Latin American music

Latin American music

Latin American music, found within Central and South America, is a series of musical styles and genres that mixes influences from Spanish, African and indigenous sources, that has recently become very famous in the US.


Popular music styles by country


The tango is perhaps Argentina's most famous music, becoming famous all around the world. Others include the Chacarera, Milonga, Cueca, Zamba and Chamamé. More modern rhythms include El Cuarteto, and Argentine Cumbia. Argentine rock (known locally as Rock Nacional) was most popular during the 60s, and still remains Argentina's most popular music. Rock en Español became first popular in Argentina, then it swept through other Latin American countries. That movement is called the "Argentine Wave." many people dance to the music and after have a great feast called samba. the eat spicy food and eggs that represent new life.


The music of Belize has a mix of Kriol, Mestizo, Garifuna, and Maya influences. After many centuries of Maya habitation, Spanish and then British colonizers arrived in the area, the latter keeping Belize as its only colony in Spanish-dominated Central America. Far more influential than either European power's arrival, however, was the importation of African slaves. Europeans brought polkas, waltzes, schottisches and quadrilles, while Africans brought numerous instruments and percussion-based musics, including marimba. African culture resulted in the creation of brukdown music in interior logging camps, played using banjo, guitar, drums, dingaling bell, accordion and an ass's jawbone played by running a stick up and down the teeth. Among the most popular styles created by Kriol musicians is brukdown. Brukdown evolved out of the music and dance of loggers, especially a form called buru. Punta and Punta rock jazz hiphop are the most popular dance in Garifuna culture. It is performed around holidays and at parties, and other social events. Punta lyrics are usually composed by the women. Chumba and hunguhungu are a circular dance in a three beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta.


Bolivian music is perhaps the most strongly linked to its native population amongst national styles of South America. Following the nationalistic period of the '50s, Aymara and Quechua culture became more widely accepted, and these styles of folk music gradually fused in a more pop-like sound. Los Kjarkas played a pivotal role in this fusion. Other forms of native music, such as huayños and caporales are also widely played. cumbia is another music enjoyed today. Theres regional forms less known internationally such as the music from Santa Cruz and Tarija where music such as Cueca and Chacarera is quite much so popular.


Brazil is a large and diverse country with a long history of popular musical development, ranging from the early 20th century innovation of samba to the modern Música Popular Brasileira. Bossa nova is internationally well-known, and Forró (pronounced [foˈʁɔ]) is also widely known and beloved in Brazil.


Among the newer musical movements in Chile the most important is perhaps the Nueva Canción that originated in the 1960s and 1970s and spread then after the 1973 Chilean coup d'etat when most musicians where either arrested, killed or exiled. In hearland of Chile, Central Chile, several styles can be found: the Cueca (the national dance), the Tonada, Refalosa, the Sajuriana, Zapateado, Cuando and Vals. In the Norte Grande region traditional music bears high resemblance with the music of Southern Perú and Western Bolivia, and it is called normally "Andean music". This music, which reflects the spirit of the indigenous people of the Altiplano, was one of the inspirations of the Nueva canción. In Chiloé Archipelago has folk music styles by its own due to its isolation far from the cultured centres of Santiago or Lima. Music from the Chilean Polynesia, Rapa Nui music, is deived from Polynesian languages rather than from the colonial society or European influences.


Cuba has produced many of the world's most famous musical genres, and a number of renowned musicians in a variety of styles. Creolized styles range from the danzón to the rumba.


Colombian music can be divided into four musical zones: The Atlantic coast, the Pacific coast, the Andean region and Los Llanos.

The Caribbean (Atlantic) music vibrates with hot rhythms, such as the cumbia, porros and mapalé.

The music from the Pacific coast, such as the currulao, with a strong use of drums, is tinged with Spanish influence.

Music of the Colombian Andes has been strongly influenced by Spanish rhythms and instruments, and differs noticeably from the Indian music of Peru or Bolivia. Among the typical forms are the bambuco, pasillo guabina and torbellino, played with string instruments like tiple guitarra, and also with piano.

