Salsa > How do we identify Salsa music?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by squirrel, Nov 26, 2004.

  1. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Needs more cowbell!
  2. Jazz0

    Jazz0 New Member

  3. Jazz0

    Jazz0 New Member

    I don't think the aspect of Salsa having lyrics makes it Salsa more than the actual music. It's just that what they call "Latin Jazz" generally doesn't have lyrics.

    True but the type of Jazz that you get in Salsa and even Mambo is based on Big Band Swing.

    This a good example of what people refer to as Latin Jazz (not made for dancing)

    Afro Cuban Jazz Suite ( This would be Cuban Latin Jazz. Boss Nova would be the Brazilian form of Latin Jazz)


    Yes, the rhythmic foundation is based on that. The Jazz element in Salsa is the brass/sax section. All of the Brass work in Salsa is done in a "Swing" style.

    Here goes a simple explanation of what Salsa with a video/music

    What is Salsa? (


    True but I don't know how the dancer would distinguish between the two
  4. Awesome video. I put it on my blog.
  5. EvaDarling

    EvaDarling New Member

    I thought it's the rhythm. As long as you feel it, you shouldn't have to think about it. I don't know much about music theory but all the instruments combined in salsa gives it a distinctive feel. Sometimes I could tell by an intro what kind of song it will be even if the rhythm section hasn't started playing yet. So far, I can identify cha cha, bachata, merengue, cumbia, samba, etc., so I usually grab my partners quickly when I hear those songs.;) But then again, I listen to Latin music all the time so I would recommend all dancers do that. You won't have to think about it. You'll just know.
  6. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    It doesnt work that way.. education to the subtle differences in poly rhythms needs to be taught. Witness many who dance for yrs and still do not understand how to interpret Montuno, Cumbia and Guajira rhythms, plus mambo and clave sections, that are "built" into many salsa songs.

    Ive trained many teachers who do not as we say, " get it " .
  7. EvaDarling

    EvaDarling New Member

    I don't know how you can be an instructor or an advanced dancer and not be able to identify whether or not a song is salsa. I am no teacher and just a student but I think listening to Latin music should be a prerequisite or at least an accompaniment to dancing to Latin music. Practicing at home after class or at socials or at clubs should be a priority too. A lot of the people I know who have a problem identifying the music or finding the beat don't do any of this. They just show up to class one hour a week. I am not Latin but most of the Latin people I know and who dance well know the music they dance to. They don't analyze the music because they feel it. This is something I strive toward since I didn't grow up with Latin music and I think familiarizing myself with it until I can't get the rhythm out of my head is the way to achieve this. It helps though if you actually love the music which I do.
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    That is NOT what I said... i stated that most do not know the differences in the many poly rhythms ,so indentification is not always that simple .. beginners even struggle with WHICH beat to commence on!

    I know classical music when I "hear " it, but.. all the nuances that make up an orchestral piece are not within my grasp.

    Now apply that analogy to the majority of dancers.. dancing to music that they truly do not understand.. 1,2,3 or QQS is sufficient for most people.. but to say, JUST by listening it will solve their problems, is patently not so. You have to know WHAT to listen for.

    And yes, there are numerous " teachers ?" out there who do not understand the concepts .
  9. EvaDarling

    EvaDarling New Member

    Well, sorry for the misunderstanding and now you made yourself clear. However, analyzing the music without listening to it seems foolish to me. My first salsa class, I was taught about the clave. However, since then, I have not learned music theory but I can tell you that when I listen to music on my own, I listen for the clave and the tumbao. Sometimes though, they're not detectable. But even then you have the strong downbeats that tell you it's either the 1st or 5th beat of a measure, the 1st being the stronger one. And then you have the piano section almost laying out the beats for you. All this I know because I listen to the music and not because I took some musical theory class. I did a bit of research on the internet about this and it confirmed what I hear. The internet has a wealth of information on anything and everything if people are truly interested, instructors and advanced dancers included.

