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Latin American Popular Music


Nueva Canción
Nueva Trova
Bossa Nova
Other links
Other midis
Link to All-Music Guide


Latin American music is extremely rich and varied, encompassing different traditions from Mexico, Central America, South America (Spanish-speaking countries and Portuguese-speaking Brazil, among others), and the Caribbean (Spanish-speaking Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, as well as French influenced Haiti, and the British Caribbean, most notably Jamaica).

Latin American music has benefited from very varied influences: Spanish and Portuguese, Native American (especially in the Amazon region, Mexico, Guatemala and the Andes), and African (primarily in the Caribbean islands and Caribbean coast of South America).

Native American Music

We know little about Native American music in the Americas before the conquests (pre-Columbian music). Archeological studies at Maya, Aztec and Inca sites have given us some information, as have descriptions made by missionaries. Different types of drums, flutes, and trumpet-like instruments were used. Stringed and other instruments were introduced in the 16th century by the Europeans.

Mestizo Music
The term mestizo refers to Latin Americans who combine indigenous and European traits. Mestizo music has received both of those influences. European instruments and derivations of them include the harp, the guitar, the violin, and the accordion. The African marimba is also common in popular bands in Mexico and Central America. Trumpets also became common in Mexican bands in this century (mariachi bands). Flutes are the main contribution of native culture, most notably in the Incan region (Peru), and varied percussion instruments the main instrumental African influence, primarily along the Caribbean coasts.

As to its musical characteristics, the experts tell us that:

Mestizo music tends to be strophic--that is, the same music is repeated in each stanza of a song--with song texts in the Iberian-derived copla (four-line stanzas), decima (ten-line stanzas), and other forms. The European major and minor scales are used most frequently, as are basic European harmonies. Vocal and instrumental melodic lines are often performed in parallel thirds ... A common feature of rural mestizo music throughout Latin America is hemiola, or the simultaneous or sequential juxtaposition of duple and triple rhythmic patterns, within a moderate or quick 6/8 meter (see Musical Rhythm). This type of rhythm is basic to the Mexican songs performed by mariachi ensembles; to the national dance of Chile, the cueca; to the popular Venezuelan dance the joropo; to Paraguayan harp music; and to many other Latin American musical forms."

"Certain popular European dance genres, such as the contra dance, the waltz, and the polka, became widely adopted and remain popular in both rural and urban Latin American communities. Many local variants have sprung from these genres."

T. R. Turino, Encarta Encyclopedia
Afro-American Music

In regions to which large numbers of African slaves were brought by the Europeans the African influence on the local music is most noticeable. These areas are the Caribbean, northeastern Brazil, coastal Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana. African instruments used in these countries include primarily percussion instruments, such as drums and shakers, and the marimba.

"African musical features that have been influential in Latin America include call-and-response singing, the use of interlocking instrumental and vocal patterns, the preference for buzzy timbres, the use of repeated melodic and rhythmic cycles (ostinatos) as the formal basis of pieces, and the simultaneous performance of multiple rhythmic parts."

"The African heritage is often a primary basis of some of the most internationally influential music to come out of Latin America. This includes popular genres such as the Cuban son and rumba (rhumba), Jamaican reggae, Trinidadian calypso and steel band, Dominican merenge, Brazilian samba, Colombian cumbia, and the international salsa genre."

T. R. Turino, Encarta Encyclopedia
What you'll find here

In the rest of this page you will find some very basic information about Latin American music, primarily what we can call Afro-Latin or Afro-Caribbean types of music, including salsa, merengue, bochata, and samba.

We will also briefly look at other well-known types of popular Latin American music, such as tango, milonga, vallenato, and corrido. Finally, we will have something to say about the Latin American nueva canción ("new song") movement, including the nueva trova cubana ("new Cuban trouvadors").

This page doesn't intend to be a definitive source on Latin American music, but just a basic orientation for the confused. However, eventually we would like to improve this page with input from its visitors. So please send us your comments, additions, and corrections (see form below).

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Midi and other sound formats

You can listen to sound files on your PC. WAV files produce very good quality sound, but they are very large. That is why different compressed formats have been created, such as the MPEG format and the RealAudio format.