The music of Los Llanos, "música llanera", is usually accompanied by a harp, cuatro (a sort of four-string guitar) and maracas. It has much in common with the music of the Venezuelan Llanos.

Apart from these traditional forms, two newer musical styles have conquered large parts of the country. These are "la salsa" which has spread throughout the Pacific coast, and the "vallenato", which emanated from La Guajira and César (northern part of the Caribbean coast). The latter is based on the European accordion.

Amongst all the mentioned above, throughout the nation Salsa, and merengue can be heard as well. More recently the development of music styles such as reggaeton and bachata have also had a great impact within the nation.

Dominican Republic

Merengue típico and Orchestra merengue has been popular in the Dominican Republic for many decades, and is widely regarded as the national music.

Bachata is a more recent arrival taking influences from the Bolero and derived from the country's rural guitar music. Bachata has evolved and risen in popularity over the last 40 years in the Dominican Republic and other countries such as Puerto Rico, with the help of artists such as Antony Santos, Luis Segura, Luis Vargas, Teodoro Reyes, Yoskar Sarante, Alex Bueno, and Aventura. Bachata, Merengue and Salsa are now equally popular among Spanish speaking Caribbean people. When Spanish Crusaders sailed over the Atlantic they brought with them a new type of music called Hesparo, which contributed to the development of Dominican music.

Also, the romantic style is present in the Dominican Republic, wonderful voices like Angela Carrasco, Anthony Rios, Dhario Primero, Maridalia Hernandez and Olga Lara among others.


Traditional Ecuadorian music can be classified in mestizo, Indian and black musics. Mestizo music comes out of the interrelation between Spanish and Indian music. In it there are rhythms such as pasacalles, pasillos, albazos and sanjuanitos and is usually characterized by the use of string instruments. There are also regional variations such as more Coastal styles such as vals (similar to Vals Peruano (Waltz)) and montubio music, referring to the coastal hill country.

Indian music in Ecuador is determined in varying degrees by the influence of quichua culture. Within it we find sanjuanitos (different from the meztizo sanjuanito), capishkas, danzantes and yaravis. Non-quechua indigenous music ranges from Tsáchila music of Santo Domingo which is influenced by the neighboring afro marimba; or Amazonian music of groups such as the Shuar.

Black Ecuadorian music can be classified in two main forms. The first type is black music from the coastal Esmeraldas province and is characterized by the use of the marimba. The second variety is black music from the Chota Valley in the northern Sierra, mainly known as Bomba del Chota, and is characterized by a more pronounced mestizo and Indian influence than marimba esmeraldeña. Most of these musical styles can also be played by windbands of varying sizes in popular festivals all around the country.

Like other Latin American countries Ecuadorian music includes several local exponents of international styles from opera to salsa to rock to cumbia to thrash metal to jazz and everything in between. Such is the state of being a modern nation despite the traditionalist folkloric gaze of this article which presupposes that Latin music is ethnic music.

El Salvador

Salvadorian music can be compared to the Colombian style of music call Cumbia but different style which is more well know outside El Salvador Popular styles in moder El Salvador besides Cumbia are Salsa, Cumbia, Bachata, Reggaeton. "Political chaos tore the country apart in the early 20th century, and music was often suppressed, especially those with strong native influences. In the 1940s, for example, it was decreed that a dance called "Xuc" was to be the "national dance" which was created and led by Paquito Palaviccini's and his "ORQUESTA INTERNACIONAL POLIO." In the last ten years Reggaeton and Hip hop have many popularity and Salvadorian youths form groups such as Pescozada and Mecate. Salvadorian music have many styles such as Mayan music on the border of El Salvador and Guatemala which is known as Chalatenango. Another style of music not originally from El Salvador could be known as Punta a Belizean and Honduran much more style. One of the leading classical composers from El Salvador is Carlos Colón-Quintana.


Rich blend of African and European sounds; along with Cuban and Dominican influences, come together to create Haiti's diverse music. The most notable styles are Kompa and Méringue.

Evolving in Haiti in the 1850s, the Haitian merengue, called the "mereng," is regarded as the oldest surviving form of merengue still performed today.

