Latin American Musical Styles

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Do you know that the history of Latin music has taken many turns at different point of time? Music of Latin America does not have a linear history. Latin music is mainly a synthesis of various music traditions ranging from indigenous music, Western music to African music. Music has played a crucial role in Latin America’s culture, religion, and politics. Latin America is home to a number of music styles. Latin music is very much influenced by the music of Spain and Portugal on one hand. On the other hand, it blends the Habanera music of Cuba, Conjunto music of Mexico, etc. The intermingling of different music styles have make Latin music so varied and unique.

Indigenous Music Style
Music is an integral part of the native culture of Latin America. Though indigenous Latin music is mostly religious in nature, it celebrates every single aspect of life. Latin music is an amalgamation of various musical elements. Indigenous people used different instruments to accompany vocal music. Instruments like kettledrum, rattles, rasps, tlapitzalli (flute), teponatzli (long drum), and conch-shell trumpet were played by the people. Some of the instruments were considered to be pious. Type of instruments and rhythm, etc. used to vary from region to region.

Much of Latin music is still in the verge of discovery. Little can be known about the indigenous music of this region since Latin America was isolated from the world before the arrival of the colonizers. Thus, Latin music includes various European musical elements. Introduced in 19th century, Habanera belongs to the Cuban dance music family. The “Habanera Rhythm” is the main characteristic of the dance form. It is performed with vocal music.

Another popular music form of Latin America is Bomba. It has originated from the Caribbean area. Puerto Rico and Venezuela has great contribution in the development of this music genre. Bomba is sung in Spanish but it depicts the different aspects of life led by the people who lived in the Caribbean area. Therefore, the songs bear a Caribbean feel in them. Bomba is quite similar to another form of Latin Music that is Merengue.

Dominican Republic in the Caribbean is the birth place of Merengue. This music form draws its origin from the folk music tradition. It is more of a pop music, very energetic and up-tempo. This music form became popular in the 1880s. The instruments that were played initially include sax, percussion, accordion, etc. However, with time those instruments were replaced with piano and bass guitar.

Cumbia is a popular from of Latin music. It shares many of its characteristics with Reggae. This music form was born in Colombia. Cumbia is a mixture of both indigenous and Occidental elements. You can indulge yourself in a laid-back feel with the tune of Cumbia. This form of music features various instruments like percussion, trumpet, and sax, etc.

Another popular genre of Latin Music is Bugaloo. The craze for Bugaloo developed in the 1960s. Funky and jazzy music characterize this genre. Bugaloo is a very unique music form. This music form usually features slower sound and it is played with much brass. Bugaloo is very popular across the Latin American countries.


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