(A good high fidelity audio player for Windows is Winamp. "Winamp is a fast, flexible, high-fidelity music player for Windows 95/98/NT. Winamp supports MP3, MP2, CD, MOD, WAV and other audio formats, custom interfaces called skins and audio visualization and audio effect plug-ins." No-nag shareware. (See also front-end databases for Winamp: ShufflePlay and MP3 Manager)

Midi files are synthesized music files. The quality of good ones can be quite outstanding, especially if you have a good sound card or a program which enhances their quality (such as WinGroove). An advantage of midi files is their relatively small size, compared to wave or mpeg files. Chances are your computer already has a midi player and if not, or if you want one with more bells and whistles, you can get one for free (or rather cheaply), e.g.

Microsoft Windows Media Player: Microsoft's new media player plays midi's as well as many other audio and video file formats, such as WAV, AVI, QuickTime, and RealAudio 4.0 and RealVideo 4.0. It's free.
RealPlayer: Among a number of other file types, RealPlayer can play midi files quite well. You should definitely have this free player in your arsenal.

On the other hand, if you want to listen to CD's with your multimedia-equipped computer, chances are that it already comes equiped with a CD playing program. If not, there are several very good and free (or cheap shareware) CD players which will even search the CD's information on a database and retrieve track titles and other information, such as NotifyCD and QuitessentialCD.

Some good Latin MIDI sites
Note about the midis at this site

The midis used in the page are either in the public domain (as far as we know) or have been used with the author's permission. They may NOT be used for commercial purposes. Please write to us if you have any questions (Jon Aske at Click here to send email)

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Let us begin with salsa and let us look at some definitions and explanations of what salsa is taken from a number of places. To begin with, salsa is not any one particular style of music, but rather a combination of styles, primarily of Cuban origin, as they were introduced in New York City by Puerto Rican musicians in the 1960's:

"Salsa is a blend of Afro-Cuban music combined with the musical voices of Latinos in large urban centers such as New York City" (Latino! Latino!).

"The term salsa, much like the term jazz, encompasses many different rhythms. It was invented at the end of the 1960s, when Puerto Ricans living in New York began to play Cuban music, adding their own imprint to it. It is a convenient term, which means "sauce" and which nowadays refers to a variety of music styles. At first, Cubans were a little upset that rhythms they had invented were going by the generic name of salsa, but today nobody has any trouble with the label. (Leymarie)

"The rhythms that go by the generic label of salsa have African origins together with Spanish influence. Since the end of the sixteenth century there was in Cuba and elsewhere in the Caribbean a process of musical creolization, born of the marriage of African rhythms and Hispanic and French music. This gave something with a truly unique flavor. Thus, for example, the mambo came about from the mixing of ballroom dancing (such as the French contredanse) with African rhythms. (Leymarie)

"Salsa music has spread throughout the world. Willie Colon, born in the Bronx of Puerto Rican origin, is one of the great representatives of this genre. Venezuelans are very proud to have one of the best Salsa musicians, Oscar de Leon. Colombians boast of many exceptional salsa groups including Los del Caney. Spanish artists such as Manzanita combine this music with gypsy rhythms to create flamenco rumba" (Storper Latino! Latino!).

Afro-Cuban music has strong African roots as well as a European influence. It is the fusion of many elements that, over hundreds of years, created a unique Cuban sound. (Latino! Latino!).

"Well over half the slaves brought to Cuba, including the grandparents of tres guitar player Arsenio RodrÍguez, were from the Congo. Others came from the Yoruban populations of West Africa, bringing the rhythms and drumming of their religions which gave way to Santería in Cuba, Vodou in Haiti and Candomble in Brazil. To this day, the Yoruban languages of western Nigeria and Benin (Dahomey) and Kikongo from Congo are spoken and sung in Cuba" (Latino! Latino!).

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Salsa and related vocabulary

Rhythms played with sacred batas drums invented by Bebo Valdés in the 1950's. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Popular Cuban genre of Spanish origin which appeared in the Oriente province at the end of the 19th century. (Glossaire du Salsero)

These are Afro-Puerto Rican dance and songs traditionally associated with plantation workers on Puerto Rico. The name was inspired by a fairly large wooden drum covered with goatskin called the 'bomba' which accompanied this music. The songs are improvised and have an antiphonal or 'call and response' style - that is, a kind of musical dialogue is usually led by female singer; the crowd joins in, answering back to her. (Salsa Stories)

Small double drum which one holds between one's knees. (Glossaire du Salsero)

New York Latin rhythm influenced by soul music and popularized in the 1960's. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Very common expression to express the heat, brightness, and beauty of a well performed piece (it means "candle", literally). (Glossaire du Salsero)

Cha cha cha
Rhythm invented in the 1950's by the Cuban violinist Enrique Jorrin. (Glossaire du Salsero)
In the 19th century, a large number of French immigrants arrived in Cuba and influenced many aspects of Cuban culture and music. The cha-cha-chá is a variant of the Cuban danzón, which originated in French contradanza. It became popular in the early 1950s, and, like the danzon, was danced by couples in dance halls. What makes the cha-cha-chá different from other dances is the movement of three steps forward and three steps backwards. The cha-cha-chá continues to be composed and danced in Cuba and other places in the world. (Storper Latino! Latino!).

