Latin music: Wikis


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Latin American Music is the music of all countries in Latin America (and the Caribbean) and comes in many varieties. Latin America is home to musical styles such as the simple, rural conjunto music of northern Mexico, the sophisticated habanera of Cuba, the rhythmic sounds of the Puerto Rican plena, the symphonies of Heitor Villa-Lobos, and the simple and moving Andean flute. Music has played an important part recently in Latin America's politics, the nueva canción movement being a prime example. Latin music is very diverse, with the only truly unifying thread being the use of Latin-derived languages, predominantly the Spanish language, the Portuguese language in Brazil, and to a lesser extent, Latin-derived creole languages, such as those found in Haiti.




The arrival of the Spanish and their music heralded the beginning of Latin American music. At the time, parts of Spain were controlled by the Moors of North Africa, who tolerated many ethnic groups. These people, like the Roma, Jews and Spanish Christians, each had their own styles of music, as did the Moors, that contributed to the early evolution of Latin music. Many Moorish instruments were adopted in Spain, for example, the North African nasal, high-pitched singing style and frequent use of improvisation also spread to all the peoples of Iberia, as did the Roma vocal trill that characterizes Romani music. From continental Europe, Spain adopted the French troubadour tradition, which by the 16th century was a major part of Spanish culture. Both ethnic Spaniards and Moors contributed to the troubadour tradition, which spawned the décima song form, which features ten lines of eight syllables each. The décima format remains an important part of Latin music, appearing in corridos, bolero, and vallenato.

Some modern peoples of Latin America are essentially purely African, and their music reflects their isolation from European influence. However, in general, the African slaves brought to the Americas modified their musical traditions by either adapting African performance style with European songs or vice versa, or simply learning both European song and performance style.

Popular music styles by country



The tango is perhaps Argentina's most famous music, becoming famous all around the world. Others include the Chacarera, Cueca, Zamba and Chamamé. More modern rhythms include El Cuarteto, and Argentine Cumbia. Argentine rock was most popular during the 60s, and still remains Argentina's most popular music. Rock en Español became first popular in Argentina, then it swept through other Latin American countries. That movement is called the "Argentine Wave."


The music of Belize has a mix of Kriol, Mestizo, Garifuna, and Maya influences. After many centuries of Maya habitation, Spanish and then British colonizers arrived in the area, the latter keeping Belize as its only colony in Spanish-dominated Central America. Far more influential than either European power's arrival, however, was the importation of African slaves. Europeans brought polkas, waltzes, schottisches and quadrilles, while Africans brought numerous instruments and percussion-based musics, including marimba. African culture resulted in the creation of brukdown music in interior logging camps, played using banjo, guitar, drums, dingaling bell, accordion and an ass's jawbone played by running a stick up and down the teeth. Among the most popular styles created by Kriol musicians is brukdown. Brukdown evolved out of the music and dance of loggers, especially a form called buru. Punta and Punta rock jazz hiphop are the most popular dance in Garifuna culture. It is performed around holidays and at parties, and other social events. Punta lyrics are usually composed by the women. Chumba and hunguhungu are a circular dance in a three beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta.


Bolivian music is perhaps the most strongly linked to its native population amongst national styles of South America. Following the nationalistic period of the '50s, Aymara and Quechua culture became more widely accepted, and these styles of folk music gradually fused in a more pop-like sound. Los Kjarkas played a pivotal role in this fusion. Other forms of native music, such as huayños and caporales are also widely played. cumbia is another music enjoyed today. Theres regional forms less known internationally such as the music from Santa Cruz and Tarija where music such as Cueca and Chacarera is popular.


Brazil is a large and diverse country with a long history of popular musical development, ranging from the early 20th century innovation of samba to the modern Música Popular Brasileira. Bossa nova is internationally well-known. and Forró (pronounced [foˈhɔ]) are also well known and loved in Brazil.


Among the newer musical movements in Chile the most important is perhaps the Nueva Canción that originated in the 1960s and 1970s and spread then after the 1973 Chilean coup d'etat when most musicians where either arrested, killed or exiled. In hearland of Chile, Central Chile, several styles can be found: the Cueca (the national dance), the Tonada, Refalosa, the Sajuriana, Zapateado, Cuando and Vals. In the Norte Grande region traditional music bears high resemblance with the music of Southern Perú and Western Bolivia, and it is called normally "Andean music". This music, which reflects the spirit of the indigenous people of the Altiplano, was one of the inspirations of the Nueva canción. In Chiloé Archipelago has folk music styles by its own due to its isolation far from the cultured centres of Santiago or Lima. Music from the Chilean Polynesia, Rapa Nui music, is deived from polynesian languages rather than from the colonial society or european influences.


