This music has its origins in Cuba and Africa. The first wave of Salsa was actually know as “Son” music. Son cubano originated in the highlands of eastern Cuba during the late 19th century.
Instrumentation in Salsa music.
Classic Salsa music instruments are as follows: The Tambora is a popular percussion instrument. Bato is another highly used instrument in Salsa. Clave, maracas, cowbell and bongo are all used a lot in salsa music. Congas form the backbone of the music. The instruments and the vocalists very often imitate the call-and-response melodies of African songs. Other salsa instruments are: Guitar, vibraphone, bass, violin, piano, accordion, marimba, flute. Furthermore, a brass section of trombone, trumpet, and saxophone. As of late, in modern salsa, electronics are added to the mix.
There are different kinds of salsa. Salsa dura is popular in Colombia. Romantica is huge in Mexico. Merengue is another type of salsa.
Where Salsa Began.
Some old school musicians say that Salsa is not even a style. An expert inside a recording studio will affirm this. Tito Puente was not convinced it was a style. He was asked about his thoughts on the music and simply replied: “I’m a musician, not a cook.”
Development and birth of Salsa.
Back and forth collaboration.
Above all, this musical collaboration went both ways. The music went back to South America, Puerto Rico, and Cuba and continued to develop there. It progressed differently in each location. Today we have Cuban salsa (timba), Puerto Rican salsa, and Colombian salsa (dura). Each style has the classic, forward moving energy that is the cornerstone of Salsa, but they also have their unique cultural sounds from each country.
Origins of the name
What’s in the lyrics?
Salsa music lyrics range from basic dance calls and catch phrases, to sentimental romantic songs, to sexy and politically divisive material. Isabelle Leymarie states that salsa musicians and writers incorporate machoistic bravado (guapería) in their words. This is similar to those found in calypso and samba. Guaperia is a theme she ascribes to the lyricists’ “humble backgrounds”. Leymarie states that the music is “essentially virile, an affirmation of the man’s pride and identity”. Similarly, manly taunts and challenges (desafio) are also a part of salsa.
Above all, Salsa lyrics often incorporate traditional Cuban sones and rumbas. As a result, there are also references to Afro-Cuban religions, such as Santeria, even by artists who are not adherents to these faiths. Many Salsa lyrics also show Puerto Rican origins. Similarly Hector LaVoe used typical Puerto Rican form in his singing. It’s not unusual to hear the Puerto Rican exclamation “le-lo-lai” in some songs.
Furthermore, Politics and Social Activism have long been an important part of salsa lyricism. Consequently Eddie Palmieri wrote many songs in his recording studio in this vein. His “La libertad and lógico” became Latin, and Puerto Rican anthems. Ruben Blades is appraised for his socially-conscious salsa lyrics. Ruben wrote about many topics from imperialism to disarmament. He is from Panama. His classic and well composed songs have resonated with audiences throughout Latin America. Ruben is an example of a very sophisticated type of Salsa writer. Hence, his songs are far more than just dance catch phrases. Not only the lyrics, but the music also is very composed and though out in an orchestral way. Similarly, other salsa lyrics contain a nationalist theme, centred around a sense of pride in Latino identity. Finally, Salsa lyrics may be in Spanish, English or Spanglish. Spanglish is a mix of Spanish and English.