Haitiean Creole, méringue in French is a national symbol in Haiti. according to Jean Fouchard, mereng evolved from the fusion of slave musics such as the chica and calenda with ballroom forms related to the French contredanse Mereng's name, he says, derives from the mouringue music of the Bara, a Bantu people of Madagascar. That few Malagasies came to the Americas renders this etymology dubiou, but it is significant because it foregrounds what Fouchard, and most Haitians, consider the essentially African-derived nature of their music and national identity. Dominican merengue, Jean Fouchard suggests, developed directly from Haitian mereng Dominicans are often disinclined to admit African and Haitian influences on their culture. As ethnomusicologist Martha Davis points out, many Dominican scholars "have, at the least, ignored African influence in Santo Domingo. At the worst, they have bent over backwards to convince themselves and their readers of the one hundred percent Hispanic content of their culture. This is not an uncommon Latin American reaction to the inferiority complex produced by centuries of Spanish colonial domination".


The music of Honduras is very varied, from Punta, the local genre of the Garifunas, to Caribbean music like Salsa, Merengue, Reggae, and Reggaeton all widely heard especially in the North, to Mexican rancheras heard in the interior, rural part of the country. The country's ancient capital of Comayagua is an important center for modern Honduran music, and is home to the College for Fine Arts.


Mexico is perhaps one of the most diverse countries in the world when it comes to music. Each of its 31 States and its capital city (and its Burroughs) claim unique styles of music. The most representative is the Mariachi serenade music. Although commonly portrayed as music wanderers play, it is extremely technical and purist mariachi music follows very strict rules. Most of its music is sang with verses and prose of complex poetry. Other regional music includes:

Son Jarocho or Mexican mambo, Mexican pop, Rancheras which differs from Mariachi music as it is less technical and its lyrics are not sang in prose - form of Mexican country music, Boleros, etc.

Another popular style called or Norteña mainly played in the Northeastern part of the country it assimilates Mexican Ranchera with Colombian cumbia and is usually played with Bavarian accordions and it is very similar to Tex-Mex music. Many other versions exist such as Mexican Spanish rock, Duranguense, Veracruzan Danzon, Trio, Cha Cha Cha, Sinaloan Tambora, etc. Cuba usually disputes ownership of mambo music, but notably one of its major composers was Perez Prado, a Mexican. The Mexican mambo however is highly technical and its use of metal is less aggressive than its Caribbean counterpart, some opine the Mexican mambo is more refined.


The most popular style of music in Central America Nicaragua is Palo de Mayo which is a dance and genre of music, as well as a festival in which the dance and music originated. Other popular music includes marimba, punta, Garifuna music, son nica, folk music, merengue, bachata, and salsa.


The popular style of music in Panama is Spanish reggae. Spanish reggae is a style of music that originated here in 1977 and continues to the present, even though reggaeton enventually was created in Puerto Rico and it has strong Puerto Rican influences such as the island's bomba and plena soca. Salsa, bachata, and merengue can be heard as well throughout the nation. Other Hispanic and Latino styles can be heard as well as can Caribbean, Salsa and West Indian music.


Polka Paraguaya, which adopted the name from a European beat, is the most typical type of music and has relatively different versions including the Galopa, the Krye’ÿ and the Canción Paraguaya, or Paraguayan Song. The first two are faster and more upbeat than the standard polka, and the third, a slight bit slower and melancholic. Other popular styles include the Purahéi Jahe’o and the Compuesto, which generally tell sad, epic or love stories.

The polka usually is based on poetic lyrics, but there are some emblematic pieces of Paraguayan music that exist, such as Pájaro Campana, or Songbird, by Félix Pérez Cardozo. Guarania is the second best known Paraguayan music style and was created by the great musician José Asunción Flores in 1925. Paraguayan music depends largely upon two instruments: the guitar and the harp, whose first copies were brought by the conquistadors and found their own style in the country.