Danzon orchestra containing primarily flute, violin and timbales. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Two-beat bass rhytm of African origin. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Instrument made of two pieces of wood which mark the rhythm when hit against each other. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Type of drum which originated in the Congo, originally very commonly used during carnival season before being introduced in room orchestras, and then in popular music. (Glossaire du Salsero)

A small musical group or 'combo', usually with piano, rhythm section (conga and bongo drums, timbales, cowbell), bass, and trumpets or trombones." (Salsa Stories)

Among the many varieties of Colombian music, the most popular is "cumbia," which is a fusion of the music of indigenous people from Colombia and African music that was brought to Latin America by slaves." (Storper Latino! Latino!).

Musical genre which developed from European contredanse, particularly popular in Cuba at the end of the 18th century and in Puerto Rico. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Cuban dance derived from the danza, popularized at the end of 19th century. (Glossaire du Salsero)

A music and dance genre from the late 17th, introduced in Cuba by immigrants from Haiti and Louisiana; it has a strong Afro-Cuban syncopated rhythm." (Salsa Stories)

Improvisation. The equivalent of jam-sessions. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Particularly dynamic and frenetic salsa which has been very popular in Havana since the beginning of the 1990's. (Glossaire du Salsero)

A variation of the rumba originating in Havana, Cuba." (Salsa Stories)

A very popular song and dance genre which likely originated in Cuba, also popular in Puerto Rico and New York from the 920s through the 1940s." (Salsa Stories)

Instrument made from a streaked wooden gourd against which a stick is rubbed. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Jazz which appeared in the 1950's which is played with Afro-Latin rhythms and percussion. (Glossaire du Salsero)

"Latin jazz originated in New York City as a product of the encounter during the 1940s of Chano Pozo, conga player for the Machito Band, and the legendary trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie. Latin jazz combines jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms, a natural mix that evolved in New York City in the midst of both the Latin and African-American ghettos. Poncho Sanchez is one of the best representatives of this genre and a consummate virtuoso of his instrument, the conga. For eight years he was a member of the band of Carl Tjader whom he recognizes as his "father" and mentor. Poncho is a versatile artist, a musician who, with his hands, can produce high-energy pieces that can inspire you to dance while feeling strong emotions. This album includes his beautiful execution of "Bésame Mamá," a classic by Mongo Santamaria who accompanies Poncho on the conga." (Storper Latino! Latino!).

Musical genre invented by Pérez Prado which was very popular in the 1950's, before competition came from the bossa-nova and the Cha cha cha. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Another Cuban dance style popular in New York City from the 1930s through the 1950s, strictly instrumental." (Salsa Stories)
  • MIDI: Mambo Mix (mambomix.mid, 60Kb, sequenced by Ulrich Wode)

Instrument which serves to mark the rhythm and which is formed by two small wooden gourds containing small pebbles. (Glossaire du Salsero)

The national dance of the Dominican Republic. (Glossaire du Salsero)

A dance style from the Dominican Republic, introduced to Puerto Rico and later the United States during the 1930s; typically, it is accompanied by a small accordion, a two headed drum called the 'tambora', and a singer who plays the guiro, and has a syncopated duple meter." (Salsa Stories)

A section of salsa music featuring call and response between the lead singer and chorus; the piano often has a repeated "vamp" or musical line." (Salsa Stories)

Rhythm which was popularized in the 1960's by Pello el Afrokan. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Dance which resulted from a song composed in 1959 by Eduardo Davidson. (Glossaire du Salsero)

A Puerto Rican folk ballad, often accompanied by guitars, guiros , maracas and conga drums." (Salsa Stories)

Ballroom dance from the 1930's which originated in Cuba. (Glossaire du Salsero)

The word "rumba" for Latin people means party, dance, or good time. However, there is a difference between flamenco rumba and Cuban rumba. Flamenco rumba, proof of the impact of Cuban music in Europe and especially in Spanish gypsy music, is played with guitars and clapped hands. The Cuban rumba is played with drums, claves and chorus. Cuban rumba includes different styles called guaguanco, colombia and yambú. (Storper Latino! Latino!).

