Son music (for Salsa) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Dance Music Glossary

I. What is Son music?

Son music is a genre of Cuban music that originated in the eastern part of the country in the late 19th century. It is a fusion of Spanish and African rhythms and melodies, creating a unique and lively sound that is distinctively Cuban. Son music is often associated with the rural working class and is known for its infectious rhythms and catchy melodies.

II. What are the characteristics of Son music?

Son music is characterized by its use of syncopated rhythms, call-and-response vocals, and intricate guitar playing. The music is typically played by a small ensemble of musicians, including guitar, percussion, and vocals. The lyrics often tell stories of everyday life in Cuba, from love and heartbreak to social and political issues.

One of the key features of Son music is its use of the clave rhythm, a syncopated pattern that serves as the foundation for the music. This rhythm is played on wooden sticks or claves and provides the driving force behind the music, giving it its distinctive sound.

III. How did Son music influence Salsa music?

Son music played a significant role in the development of Salsa music, a genre that emerged in the 1960s in New York City. Salsa music incorporates elements of Son music, such as its syncopated rhythms and call-and-response vocals, but also draws on other influences, such as jazz and rock.

Many of the early Salsa musicians were Cuban immigrants who brought their knowledge of Son music with them to the United States. They fused Son music with other genres to create a new and exciting sound that became known as Salsa. Today, Salsa music is popular around the world and continues to be influenced by Son music.

IV. What are the instruments used in Son music?

The instruments used in Son music vary depending on the ensemble, but some of the most common instruments include the guitar, the tres (a Cuban guitar with three pairs of strings), the bongos, the claves, and the maracas. The guitar and tres provide the melodic and harmonic foundation of the music, while the percussion instruments add rhythm and texture.

The bongos are a pair of small drums that are played with the hands, providing a driving beat to the music. The claves are wooden sticks that are struck together to create the clave rhythm, while the maracas are shakers that add a percussive element to the music.

V. How is Son music danced to?

Son music is typically danced to in pairs, with partners moving in a circular motion around the dance floor. The dance is characterized by intricate footwork, hip movements, and spins, all of which are performed in time with the music. The dance is often playful and flirtatious, with partners engaging in close physical contact as they move to the rhythm of the music.

One of the most popular Son music dances is the salsa, a lively and energetic dance that originated in Cuba and has since become popular around the world. The salsa is a fusion of Son music and other Latin American rhythms, such as mambo and cha-cha-cha, and is known for its fast footwork and intricate partner work.

VI. What are some famous Son music artists?

Some of the most famous Son music artists include the Buena Vista Social Club, a group of Cuban musicians who gained international fame in the late 1990s. The Buena Vista Social Club brought Son music to a global audience with their album of the same name, which won a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album.

Other notable Son music artists include Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, and Omara Portuondo, all of whom were members of the Buena Vista Social Club. These musicians helped to popularize Son music around the world and continue to be celebrated for their contributions to the genre.