    When I'm dancing though, I'm not thinking about any of this because I have so many other things to concentrate on like following well, doing my turns, my styling etc. And I'm able to enjoy the dance because I'm not counting the beats in my head. Some of my partners do this and they don't look like they're enjoying themselves at all and neither am I. So I suppose learning to dance by counting and continuing to do so when you dance is good if you want to dance mechanically and technically. But I think dancing is to be enjoyed and when you stop counting and start feeling, that's when enjoyment of the dance begins. To each his own I guess!
  10. jabar11

    jabar11 New Member

    the clave is an exclusive rythm of salsa and the best way to distinguish it
  11. Joy In Motion

    Joy In Motion Active Member

    Since this thread has just been revived, years ago I came across a couple of resources that may be helpful for students and teachers looking to learn and/or explain how salsa music is put together. These aren't comprehensive by any means, but they're a good start.

    Flujo's Salsa Music & Timing Video

    Salsa Rhythm Introduction

    These are probably the most accessible, but there are a few others that I have listed on the Resources page of my website (under the Salsa & Social Latin Dance category). Thank you, jabar11, for bringing this thread back to the surface; it's been years since I've looked at these links and it was fun to go back through them. I'm always so thankful for those who take the time to put these resources together for free so that everyone can benefit.
  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Sorry mi amigo..Its not .
  13. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi jabar11, the problem is, there isn´t anything like THE clave. I know of 7 different claves that belong to 7 different styles of music out of 4 diffferent countries and thus include so different ways of dancing. And I fear there are a lot more claves I didn´t come across, yet. Also the other way round is wrong. I know so many typical salsa tracks that completely do without claves or clave rhythm.
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    True.. BUT.. is usually still there in the form of piano, and or, bass. It is (Clave ) after all,other than 2 items being struck, a rhythmical format that may be replicated on other instruments ( thats when people say "implied " ).Conga is often used to identify a stressed "4" enClave, as in Son, for e.g.
  15. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca Member

    Yes there is, the only variation is whether it's son or rumba clave.

    This doesn't make any sense. There are an infinite number of rhythms out there it's true, but to call them all claves is misunderstanding the terminology.

    Again, this is completely untrue. We all make mistakes, of course, so I hope you're not offended by my pointing out your errors. I'm nowhere near expert level, but this is all documented stuff.

    Clave (the rhythm) can be played on the clave and/or other instrument(s), and this is heard on a lot of salsa tunes, although not on the majority. In most salsa, clave is implied i.e. every instrument reflects the clave rhythm, even though none actually plays that rhythm. You might not be able to hear it, but it's the basis of the music.

    Clave is not exclusive to salsa, it's in all Afro Cuban music e.g. son, rumba, Latin jazz, etc etc.
  16. looyenyeo

    looyenyeo New Member


    I'm sorry, this thread is a bit long; did we have a definition of clave somewhere and I missed it?

  17. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Re: claves

    Hi looyenyeo,

    you should start with the material of S&MS such as

    -"The music"
    -"Ear training" (with audio files)

    For deeper studies you should switch to

    -"Clave analysis" by Tremendo Delirio or
    -"Clave change" by Kevin Moor (with audio files)

    There is also a preface of Kevin Moore´s book here

    -"Understanding Clave"

    These links relate to cuban claves only which are relevant for salsa dancing. But there are hundreds or more african clave rhythms which belong to other than salsa dances.
  18. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca Member

    I'm not being pedantic, but you're posting slightly misleading info here. There are hundreds or more African rhythms, which can be played on clave or any other percussion instrument. If you want to call them 'clave rhythms' then good for you, however the concept of playing 'en clave' is exclusive to Afro-Cuban music. In Africa they do not play en clave, although the actual clave rhythm certainly originated there.

    You appear to have presumed that any distinct rhythm is a clave, but a rhythm is a rhythm. 'Cuban clave' is tautological; there is just the clave (albeit in the form of son clave or rumba clave).

    This is not remotely debatable or contentious.
  19. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca Member

    It's the beat behind all salsa and other Afro-Cuban music (e.g. cha cha cha, rumba, latin jazz, etc etc). Usually it's implied i.e. the casual listener may be unaware of it, however every musician and singer in any and all Afro-Cuban music is 'en clave', i.e. always reflecting the 2 sides of the clave. This does not happen in any other form of music.

    Btw there's son clave and rumba clave, which are slightly different to each other. (To generalise: the former is used in salsa, mambo and Latin jazz, the latter in rumba and timba.)
  20. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

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