There are several ways to describe 'rumba'. On the one hand, it is a generic name for commercialized versions of guarachas, plenas and sones performed primarily for non-Latino audiences of the mid 20th century United States. In Cuba, it refers to a music and dance style (of African origin) as well as a kind of 'attitude' and amience. Often thee are accompanied by cona drums, claves, a lead singer and a chorus." (Salsa Stories)

Literally meaning "sauce", it is an interjection, or exclamation, used to give encouragement to an orchestra. Nowadays, the name given to different varieties of popular music styles of Cuban origin stemming from the Latin quarter in New York at the end of the 1960's. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Salsa music and dance
A musical hybrid, a mix of Afro-Cuban, Afro-Puerto Rican and Latin Caribbean traditional musics mixed with Latin American jazz and other styles. The polyrhythmic, beautifully syncopated music is usually played by a band of 8-10 musicians - 1 or 2 lead singers, brass instruments (especially the trombone), piano, bass, conga drums, timbales, bongos, a cowbell and other percussion instruments." (Salsa Stories)

Instrument formed by a wooden gourd covered with a net with beads. When it is shaken it serves to mark a rhythm. (Glossaire du Salsero)

The main pillar of Cuban music, which resulted at the end of the 19th century from the coming together of African music and Spanish music. It was popularized in the 1920's. (Glossaire du Salsero)

Son is one of the oldest rhythms from Cuba. It originated around the beginning of the century in the province of Oriente and soon became popular in the dance halls of Havana. Son is played with guitar, maracas, clave, tres, bongo and trumpet. This genre evolved and influenced many rhythms, including what is today known as salsa. As Colombia borders the Caribbean on its northern coast, all the Afro-Cuban rhythms including salsa arrived there. During the 1970s, a salsero movement took root in the city of Cali. The influence was so big among the fans that Cali became the Colombian capital of salsa." (Storper Latino! Latino!).

Identified as the single most popular dance music genre of Cuba in the 20th century, it has had one of the strongest impacts on Latin music in New York." (Salsa Stories)

Rhythm invented in the 1970's by Changuito, le percussionist of the group Los Van Van. (Glossaire du Salsero)

A singer of son music and, by extension, of salsa as well. (Glossaire du Salsero)

There are a lot of singers in the world, but only a few "soneros". A sonero is a person whom has the ability to simultaneously sing, improvise over any melodic line, dance, and play a musical instrument. Oscar De León is the number one sonero in salsa music. A native of Venezuela, Oscar De León has proven to Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians, and salsa fans in general, that salsa music is indeed universal. (Storper Latino! Latino!).

Two drums mounted on a stand. (Glossaire du Salsero)

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Salsa songs

  • MIDI: Apiadate de Mi (Salsa, apiadate.mid, 56Kb, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Baila Salsa (salsa, bailasalsa.mid, 80Kb, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: La Salsa (la_salsa.mid, 97Kb, Lavilliers, from Salsa Media Site)
  • MIDI: Si tú no está (Salsa, 95Kb, situnoestas.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Toca bonito (Salsa, tocabonito.mid, sequenced by Ulrich Wode)


Salsa links

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Merengue is the most popular type of music of the Dominican Republic, indeed the national dance, we could say. The Dominican Republic shares this music and dance with its neighbor in the Hispaniola island, Haiti, where it is called meringue.

We hear that "it is possible the dance took its name from the confection made of sugar and egg whites — because of the light and frothy character of the dance or because of its short, precise rhythms."

Much as with salsa, "there is a lot of variety in Merengue music. Tempos vary a great deal and the Dominicans enjoy a sharp quickening in pace towards the latter part of the dance. The most favored routine at the clubs and restaurants that run a dance floor is a slow Bolero, breaking into a Merengue, which becomes akin to a bright, fast Jive in its closing stages. The ballroom Merengue is slower and has a modified hip action."

From The History of Dance

Another music critic has defined merengue the following way:

"Musically, merengue is frenetic, infectious and delicious. Its main rhythms are based in two percussion instruments: the tambora and the guira, both of which were brought to the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) by West African slaves. Another defining sound in merengue is the incredibly fast, repetitive, percussive lines played by the alto and tenor saxophones, lines originally played on the German accordion several decades ago."

From: To the Tune of a Tropical Beat, by María Bird Picó © 1996 LatinoLink

Merengue songs

Merengue links

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Bachata is the other popular musical genre from the Dominican Republic. Until recently it was associated with the lower classes and rural areas and was not held in high esteem in the official music world.