Cuba has produced many of the world's most famous musical genres, and a number of renowned musicians in a variety of styles. Creolized styles range from the danzón to the rumba.


Colombian music can be divided into four musical zones: The Atlantic coast, the Pacific coast, the Andean region and Los Llanos.

The Caribbean (Atlantic) music vibrates with hot rhythms, such as the cumbia, porros and mapalé.

The music from the Pacific coast, such as the currulao, with a strong use of drums, is tinged with Spanish influence.

Music of the Colombian Andes has been strongly influenced by Spanish rhythms and instruments, and differs noticeably from the Indian music of Peru or Bolivia. Among the typical forms are the bambuco, pasillo guabina and torbellino, played with string instruments like tiple guitarra, and also with piano.

The music of Los Llanos, "música llanera", is usually accompanied by a harp, cuatro (a sort of four-string guitar) and maracas. It has much in common with the music of the Venezuelan Llanos.

Apart from these traditional forms, two newer musical styles have conquered large parts of the country. These are "la salsa" which has spread throughout the Pacific coast, and the "vallenato", which emanated from La Guajira and César (northern part of the Caribbean coast). The latter is based on the European accordion.

Amongst all the mentioned above, throughout the nation Salsa, and merengue can be heard as well. More recently the development of music styles such as reggaeton and bachata have also had a great impact within the nation.

Dominican Republic

Merengue típico and Orchestra merengue has been popular in the Dominican Republic for many decades, and is widely regarded as the national music.

Bachata is a more recent arrival taking influences from the Bolero and derived from the country's rural guitar music. Bachata has evolved and risen in popularity over the last 40 years in the Dominican Republic and other countries such as Puerto Rico, with the help of artists such as Antony Santos, Luis Segura, Luis Vargas, Teodoro Reyes, Yoskar Sarante, Alex Bueno, and Aventura. Bachata, Merengue and Salsa are now equally popular among Spanish speaking Caribbean people. When Spanish Crusaders sailed over the Atlantic they brought with them a new type of music called Hesparo, which contributed to the development of Dominican music.


Ecuadorian music can be classified in mestizo, Indian and black musics. Mestizo music comes out of the interrelation between Spanish and Indian music. In it there are rhythms such as pasacalles, pasillos, albazos and sanjuanitos and is usually characterized by the use of string instruments. There is also regional variations such as more Coastal styles such as vals (similar to Vals Peruano (Waltz)) and montubio music. Indian music in Ecuador is determined in varying degrees by the influence of inca quechua culture. Within it we find sanjuanitos (different from the meztizo sanjuanito), capishkas, danzantes and yaravis. Non-quechua indigenous music ranges from Tsáchila music of Santo Domingo which is influenced by the neighboring afro marimba; or Amazonian music of groups such as the Shuar.

Black Ecuadorian music can be classified in two main forms. The first type is black music from the coastal Esmeraldas province and is characterized by the use of the marimba. The second variety is black music from the Chota Valley in the northern Sierra, mainly known as Bomba del Chota, and is characterized by a more pronounced mestizo and Indian influence than marimba esmeraldeña. Most of these musical styles can also be played by windbands of varying sizes in popular festivals all around the country.

El Salvador

Salvadorian music can be compare to the Colombian style of music call Cumbia but different style which is more well know outside El Salvador Popular styles in moder El Salvador besides Cumbia are Salsa,Cumbia, Bachata, Reggaeton. "Political chaos tore the country apart in the early 20th century, and music was often suppressed, especially those with strong native influences. In the 1940s, for example, it was decreed that a dance called "Xuc" was to be the "national dance" which was created and led by Paquito Palaviccini's and his "ORQUESTA INTERNACIONAL POLIO." In the last ten years Reggaeton and Hip hop have many popularity and Salvadorian youths form groups such as Pescozada and Mecate. Salvadorian music have many styles such as Mayan music on the border of El Salvador and Guatemala which is known as Chalatenango. Another style of music not originally from El Salvador could be known as Punta a Belizean and Honduran much more style.


Rich blend of African and European sounds; along with Cuban and Dominican influences, come together to create Haiti's diverse music. The most notable styles are Kompa and Méringue.


The music of Honduras is very varied, from Punta, the local genre of the Garifunas, to Caribbean music like salsa, merengue, reggae, and reggaeton all widely heard especially in the North, to Mexican rancheras heard in the interior, rural part of the country. The country's ancient capital of Comayagua is an important center for modern Honduran music, and is home to the College for Fine Arts.


Mexico is perhaps one of the most diverse countries in the world, when it comes to music. Each of the 31 states has their own unique styles. Some of them are:

Son Jarocho, Mexican pop, Mariachis, Rancheras, Boleros, Another popular style called Norteña originates in the Northeast part of the country. There also exist Mexican versions of many other types of music, including rock, Duranguense, Rancheras, cumbia, Danzon, Cha Cha Cha, etc.


