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Salsa Today

The term salsa refers to a vibrant and dynamic1 Puerto Rican dance music that blends African, Spanish, Cuban and Puerto Rican musical sounds, sometimes with jazzy arrangements. The music can be: fast2 and upbeat or slow and mellow. The bands or orchestras combine tight ensemble work with inspiring solos.

Some interesting new developments have recently emerged3 among salsa percussionists around the world. They have been mixing rhythms and experimenting with instruments, not traditionally associated4 with salsa music. Furthermore, Cuban influences have emerged and are contributing to a new style of playing salsa that is different from the traditional Puerto Rican interpretation, which is an established part of Puerto Rican culture.5

This new movement is very healthy for salsa percussionists since it forces musicians to stay on top of his or her6 form, both technically and from the creative point of view7, particularly in the art of improvisation. It has also given a number of great percussionists the freedom to develop their own style with new ideas and rhythms. Among these are talents such as Anthony Carrillo, Georgie Padilla, and especially Giovanni Hidalgo, who has been a source of great musical inspiration to others. [8]

It is important to understand that in order to create a new rhythm or style, musicians must be familiar with the fundamentals of the art and intimately9 with traditional rhythms of salsa. They must study the styles of the pioneers in order to have credibility and remain faithful to the musical form. However,10 this knowledge also gives them the confidence to be able to play with any group in any style, at any time.

Although these many elements are not always easy to assemble for live performances, it is certain that salsa music has attracted fans from all corners of the world.11 Salsa clubs have sprung up in cities as diverse and far from San Juan as Stockholm, Tokyo, Sydney, and Berlin. Salsa has become so popular around the world that salsa bands thrown together12 entirely of talented musicians and vocalists who are not Puerto Rican have emerged everywhere.

Salsa has undoubtedly made Puerto Rico famous in the world of international music.13 Salsa bands require access to a huge array of drums, including the güiro, bongos, timbales, conga, and clave. To add the jibaro touch, a clanging cow bell must also be added by the musicians.14 Of course, it also takes a bass, a horn section, a chorus and, a lead vocalist to give salsa the right sound. [15]