Bachata tunes are simple and repetitive and the lyrics are simple and often misogynist (machista) in nature.

More recently, established Dominican musicians, most notably Juan Luis Guerra, have "rescued" bachata and given it higher quality arrangements and lyrics.

Besides Juan Luis Guerra, other well-known bachata artists include Víctor Víctor, Anthony Ríos, and Manuel Jiménez, which are also known for playing other genres. More popular, or "true" bachateros include Anthony Santos and Teodoro Reyes.

A recent book by Deborah Pacini Hernandez (1995) analyzes the history of the bachata. Here are some interesting excerpts from the introduction:

"Until recently, bachata was a musical pariah in its country of origin, the Dominican Republic. Since its emergence in the early 1960s, bachata, closely associated with poor rural migrants residing in urban shantytowns, was considered too crude, too vulgar, and too musically rustic to be allowed entrance into the mainstream musical landscape. As recently as 1988, no matter how many copies a bachata record may have sold-and some bachata hits sold far more than most records by socially acceptable merengue orquestas--no bachata record ever appeared on a published hit parade list, received airplay on FM radio stations in the country's capital, Santo Domingo, or were sold in the principal record stores. Bachata musicians appeared only rarely on television, and they performed only in working-class clubs in the capital. In contrast, even second rate merengue orquestas were given lavish publicity and promotion, and they entertained at posh private clubs and nightclubs.

"Now, only a few years later, the previously stigmatized bachata has been embraced by all classes of Dominican society ... Outside the country, bachata has become practically a household word throughout Latin America, and even in the United States and Europe, anyone who follows Latin American music even casually is likely to have heard about Dominican bachata. Dominicans, once appalled at the rudeness and vulgarity of bachata, are now surprised--and proud--to se the bachata has acquired an international profile, bringing the music of the Dominican Republic to the attention of worldwide audiences..." (pgs. 1-2)

"In the Dominican Republic, it was a talented young musician named Juan Luis Guerra who was responsible for taking bachata out of obscurity and introducing it to diverse audiences both in the Dominican Republic and abroad. In 1991 Guerra and his vocal group 4:40 released a recording entitled Bachata rosa (KCD-136/BMG 3230), which has been one of the most successful recordings in the recent history of Latin music ..." (pg. 2)

"The music that today is called bachata emerged from and belongs to a long-standing Pan-Latin American tradition of guitar music, música de guitarra, which was typically played by trios or quartets comprised of one or two guitars (or other related stringed instrument such as the smaller requinto), with percussion provided by maracas and/or other instruments such as claves (hardwood sticks used for percussion), bongo drums, or a gourd güiro scraper. Sometimes a large thumb bass called marimba or marimbula was included as well. When bachata emerged in the early 1960s, it was part of an important subcategory of guitar music, romantic guitar music--as distinguished from guitar music intended primarily for dancing such as the Cuban son or guaracha--although in later decades, as musicians began speeding up the rhythm and dancers developed a new dance step, bachata began to be considered dance music as well. The most popular and widespread genre of romantic guitar music in this century, and the most influential for the development of bachata, was the Cuban bolero (not to be confused with the unrelated Spanish bolero). Bachata musicians, however, also drew upon other genres of música de guitarra that accomplished guitarists would be familiar with, including Mexican rancheras and corridos, Cuban son, guaracha, and guajira, Puerto Rican plena and jíbaro music, and the Colombian-Ecuadorian vals campesino and pasillo--as well as the Dominican merengue, which was originally guitar based.

"The Cuban bolero developed in the nineteenth century out of previously existing genres such as the danzón and the contradanza, from which it received its characteristic four-four time ... In the late nineteenth century a wave of Cubans fleeing the Wars of Independence (1895-98) migrated to the Dominican Republic, particularly the Cibao region ..., where they introduced Cuban music--the guaracha, rumba, and, of particular relevance to this study, son and bolero." (pg. 5)

"In the early twentieth century the Cuban bolero spread all over Latin America, where it was typically played by guitar-based duos, trios, and quartets. Over the course of the thirties, forties, and fifties, however, the Cuban bolero was elaborated into what John Storm Roberts (1985:23) calls an "international Latin" style, orchestrated with pianos and stringed and wind instruments, over time bearing less and less resemblance to its guitar-based antecedents. ...

