American Music History - Essay Example

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Latin American music, especially the trends which originated in Brazil, Mexico and the Caribbean, has enhanced American popular music and theatre over several decades. The most significant of Latin dance forms and musicians are discussed below.
Bomba was one of the first Latin…
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Insert s and February 20, 2009 History of Latin Music Latin American music, especially the trends which originatedin Brazil, Mexico and the Caribbean, has enhanced American popular music and theatre over several decades. The most significant of Latin dance forms and musicians are discussed below.
Latin Dances:
1. Bomba:
Bomba was one of the first Latin American dances to be popularized in Northern America. With its origins in Puerto Rico, this vibrant dance is meant for couples. It allows the male dancer to move more freely and with more flexibility than his female partner. Drums, a guiro or a maraca and a cowbell are used as accompaniment. The drummer and the male dancer compete against each other by increasing the tempo and making the rhythm more intricate, progressively.
2. Rumba:
Rumba is not really the name of a single dance, rather a genre of dances originating in Cuba. The two to four beat rhythm, which is common to all Cuban dances, is called the Clave rhythm, as it is played by two sticks called claves. The tempo changes but never gets too fast as the couple sway from side to side suggestively, holding each other at approximately arm’s length. Initially danced to African music, the songs for the Rumba gradually converted into Spanish. The Rumba has strayed into contemporary Flamenco, Blues and even Rock music and is continually evolving thanks to newer, experimental artists.
3. Samba and Bossa Nova:
Popularized in the USA by the sensational Carmen Miranda, the Samba has its origins in Brazil and Africa. Bossa Nova emerged in protest to the commercialization of Samba in the 1960s. It is called jazz samba as it blends jazz music with the upbeat rhythms of the samba seamlessly. It was more intimate and lacked the flamboyance of Samba. The song ‘Desafinado’ introduced the term Bossa Nova. Musicians like Miles Davis and Pat Metheny draw great inspiration from the Bossa Nova tradition.
4. Salsa:
Salsa, literally meaning sauce, originated in Cuba, and by the end of the 1970s became a major component of  almost all vernacular fields. It is quintessentially Cuban music, long held a substyle, and although it originally was defined by upbeat, spirited Cuban music, it slowly developed a Latin tinge to it, although retaining that Cuban flavour as well. Today, we define salsa generally as Latin-African music, and what was once dance band music, albeit music incorporating varied rhythms, complex instrumentations and sounds, usage of flutes and violins, under various Puerto Rican and South American influences, and with the inclusion of jazz, has now grown to be a highly sophisticated style of music capable of being molded into many skilful compositions. By the 1980s and 1990s, thanks to a newer generation of Puerto Ricans, the sound of salsa gained a distinct rhythm and blues feel to it, and came to include a very obvious African American aspect. Freestyle singers like Marc Antony (Marco Antonio Muniz) and India (Lindabell Cabalerro) have helped salsa become a musical force to be reckoned with, and the high sales of both artists are evidence enough that salsa is here to stay.
Key Musicians:
1. Dizzy Gillespie:
The genre of ‘cu-bop’ was introduced by Dizzy Gillespie who merged Latin rhythms with his personal bebop style in a concert at Carnegie Hall. Following his example, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton and other musicians began to include Cuban and Brazilian influences in their compositions.
2. Bob Marley:
Reggae musician, Bob Marley became overwhelmingly popular in North America as a pioneer of this genre of music which blended North American rock with typical Jamaican music. Reggae varies in terms of its rhythm, bass line and tempo, although all the forms are generally related to rhythm and blues or R&B as it is more popularly known. Bob Marley is most remembered for his songs ‘No Woman No Cry’, ‘I Shot the Sheriff’, ‘Buffalo Soldier’ and other such immortal numbers.
3. Harry Belafonte:
The most widely recognized calypso song comes from Harry Belafonte’s album Calypso, ‘Day-O’. Apart from being a staunch advocate of Black rights and other such social causes, Belafonte was one of the most prolific musicians of his time. Although overshadowed by the likes of The Beatles later on in his career, Belafonte made his mark on the international music scene with songs like ‘Matilda’ and ‘Jamaican Farewell’.
Latin Pop Music Today:
Musicians like Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Christina Aguilera, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez have made Latin music popular the world over, especially in America. It is no longer restricted to being an alien influence on North American music and has instead become a part of their music and culture. Read More
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