During the colonial period in Latin America (16th-19th century) many Amerindian populations were decimated, and much traditional Amerindian musical culture was destroyed or syncretized with Iberian. Little evidence remains as to the real nature of music in the Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations apart from the testimony of 16th-century Spanish chroniclers and what can be seen of instruments--percussion and winds, with almost total absence of strings--depicted in hieroglyphs and pottery decorations. Modern Andean Indians still make extensive use of vertical flutes and panpipes, along with European instruments such as bass drums, harps, and guitars of different sizes. In Mesoamerica Indians now play harps, fiddles, and guitars based upon archaic Spanish models, or MARIMBAS of African origin, all of which have largely replaced indigenous instruments. Only in certain tropical areas (as the Amazon basin) are virtually unacculturated Amerindian musics found. Iberian Influences
relatively few Iberian genres have been retained in their original forms, Iberian origins of many song and dance forms are evident in the use of harps, fiddles, guitars, and many song types derived from Spanish verse structures such as the copla and decima. Such genres include the desafio of Brazil, cueca of Chile and Bolivia, joropo of Venezuela, sones and corrido of Mexico, seis of Puerto Rico, and punto of Cuba. They are usually danced in couples and often incorporate such features as shoe tapping and scarf waving. In addition to the above dances of Iberian derivation, pan-European ballroom dances such as the polka, mazurka, and waltz developed many regional variations. African Influences
The largest black populations are found in the circum-Caribbean region and Brazil. African musical features commonly retained include call and response singing, polyrhythms, extensive use of persistently repeated musical figures, and improvisation based on recurring short phrases. African instruments (primarily percussive) found in both unaltered and adapted forms, with many regional names and variations, include long drums, often in "family" sets of three (congas), iron gongs, internal or external rattles (maracas, shekere), "thumb piano" (marimbula), marimbas, and concussion sticks (claves). (Clave is also the name of an important syncopated rhythmic figure.) The "steel drum" (tuned metal barrel) associated with Trinidad's CALYPSO has no direct African equivalent but evolved from drum ensembles. CALYPSO (MUSIC)
A form of music and dance of the Caribbean, calypso had its primary development in Trinidad, where it is associated particularly with the pre-lenten carnival. Before the carnival begins musicians try out their songs nightly before audiences in Port of Spain. The most popular are used during the carnival. The words of calypso songs are witty and humorous and convey popular attitudes on social, political, or economic problems. Rhythms are provided most often by STEEL BAND percussion instruments, made from the tops of oil drums. As a type of ballroom dance, calypso resembles the rumba, and the music often is performed with conventional dance-band instruments. The most African forms are usually associated with African-derived religions, such as voodoo of Haiti and the Yoruba-oriented candomble of Brazil and santeria of Cuba. The secular samba (Brazil), RUMBA and conga (Cuba), bomba (Puerto Rico) and other forms are also stylistically African. RUMBA
Rumba is a type of medium-to-fast polyrhythmic Afro-Cuban song and dance, with a three-part form of introduction, improvised verses, and repetitive call-and-response. It is typically accompanied by 2 to 3 conga drums and sticks. This structure has been adapted for Cuban popular music ensembles. Rhumba is an American term for various Cuban song and dance genres--for example, the son or BOLERO, which are not actually rumbas but were popular dance music styles in the United States during the 1930s and '40s. More acculturated genres have become national folk/popular musics; generally combining European melodic/harmonic instruments with African percussion, they include the MERENGUE (variants in Dominican Republic and Haiti), plena of Puerto Rico, the cumbia of Colombia/Panama (popular in Central America, Mexico, and the U.S. Southwest), and guaracha and son of Cuba. MERENGUE
Merengue is a very popular vocal and dance style from the Dominican Republic. It developed in the early 19th century and is related to the meringue of Haiti. The merengue rhythm is a moderate to extremely fast duple meter, and is danced with a simple sideways couple two-step. It is found in both folk music, using accordion, double-headed tambora drum, and metal guayo scraper, and in various popular orchestral formats. Important performers and bandleaders include Angel Viloria, Johnny Ventura, and Juan Luis Guerra.