"The Cuban bolero also took root in Mexico, where it developed into two styles: the more international variety was called romántico, danceable tunes played in the urban music hall; the bolero ranchero, on the other hand, was typically played by mariachi conjuntos, was sung only, and was associated with the rural segments of the population ... One of the most famous interpreters of the Mexican style of bolero was the Trío los Panchos, who played boleros rancheros in the early stages of their career but later adopted the more international style of bolero ..." (pg. 6)

"The Cuban son was also a staple in the repertoires of the guitar-based ensembles out of which bachata emerged. A hybrid of Afro-Cuban and rural Hispanic-derived genres, the son is said to have first appeared in eastern Cuba in the late nineteenth century..." (pgs. 6-7)

Deborah Pacini Hernandez. Bachata: A social history of a Dominican popular music. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. 1995

Bachata songs

None for now.

Bachata links

  • Bachata, by J. M. Hidalgo, for Arte Latino
  • EcoCumbé: "The EcoCumbé ensemble consists of twelve musicians and four dancers: percussion, guitar, bass, keyboard, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, voices and dancers. EcoCumbé performs original compositions inspired by the diverse folk music forms of the Dominican countryside."

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The vallenato and the cumbia are the national dances of Colombia. The vallenato is accordion-based music of the valleys of eastern Colombia.

Vallenato songs

  • MIDI: A mi Viejita (Vallenato, 57 Kb, viejita.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: La tierra del Olvido (Vallenato, 68Kb, tierraolvido.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Mal de Amores (Vallenato, maldeamores.mid, 78Kb, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Gota fría (vallenato, gotafria.mid, 108Kb, sequenced by Ulrich Wode)

Vallenato links

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The Cumbia is one of the most representative types of Colombian music. It is associated with the Caribbean coast. (Another main music type is the Vallenato, from the valley in the interior.) It is the result of African, Spanish, and Indigenous influences (cf. Origen de la Cumbia).


Yo me llamo Cumbia
La página de la música del Caribe Colombiano. See, for example, the Clasificación de la música colombiana and the Cumbia page ("que se baila suavesona"), which includes Origen de la Cumbia. Don't miss the links page.

All about Cumbia (UK)

Go to the Cumbia lyrics page

Cumbia songs

  • MIDI: La canoa (Cumbia, lacanoa.mid, 53 Kb, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Cumbia del Caribe (Cumbia, caribe.mid, 52 Kb, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Mi vieja Barranquilla (Porro, miviejabarranquilla.mid, 64Kb, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: La pollera Colorá (Cumbia, 66KB, lapollera.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Vino de Coyol (Cumbia from Costa Rica, vinodecoyol.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)

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"Brazil is a country with musical variety as vast as its geography. Samba and Bossa Nova are known world-wide but there are many other musical styles that are also worth exploring as well. Samba can mean a lot of things in Brazil. There are the sambas de enredo, the theme songs of Rio's Carnival parades which feature the large percussion sections or batucadas marching with hundreds of singers and dancers in escolas de samba or samba schools. However, most recordings feature the samba-cancão or samba-song, best represented by prominent singers from the samba schools like Martinho Da Vila, Beth Carvalho, Paulinho da Viola, Clara Nunes and others, who record in the studio with the same percussion instruments (but fewer!) and add other instrumentation like a seven-string guitar, a ukelele-like cavaquinho and, in general, employ more sophisticated arrangements. Of course, the samba rhythm permeates many styles of Brazilian music and many popular singers include sambas in their repertoire, but the artists above sing Samba almost exclusively."

Guide to Latin Music at CARAVAN MUSIC, by Micheal Crockett

Samba songs

  • MIDI: Felicita (samba, felicita.mid, 136Kb, sequenced by Ulrich Wode)

Samba links

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hotNueva canción

"Many South American countries are connected by the long chain of mountains known as the Andes Cordillera (Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador) and throughout this area have lived the Inca, Aymara and other indigenous peoples. Their music, like the mountains, has an ancient, mystical quality, especially the flutes and panpipes known as quenas and zampoñas. The Spanish conquest brought the guitar and harp and the shell of the armadillo became the material for a small mandolin-like instrument called the charango."

"The arrival of the Nueva Cancion (New Song) movement in the late 1960's brought about a revival of the traditional music of the Andes and infused it with lyrics that dealt with the ideals and struggles of the times (In Chile & Argentina dictatorships were brutally repressing democracy and musicians were often forced into exile or, in the case of the great Victor Jara, even tortured and killed). The most renowned exponents of Andean music today are veterans of that era-the Chilean ensemble Inti-Illimani. They have recorded traditional music, New Song, and original compositions using traditional instruments from all over Latin America."

