Sydney Recording Studio: Latin music is a popular art form developed in various Latin American countries, mainly Cuba, and is unique for the type of rhythmic structures it builds upon. It is vocal and instrumental music, originally derived from African religious ceremonies, however viewed today primarily as dance music. Its strongest characteristic, however, is its rhythm, which is highly syncopated (when the various rhythms being played at one time, create counterpoint against each other in exciting cross rhythms). It is traditionally played by native percussion and string instruments, namely the timbales, congas, bongo, guitar, and the tres (nine-string Cuban guitar). Over time, the piano replaced the guitar as the choral instrument, while the bass, woodwind, trumpets and trombones were added to play melodies and riffs (repetitions of sound).
Sydney Recording Studio: Latin Music “The Clave”
Most Latin music is based on a rhythmic pattern known as the clave. Clave is the basic building block of all Cuban music, and is a 3-2 (occasionally 2-3) rhythmic pattern. Claves are also the name for the two sticks that play this 3-2 (clave) pattern.
Latin music generally uses a three form with (1) a long introductory verse, followed (2) by a montuno section where the band plays a vamp (a two- or three chord progression), building intensity with devices like the mambo (where members of the front line play contrasting riffs) before (3) returning back to the verse and closing out the selection, generally with some type of coda (a short predetermined way of ending a piece; like a postscript at the end of letters).
Sydney Recording Studio: Latin Music Terms
Some important characteristics of Latin music are:
Clave: a syncopated rhythmic pattern played with two sticks, around which everything in the band revolves.
Call And Response Inspiraciones: a musical exchange between two voices inspiratons, improvised phrase by lead vocalist or instrumentalist.
Bajo-Tumbao-bass: repeated rhythmic pattern for the bass or conga based on the clave.