multiple styles and variations; the term can be used to describe most any form of popular Cuban-derived genre, such as chachachá and Son. Most specifically, however, salsa refers to a particular style developed in the 1960s and '70s by Puerto Rican and Cuban immigrants to the New York City area, and stylistic descendants like 1980s salsa romantica. The style is now practiced throughout Latin America, and abroad.

 

Salsa means sauce in the Spanish language, and carries connotations of the spiciness common in Latin and Caribbean cuisine. More recently, salsa acquired a musical meaning in both English and Spanish. In this sense salsa has been described as a word with "vivid associations but no absolute definitions, a tag that encompasses a rainbow assortment of Latin rhythms and styles, taking on a different hue wherever you stand in the Spanish-speaking world". The precise scope of Salsa is highly debatable. Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants in New York have used the term analogously to swing or soul, which refer to a quality of emotionally and culturally genuine music in the African American community. In this usage Salsa connotes a frenzied, "hot" and wild musical experience that draws upon or reflects elements of Latin culture, regardless of the specific style.

Various music writers and historians have traced the use of Salsa to different periods of the 20th century. World music author Sue Steward has claimed that Salsa was originally used in music as a "cry of appreciation for a particularly piquant or flashy solo". She cites the first use in this manner to a Venezuelan radio DJ named Phidias Danilo Escalona; Max Salazar traced the word back to the early 1930s, when Ignacio Piñeiro composed "Échale Salsita", a dance song protesting tasteless food. Though Salazar describes this song as the origin of salsa meaning "danceable Latin music", Ed Morales has described the usage in the same song as a cry from Piñeiro to his band, telling them to increase the tempo to "put the dancers into high gear". Morales claims that later in the 1930s, vocalist Beny Moré would shout salsa during a performance "to acknowledge a musical moment's heat, to express a kind of cultural nationalist sloganeering [and to celebrate the] 'hotness' or 'spiciness' of Latin American cultures".[

Some people object to the term Salsa on the basis that it is vague or misleading; for example, the style of musicians such as Tito Puente evolved several decades before Salsa was a recognized genre, leading Puente to once claim that "the only salsa I know comes in a bottle. I play Cuban music". Because salsa can refer to numerous styles of music, some observers perceive the word as a marketing term designed to superficially categorize music in a way that appeals to non-aficionados. For a time the Cuban state media officially claimed that the term salsa music was a euphemism for authentic Cuban music stolen by American imperialists, though the media has since abandoned this theory.

 

Dancing Salsa

Since salsa has its roots in so many dances and is open to improvisation, salsa styles are very fluid. Dance styles are associated with their original geographic area that developed that style. There are often devotees of each of these styles outside of their home territory (except Cali style). Characteristics that may identify a style include: foot patterns, body rolls and movements, turns and figures, attitude, dance influences, and the way that partners hold each other. The point in a musical bar music where a slightly larger step is taken (the break step) and the direction the step moves can often be used to identify a style.

 

A Salsa Video

 

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