The most popular style of music in Central AmericaNicaragua is Palo de Mayo which is a dance and genre of music, as well as a festival in which the dance and music originated. Other popular music includes marimba, punta, Garifuna music, son nica, and folk music.


The popular style of music in Panama is reggaeton. Reggaeton is a style of music that originated here in 1977 and continues to the present, even though it has strong Puerto Rican influences such as the island's bomba and plena. Salsa, bachata, and merengue can be heard as well throughout the nation. Other Hispanic and Latino styles can be heard as well as Caribbean and West Indian music.


Polka Paraguaya, which adopted the name from a European beat, is the most typical type of music and has relatively different versions including the Galopa, the Krye’ÿ and the Canción Paraguaya, or Paraguayan Song. The first two are faster and more upbeat than the standard polka, and the third, a slight bit slower and melancholic. Other popular styles include the Purahéi Jahe’o and the Compuesto, which generally tell sad, epic or love stories.

The polka usually is based on poetic lyrics, but there are some emblematic pieces of Paraguayan music that exist, such as Pájaro Campana, or Songbird, by Félix Pérez Cardozo. Guarania is the second best known Paraguayan music style and was created by the great musician José Asunción Flores in 1925. Paraguayan music depends largely upon two instruments: the guitar and the harp, whose first copies were brought by the conquistadors and found their own style in the country.


Peruvian music is marked by Indian, Spanish and West African influences. Coastal Afro-Peruvian music is characterized by the use of the Cajón peruano. Amerindian music varies according to region and ethnicity. The most well known Amerindian style is the huayño, also popular in Bolivia, played on instruments such as the charango and guitar. Mestizo music is varied and within it we find as most popular valses and marinera from the northern coast.

Puerto Rico

Out of all of Puerto Rico's musical exports, it is known for its version of salsa music as well as reggaeton. Bomba and plena have been popular in Puerto Rico for a long time, while reggaetón is a relatively recent invention. Reggaeton is a form of urban contemporary music, which often combine other Latin musical styles together, most commonly salsa and bachata.


Llanera is Venezuelan popular music originated in the "llanos" plains, although you will find the more upbeat and festive Gaita beat in the western area, specifically in the state of Zulia. There is also African influenced styles which emphasize drumming and dance and such diverse styles as music from the Guayana region influenced by the neighboring English speaking countries as well as andean music from Merida.


Popular styles

Nueva canción

Nueva canción is a Latin American music genre which emphasize social progressive themes and social commentary along with influences of the trovadour tradition and singer-songwriter confessionalism. It can range from more folk styles such as groups like Inti Illimani from Chile to individual Nueva trova acts such as Silvio Rodriguez from Cuba.


Based on Cuban music (especially Cuban son and son montuno) in rhythm, tempo, baseline, riffs and instrumentation, Salsa represents an amalgamation of musical styles, including rock, jazz, and other Latin American musical traditions including Puerto Rico. Modern salsa as it became known worldwide was forged in the pan-Latin melting pot of New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Tejano music

Tejano music can be categorized as a blend of country music, rock, and R&B born in Texas and performed in both Spanish and English with a variety of cultural influences.

Most Tejanos today reside in South Texas and have their own unique form of folk and popular music, greatly influenced by yet quite distinctive from both traditional genres of Mexican music and mainstream genres of American music. Latina Superstar Selena brought Tejano music to the mainstream and is credited frequently for bringing it to the top.


Reggaeton has become an Latin American phenomenon and is no longer classifiable merely as a Panamanian or even Puerto Rican genre. It blends Jamaican musical influences of reggae and dancehall with those of Latin America, such as the Puerto Rican bomba and plena, as well as that of American hip hop and rap. The music is also combined with rapping (generally) in Spanish.

Imported styles

Imported styles of popular music with a distinctively Latin style include Latin jazz, Argentine rock and Chilean rock, and Cuban and Mexican hip hop, all based on styles from the United States (jazz, rock and roll and hip hop). Music from non-Latin parts of the Caribbean are also popular, especially Jamaican reggae and dub, Trinidadian calypso music and Antiguan Soca. See also Spanish Tinge. Flamenco, rumba and pasodoble from Spain is popular in some segments due to the Spanish heritage of Latin-America.

See also


  • Morales, Ed (2003). The Latin Beat. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81018-2. 
  • Nettl, Bruno (1965). Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents. Prentice-Hall, Inc. ISBN 0-13-323247-6. 
  • Stevenson, Robert (1952). Music in Mexico. Thomas Y. Crowell Company. ISBN 1-199-75738-1. , cited in Nettl, p. 163.

External links

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