Guide to Latin Music at CARAVAN MUSIC, by Micheal Crockett

Nueva canción songs

None for now

Nueva canción links

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Nueva Trova Cubana

Coming soon.

Nueva Trova songs

Coming soon.

Nueva Trova links

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"Argentina has many musical styles and traditions but none more famous than the tango, full of passion and musical elegance. The typical tango orchestra usually includes the bandoneon (a type of accordion), violin, piano and contrabass. Guitars are also sometimes used. Singer Carlos Gardel made the tango known world-wide in the 1930's. More recently a new style of tango was introduced (and not without some resistance from traditionalists) by the recently-deceased bandoneonista and composer Astor Piazzolla. Many of his nuevo tangos have jazz and modern classical influences."

Guide to Latin Music at CARAVAN MUSIC, by Micheal Crockett

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"Mexico has a great variety of musical traditions and styles. Mariachi music with its trumpets and violins is the most well-known internationally. There are also many regional folk styles which include: the son jarocho from coastal Veracruz, which usually features a harp. ("La Bamba" was originally a son jarocho); the son huasteco, a fiddle tradition from northeastern Mexico; marimba music from southern Mexico; and the corridos and rancheras of northern Mexico."
Guide to Latin Music at CARAVAN MUSIC, by Micheal Crockett

Mexican songs

  • MIDI: El rey (Ranchera, el_rey.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Zacateca (Ranchera, zacateca.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Boleros - mosaico (Bolero mix, boleros.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: El taconazo (Polka Norteña, eltaconazo.mid, sequenced by M. Cárdenas)

Mexican music links

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Bossa Nova

Bossa Nova Links

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Other links

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Other Latin American songs

  • MIDI: Lambada: Oyé mi canto (Lambada, oyemican.mid, 68KB, from Salsa Media Site)
  • MIDI: Soca: Piscina (Soca, 104Kb, from Salsa Media Site)
  • MIDI: Fina estampa (Vals, Peru, finaestampa.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Galopera (Vals/galopera, Paraguay, galopera.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Alma llanera (Joropo, Venezuela, almallanera.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Brasil (Samba, Brazil, brasil.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: El negrito del Batey (Ritmo: Merengue (República Dominicana) Tema: Cuba, elnegrito.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Samba de mi esperanza (Samba, Argentina, sambade.mid, sequenced by Jorge Villamizar)
  • MIDI: Ojos Azules (Huayno, Peru, ojosazules.mid, sequenced by Alain Beaudoin)
  • MIDI: La Saya Tradicional Boliviana con ritmo de Saya. (Donated by Gonzalo Muñoz of Chile, who writes: "La Saya, según tengo entendido, es un ritmo que nace en Bolivia y es la fusión de ritmos Afro-Bolivianos, que le dan su "sabor" caracteristico a este tipo de ritmos (La Saya también es un Baile muy vistoso y libre.")
  • MIDI: La fiesta de San Benito: Tradicional de la zona andina atribuida al Folcklore Boliviano con ritmo de Saya. (Donated by Gonzalo Muñoz of Chile.)

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All-Music Guide (part of All-Media Guide)

