The globalized world shortens distances and facilitates the exchange of ideas and cultures. Even so, the roots of certain artistic movements have remained intact for centuries, representing cities, states, regions, countries and even continents, without suffering so much impact over time.
Latin rhythms, for example, are registered trademarks of our continent. It is true that many of them originate from people who came here for various reasons, but Latin America differs in that it offers such variety and irreverence when it comes to music.
To learn more about Latin rhythms, stay with us. In addition to a quick look at the historical context, we have listed four outstanding musical styles from this region of the planet!
Latin rhythms: characteristics and influences
The history of the main types of expression in the form of music in Latin America mixes with the whole socioeconomic context of the second half of the last millennium. So much so that most of the rhythms developed here came from two continents in particular: Africa and Europe.
Louis XIV’s reign in France organized ball events to entertain the nobility, and the success of the so-called French contradiction fell in the favor of other peoples, such as the Spanish. Thus, some Caribbean colonies, including Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, were influenced by the pace.
Slavery represented another impact factor at the time. Enslaved people from Africa and forced labor in Latin America also imported new styles from our side of the ocean. Religious dances originating in Nigeria and Cameroon arrived with large African ethnic groups.
It was a matter of time, then, for European contradiction to mix with musical instruments and body expression in Africa. The consequence? The birth of countless styles, as we will see below.
Four main Latin rhythms
Now that we know the major factor responsible for the diversity of characteristics found in Latin America, it is time to list the four most popular musical styles.
Still in the 1880s, the suburbs of Buenos Aires became the stage for the mixture of several Hispanic rhythms. Flamenco, the main one, made a successful combination with the milonga, a dance that already exists in Argentina.
The reputation initially linked to sensuality caused uncertainty at first, but tango developed and, with its melancholic character, gained strength worldwide at the beginning of the 20th century. Much on account of Carlos Gardel, historical figure of the rhythm.
Colombia and Cuba created cumbia together. The Colombian black community, mainly influenced by Cuban music styles, created what was called the “slave dance”. On the north coast of the South American country, cumbia grew.
Remembering Cuban salsa a little, this Latin rhythm requires total synchronization between the pair of dancers. After all, the feet of one must be kept in front of those of the other during the presentation. Cumbia became popular in all Spanish-speaking countries in South America.
Kicks to the sides and bounces back and forth: these are the steps that define the conga. Percussion instruments also play a key role in this rhythm, which has emerged as a street style.
Cuban Desi Arnaz, famous for being part of the television series I Love Lucy, played a major role in the spread of conga, making the dance reach the United States. Since the 1930s, however, the style has lost popularity, despite the strong initial impact.
Since the 19th century, meringue has been part of Latin culture. It is a musical strand based on string instruments, especially percussion, accordion and guitar, with combined movements on the hip and pelvis.
With a high African influence, meringue was recognized as the national rhythm of the Dominican Republic. It is worth remembering, however, Haiti’s participation in the roots of the style, as well as its popularity in countries like Colombia and Venezuela.
Latin rhythms are rich in cultural elements of different peoples, as we have seen. To learn more about this incredible universe of diversity, it is essential to study them in depth, mastering them from the dedicated training.
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