History of Salsa Music


For sure you have heard Salsa music and probably have seen Salsa dancers. Perhaps you even are passionate about Salsa and learning how to dance this vibrant exciting dance socially. Well have you ever wondered why is it called Salsa… like the sauce 😀 ? Ever had the curiosity to dig into Salsa history?

What is Salsa Music

Salsa music is a generic term for upbeat, danceable Latin music with a strong, distinct beat called the clave.

Origins of Salsa Music

You probably concluded from its upbeat tempo, complex rhythms and lively lyrics that Salsa music has Latin origins.

Here’s a guess:

Which country do you think is where Salsa music originated from?

The most obvious candidate to claim Salsa music is Cuba, known for its traditional Latin music varieties that mix African beats with European melodies.

Let’s look into Historical Facts:

During the 1940s and 50s, Cuban musicians had a huge influence on the New York music scene. They brought the Afro-Cuban Son music into the USA.
However, when Fidel Castro came into power, diplomatic relations fell apart between Cuba and the US. This stopped Cuban musicians from travelling to the US. Also, Cuban music was no longer played on air on US radio stations.

In the 1960s, Musicians in New York combined the Afro-Cuban style with American Jazz, popular at that time, to create a Caribbean jazz sound. This sound was stronger than most American jazz styles, and thus was embraced by artists across the Caribbean and the US, especially among Puerto Riccans in New York. So Puerto Riccans in both New York and Puerto Rico took this Cuban-inspired Latin jazz sound and refined it, adding to it their own native sounds, percussion and ideas.

Why is it Named “Salsa”?

Interesting facts
Bands used to play Salsa music live in lounges, pubs and nights during the 1960s. When a song started, the bandleader would shout “Salsa!” to liven up the crowd. It is not known who started this practice, but by the end of 1960s, the term “Salsa” was being correlated with the lively music played.

Other reasons include the fact that the musical genre is a combination of multiple instruments and musical styles. So as the Salsa: for sauce suggests a mix of different elements, so does it suggest when applying it to the music genre.


Have fun in this section!

Check the instruments you hear when listening to Salsa music (in general which instruments are used, not a specific song)



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