Latin American Dance Music

Topics: Jazz, Ballroom dance, Dance music Pages: 6 (2081 words) Published: February 4, 2011
Latin America thrives on its culture. Its dance and music is known to be very sexy and promiscuous, and is recognizable by anyone familiar with dance. Latin American music has had a large influence on the form the dances have today. It was the mariachi bands of Mexico that stirred up the quick paced rhythms and playful movements at the same time that Cuba was embracing similar musical and dance styles. Traditional dance was blended with new, modern ways of moving, and became a whole new dance rage. The dances from those days evolved and were influenced by modern music as the sexy style and hip gestures became more accepted. The style of Latin American dance music is very risqué. Latin American music comprises the musical styles found in Latin American countries and the Caribbean. Four unique Latin American sounds are known as nueva cancion, salsa, Tejano music and reggae ton. Salsa and the more popular Latin dances were created and embraced into the culture in the early and middle 1900s. The diversity is so great that the only universal feature is the use of Latin-derived language in the songs. The dances for the most part are done with a partner as a social dance, but there is never a reason not to dance by oneself. The music is so inviting one would be hard pressed to hear a Latin beat and not see everyone feeling the rhythm. Many of the dances are done in a close embrace while others are more traditional to ballroom dancing and hold a stronger frame.   Today, the world is very accepting of these dances. You can find Latino night in most dance clubs. Ballroom studios teach lessons on many Latin American dances. One can even find the cha-cha being done in honky-tonk country bars for instance; Miami has been a large contributor of the United States involvement in Latin dancing. With such a huge Puerto Rican and Cuban population one can find Latin dancing and music in the streets at any time of day or night. The dances of Latin America are derived from and named for the type of music they are danced to. For example, Rumba, Merengue, Samba, Flamenco, Mambo, Salsa, Cha-cha cha, Bachata, and, probably most recognizable, the Tango are among the most popular.

Many dance music styles have evolved from the original Latin American dance music. It roots are found in Cuba where the rhythmic drums of Africa met the Spanish guitar. Latin America has produced a variety of genres born at the crossroads of European folk music, African music and native traditions. Since we know that both African music and Spanish guitar music are part of the origins of Latin American dance music, it is important to understand how each of these music styles influenced Latin American dance music. African Music and Rhythms

Most of the African people used drums in their worship.  In these ancient times, certain rhythms were created to call upon certain god spirits.  There were over two hundred different rhythms that created for worship.  As the years passed on, the slaves were often forced to become Christian, so they would continue to use drums in worship, calling their gods Christian names so as to avoid being punished.  Today, there are secret societies in the Cuban region that are keeping the ancients rhythms alive.      Spanish Guitar Music

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Spanish music was defined by the Spanish guitar.  By the end of the 19th century, the flamenco style of playing and dancing was born.  Flamenco is a dance where rhythms are tapped out with the shoes and castanets (percussion instrument (idiophone), used in Moorish, Ottoman, ancient Roman, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American music) in the hands while the guitar offers accompaniment. A man or a woman may dance the flamenco, and often the rhythms are improvised. Other elements of Spanish and European music also made its way into Latin American dance music, as did some American musical styles,...
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