All-Music Guide
Music Essays: World
World styles; e.g. Afro-Beat, Afro-Jazz, Afro-Latin, Afro Pop, Andalus Classical, Apala, Bachata-Merengue, Bava, Belair, Belly Dancing, Bhangra, Biguine, Biguine Moderne, Biguine Vide, Bikutsi, Bolerito, Bossa Nova, Brazilian Pop, Bulgarian Folk, Cadence, Calypso, Carnatic, Ceremonial, Chants, Charanga, Chassidic, Chilean Folk, Chimurenga, Chouval Bwa, Compas, Conjunto, Contemporary Flamenco, Cuatro, Cubop, Cumbia, Dhrupad, Djabdong, Ethnic, Fado, Flamenco, Folklore, Forro, French Folk, Fuji, Gamelan, Georgian Choir, Giddha, Greek Folk, Greek Pop, Guaguanco, Gwo Ka, Gypsy, Hebrew, Highlife, Hungarian Folk, Indian Art Film Music, Indian Classical, Indian Pop, Indigenious, Inuit, Jaipongan, Japanese Orchestral, Jewish Folk, Jibaro, Jit, Joik, Juju, Kabuki, Kecak, Klezmer, Kora, Laika, Lambada, Latin Folk, Latin Soul, Macapat Poetry, Makossa, Mambo, Mantras, Marabi, Mariachi, Mbalax, Mbaqanga, Mbira, Mbube, Mbuti Choral, Mento, Merengue, Mini Jazz, Moravian Folk, MPB, Neo-Traditional, Norteño, Nueva Trova, Nyahbinghi, Omutibo, Panco, Party Soca, Plena, Pygmy, Qawwali, Quadrille, Quechua, Raga, Rai, Ranchera, Rapso, Rembetika, Rhumba, Rumba, Russian Folk, Salsa, Samba, Sarangi, Séga, Sharki, Soca, Social Commentary, Sonero, Soukous, Steel Band, Switzerland Folk, Taarab, Tango, Township Jazz, Traditional, Tropicalia, Tuvan Throat Singing, Vallenato, Vaudou, World Folk, Worldbeat. (cf. also Latin America; e.g. Afro-Colombia, Afro-Latin, Andes, Argentina, Bahia Belize, Bolivia, , Bouvet Island, Brazil, Brazilian Pop, Chile, Chilean Folk, Colombia, Conjunto Cuatro, Costa Rica, Cubop, Cumbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Forro, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jibaro, Lambada, Latin America, Latin Continuum, Latin Folk, Latin Soul, Mariachi, Mexico, MPB, Nicaragua, Norteño, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Plena, Quechua, Ranchera, Samba, South America, Surinam, Tango, Tropicalia, Uruguay, Vallenato, Venezuela.)

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Books on Latin American music

Caribbean Currents : Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae by Peter Manuel, Michael Largey (Contributor), Kenneth Bilby (Contributor). Paperback - 272 pages (August 1995) Temple Univ Press; ISBN: 1566393396. (At $18.36.)

The Latin Tinge : The Impact of Latin American Music on the United States by John Storm Roberts. Paperback - 288 pages 2nd edition (December 1998) Oxford Univ Pr (Trade); ISBN: 0195121015. (At $11.96.)

Listening to Salsa : Gender, Latin Popular Music, and Puerto Rican Cultures (Music/Culture) by Frances R. Aparicio. Paperback - 302 pages (November 1997) Wesleyan Univ Pr; ISBN: 0819563080. (At $19.95.)

Salsa: The Rhythm of Latin Music (Performance in World Music Series, No. 3) by Charley Gerard, Larry W. Smith (Editor), Marty Sheller, Lawrence Aynesmith (Editor). Paperback - 276 pages Rev Bk&Cd edition (August 1998) White Cliffs Media Co; ISBN: 0941677354. (At $19.96.)

Bachata : A Social History of Dominican Popular Music by Deborah Pacini Hernandez Paperback - 267 pages (June 1995) Temple Univ Press; ISBN: 1566393000. (At $22.95.)

Merengue : Dominican Music and Dominican Identity by Paul Austerlitz, Robert Farris Thompson. Paperback (December 1996) Temple Univ Press; ISBN: 1566394848. (At $18.36.)

Rumba : Dance and Social Change in Contemporary Cuba (Blacks in the Diaspora) by Yvonne Daniel. Paperback - 196 pages (June 1995) Indiana Univ Pr; ISBN: 025320948X. (At $10.36.)

The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. Washington DC: Macmillan Publishers. 1980

  • Manuel, Peter. 1988. Popular musics of the non-Western world. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Glasser, Ruth. 1995. My music is my flag: Puerto Rican musicians and their New York communities, 1917-1949. Berkeley - Los Angeles - London: University of California Press.
  • Guillermoprieto, Alma. 1990. Samba. New York: Vintage Books. ("The single best book ever written about the central place of music in the life of the Third World." --Washington Post, Book World)
  • Aros, Andrew. The Latin Music Handbook. Applause, 1978. The Latin American recording industry in the U.S.; discography and practical information.
  • Gerard, Charley. Salsa!: The Rhythm of Latin Music. White Cliffs Media, 1989. Documents a form usually known only to Hispanic musicians.
  • Roberts, John Storm. The Latin Tinge: The Impact of Latin American Music on the United States. Oxford, 1979. Original Music, n.d. Development of the tango, rumba, and mambo; discography and glossary.
  • Slonimsky, Nicolas. Music of Latin America. Crowell, 1945. Da Capo, 1972. Describes musical cultures of 20 Latin American republics with examples.

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    • Latin American Music Review
    • The world of music
    • Studies in Latin American Popular Culture
    • Popular Music

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    Last updated: May 1, 2000