Peruvian music is made up of indigenous, Spanish, and West African influences. Coastal Afro-Peruvian music is characterized by the use of the Cajón peruano. Amerindian music varies according to region and ethnicity. The most well known Amerindian style is the huayño, also popular in Bolivia, played on instruments such as the charango and guitar. Mestizo music is varied and within it we find as most popular valses and marinera from the northern coast.

Puerto Rico

Out of all of Puerto Rico's musical exports, it is known for its version of salsa music as well as reggaeton. Bomba and plena have been popular in Puerto Rico for a long time, while reggaetón is a relatively recent invention. Reggaeton is a form of urban contemporary music, which often combine other Latin musical styles and Caribbean and West Indies music together such as reggae and soca and Spanish reggae, most commonly salsa music and merengue music and bachata. Now in current times in Puerto Rico it has a genre known as Malianteo which is blend Rap, Regaeton, and Rap Core version


Llanera is Venezuelan popular music originated in the "llanos" plains, although you will find the more upbeat and festive Gaita beat in the western area, specifically in Zulia State. There is also African influenced styles which emphasize drumming and dance and such diverse styles as music from the Guayana region influenced by the neighboring English speaking countries as well as andean music from Mérida.


Uruguay has similar roots to Argentina. Uruguayan tango and milonga are both very popular styles. Plus, their folk music from along the River Plate is indistinguishable from its Argentine counterpart. Uruguay rock and cancion popular, essentially their versions of rock and pop music, are currently the most popular local forms. Candombe, a style of drumming descending from African slaves in the area, is one of the few things that can be deemed quintessentially Uruguayan, although it does also occur to a lesser-extent in Argentina.[1] It is most popular in Montevideo but can be found in a number of other internal cities too.

Popular styles

Nueva canción


Based on Cuban music (especially Cuban son and son montuno) in rhythm, tempo, baseline, riffs and instrumentation, Salsa represents an amalgamation of musical styles, including rock, jazz, and other Latin American musical traditions including Puerto Rico. Modern salsa as it became known worldwide was forged in the pan-Latin melting pot of New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Tejano music

Tejano music can be categorized as a blend of country music, rock, and R&B born in Texas and performed in both Spanish and English with a variety of cultural influences.

Most Tejanos today reside in South Texas and have their own unique form of folk and popular music, greatly influenced by yet quite distinctive from both traditional genres of Mexican music and mainstream genres of American music. Latina Superstar Selena brought Tejano music to the mainstream and is credited frequently for bringing it to the top.


Reggaeton has become an Latin American phenomenon and is no longer classifiable merely as a Panamanian or even Puerto Rican genre. It blends Jamaican musical influences of reggae and dancehall and Trinidadian soca with Latin American music, such as the Puerto Rican bomba and plena, as well as that of American hip hop and rap. The music is also combined with rapping (generally) in Spanish.

Latin Ballad

The Latin or romantic ballad is a latin music genres that originated in the 60s. This kind of ballad is very popular in Latin America and Spain and is characterized by a very sensitive musical rhythm. Descendant of the bolero, it have Several variants, such as salsa and cumbia romantic between others. In the second half of the twentieth and in twenty-first century a number of artists have popularized the genre such as Julio Iglesias, Luis Miguel and Christian Castro.

Imported styles

Imported styles of popular music with a distinctively Latin style include Latin jazz, Argentine rock and Chilean rock, and Cuban and Mexican hip hop, all based on styles from the United States (jazz, rock and roll and hip hop). Music from non-Latin parts of the Caribbean are also popular, especially Jamaican reggae and dub, Trinidadian calypso music and Soca. See also Spanish Tinge. Flamenco, rumba and pasodoble from Spain is popular in some segments due to the Spanish heritage of Latin-America.

See also


  1. ^ In a Nutshell: Candombe, R. Slater Sounds and Colours
  • Morales, Ed (2003). The Latin Beat. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81018-2. 
  • Nettl, Bruno (1965). Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents. Prentice-Hall, Inc. ISBN 0-13-323247-6. 
  • Stevenson, Robert (1952). Music in Mexico. Thomas Y. Crowell Company. ISBN 1-199-75738-1. , cited in Nettl, p. 163.

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