History of Latin Music Latin music has exceptional rhythm and character, with a rich mixture of vocal and instrumental leads. What we know as Latin music is the outcome of a complex historical and social process that came out after Columbus set foot in the Americas many years ago. Despite much of the turbulent history that followed, one of the positive results that came about from the process is the Latin music of today. The social environment and cultural mix brought about one of the best genres of music world wide.
The history of Latin music starts with the influence from indigenous music such as from the Mayas who had a great interest in music and produced all kind of wind and percussion instruments. Many of the Pre-Columbine cultures used wind instruments, with all types of flutes made throughout the continent. Much of this original musical expression can be seen today in some of the more traditional Latin music such as the Andean music of South America.
Then with the arrival of Columbus and the Europeans, the Spanish and Portuguese languages were brought to the new world, the languages which define much of the Latin music. And while Latin music is usually associated with countries like Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Argentina, the rhythms have come and been passed down through the ages. Its history starts not only with the Caribbean culture, but even before that, from the slaves that came from Africa bringing with them the beats that were a major source of inspiration for the music that followed in the Americas.
The encounter of the cultures above mentioned, Pre-Columbine, European and African, created the vibrant social environment that has produced Latin music. While there are many types of Latin music, we will list a few of the most well known ones and a bit of their history and where they came from.
Salsa: This is a word that brings instant reaction and inspires Latin music lovers worldwide. There is much debate as to where Salsa originated. Some claim it to be a newer version of older forms of Afro-Cuban rhythms coming from Cuba. Others point out that between the years of 1930 and 1960 musicians from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba and South America flocked to New York, each bringing their native rhythms and as they played the influences came together to become the Salsa of today.
Samba: The most typical music of Brazil, and gets its original rhythm from “candomble” or the prayer music of Afro-Brazilian religious practices. The word “samba” means “to pray”.
Bossa Nova: This is probably the most well known of all Brazilian music. Bossa Nova derived from the samba and actually means the “new way”.
And then of course there is Merengue, Reggeaton, Tango, Cueca, Bolero, Danzon, Rumba, Cumbia and Mambo among the long list of types and variations of Latin music.
Internationally though, one of the most well known today would be Latin Pop which represents a large part of the Latin music enjoyed worldwide. Some of the most popular and well known Latin Pop artists are those such as Alejandro Sanz, Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, Juanes, Selena, Ricky Martin and Luis Miguel.