The definitions below
courtesy of www.latinbayarea.com
Salsa is a term of unclear origin that emerged and became
popular in New York in the late 1960s. It has remained controversial
since. For some, salsa is nothing more than a marketing
handle for Afro-Cuban music as updated and reinterpreted
by Latinos in New York. Others hear it as a distinctive
New York-Caribbean style, pointing out the grittier sound
and the pan-Latin elements (e.g.: Puerto Rican, Panamanian
and Dominican as well as Afro-Cuban), along with R&B
and jazz influences.
While there are similarly named dances in other countries,
this merengue, a fast-paced music danced in a tight two-step,
is the national dance of the Dominican Republic. Born in
the Dominican countryside in the 19th century of African
and European traditions, merengue was traditionally played
by small groups featuring accordion, güiro (metal scraper)
and the two-headed tambora drum. It became enormously popular
in the 1980s played by brassy, big band-like orchestras.
The Latin GRAMMYs' "Traditional" field celebrates
classic Creole styles and the Cuban son is an essential,
subtle blending of African and European elements developed
in the island's Oriente (Eastern) province. Rich and malleable,
son is to Cuban popular music what blues is to Afro-American
popular music. Much of what is known as salsa, for example,
is based on son.
Cumbia, a sweetly syncopated dance music from the Atlantic
coast of Colombia, is a classic example of the Creole fusion
of indigenous, European and African cultural elements in
the Americas. The original cumbia featured percussion and
voice but as it evolved, instruments were added. By the
time it reached Colombia's urban centers, in the 1940s,
it was played by large dance orchestras. Cumbia has reached
far and wide, but has been especially influential in Mexico
and Central America.
The dramatic ranchera, which emerged during the Mexican
Revolution, is considered by many the country's quintessential
popular music genre. Sung to different beats including the
waltz and the bolero, its lyrics traditionally celebrate
rural life, talk about unrequited love and tell of the struggles
of Mexico's Everyman. Tejano/conjunto and norteño acts favor
rancheras with romantic themes played to a polka beat. Mariachis
and grupos prefer the gentler boleros and waltzes.
Banda, literally "band" in Spanish, generally
refers to the large brass-heavy ensembles that first appeared
in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa in the early 20th
century. Early banda featured trumpets, trombones, tubas
and percussion instruments, but no lead singer. The contemporary
banda, although it still features a horn section, often
includes keyboards and electric bass. Banda music exploded
in the '90s due to the rise of la quebradita, a fast dance
that incorporates moves from polka, rock and roll, and cumbia.
The term "grupo," which literally refers to a
band of musicians, in recent years has come to denote keyboard-driven
romantic pop bands with members who share equal billing.
Grupo music is referred to as "onda grupera."
Tejano, Spanish for "Texan," is a hybrid of traditional
Mexican rancheras, polkas and cumbias infused with elements
of country, blues and pop. Bandleader and saxophonist Isidro
"El Indio" López is credited with creating modern
Tejano music in the late 1950s by bringing together the
sounds of the big band Tejano orchestra and the accordion-centered
conjunto. By the '90s, Tejano had blossomed into many sub-genres
including Tejano/pop, Tejano/R&B and Tejano/country.
Conjunto is a unique Texas-based music tradition born in
the 19th century that continues to evolve and thrive today.
Conjunto, like jazz, blues, and rock and roll, is a distinct
American musical genre that has had a major impact on the
Mexican American community of the United States, as well
as reviving an interest in the accordion, and is gaining
fans around the world. Accordion-driven
conjunto is its own culture, fans and followers, and plays
an integral and vital role in many communities. It is dramatic,
vibrant and sensual - far from traditional! Flaco Jimenez is an example of the conjunto sound.
Norteño, Spanish for "northern," is a genre rooted
in rural folk music but enriched by many elements from the
music of German and Czech immigrants. A norteño band typically
features an accordion and a bajo sexto (a 12-string bass
guitar), but modern groups such as Los Tigres del Norte
and Bronco also include electric bass, sax and keyboards.