Ancestors of Salsa
Salsa originated from a combination of styles in 1900s:
Rumba – iconic Cuban music and dance. All demographics dance the rumba and is especially great to see all workers on the docks come together and dance this style.
Son – a style originated in the eastern part of Cube in the 1900s. It’s both a music and dance style. As a dance it’s slower and smooth. The music has clave rhythm and instrument (2/3 or 3/3). It began with Spanish guitar, bongo and marimbula. The marimbula was later more commonly replaced by the double bass.
Before Salsa as we know it was Mambo created by Oretes López (August 29, 1908 – Jan 26, 1991) in 1938/1939. During 1930’s, 40’s & 50’s American’s regularly went to Cuba (Havana) for holidays. Popular place is El Tropicana which is like the Moulin Rouge in Paris. This made American’s very found of Cuba and was a place where drinking (alcohol) was allowed. This ceased in 1958 with the USA issuing an embargo on Cuba.
Salsa – Cuban & American Music
Cuban music was starting to get introduced to American Jazz bands. 1940’s John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie and Chano Pozo created Latin Jazz by changing the bass rhythm among other things in a more traditional Jazz band. They created “MANTECA” this track is the marriage of Cuban music & American music.
Don Aspiazu – The Rhuma Cuban Orchestra.
Xavier Cugat – violinist, Cuban born moved to New York (US) then to Germany and returned to US and after working as a cartoonist was pivotal in creating music and Latin music for movies. Was asked to create music for Charlie Chaplin. By end of 1940’s made Latin music popular.
Arsenio Sanchez – Cuban pivotal as forefather of Salsa (31 August 1911 – 30 December 1970)
Artists that made Salsa as we know it: Ceila Cruz, Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco.
Salsa In Spanish Harlem
The birth of Salsa started with the Latin immigration to USA. In 1954, Puerto Ricans became the biggest community in Spanish Harlem. As a result, Cuba and Puerto Rico flavour started to fuse with trombone and brass and created a more powerful sound. In 1970’s, Salsa evolved into the style as we know it in New York. And it is still a constantly evolving style.
Salsa – African History
How did the African influence get to Cuba? In 1492, Jewish people were being tortured in Spain and when Christopher Columbus was going on his journey to Cuba a very talented Jewish flamenco & gypsy guitarist joined him. Once the travellers arrived in Cuba there were tribes of native Americans and these people were forced into slavery to work the land but they refused and many died or committed suicide.
Now the travellers needed people to work the land for the Sugar cane and Tobacco and therefore brought African’s to Cuba as slaves to work the land. To survive the journey the highly skilled African drummers played the drum rhythms to give them the will to survive the trip. The Africans were forced to become Catholic and to keep there religion they used their music to disguise that they still kept their religion. Drum rhythms are specific rhythms are linked to different gods.
Once the settlers were established they forced the Cubans left into the mountains to farm. At this point the mixing of Spanish flamenco, African drums were mixed together to give Cuban music its distinct blend
Difference between Mambo & salsa
Mambo original is not just danced on the second beat as only distinction between Mambo & Salsa. Mambo as a dance has such steps like tapping one foot forward then back together, box step around the couple, kick and swivel movements. Mambo today is thought of dancing on the second beat of music and emphasising a different part of the music. Salsa is the name for all styles of the dance that are the ancestors of what we know as salsa today.
You can find more information about this history from the Roots of Rhythm on Youtube narrated by Harry Belafonte