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Latin American: 1-2-ChaChaCha

Aug 17, 2007
Music has played a central role in Latin America's turbulent recent history like for example the nueva cancion movement. Latin American music, sometimes referred to as just Latin music, includes the music of many countries and communities and comes in many varieties, from the simple, rural conjunto music of northern Mexico to the sophisticated habanera of Cuba, from the symphonies of Heitor Villa-Lobos to the simple and moving Andean flute. Latin music is varied, with the only truly unifying thread being the use of the Spanish language or, in Brazil, its close cousin the Portuguese language. Latin music is a catch-all term for a number of diverse styles from different regions and countries in Latin America.

Often, the term refers to Latin pop -- either dance-based or pop oriented-music sung in Spanish or Tejano. Tejano has a number of different styles, from romantic ballads to the narrative nortenos, and they're usually performed by large groups, armed acoustic instruments and horns and by the '80s and '90s, it also had embraced smooth production techniques from American pop-rock and soft rock. Latin America is also known for such vivacious dance music as salsas and sambas, which have layers of percussion, blaring horns and an infectious sense of style. Still more Europeanized forms (individual songs, genres, and their dance steps) have become popular on the "pan-Latin" and international level through their diffusion by mass media. These include the BOLERO and chachacha of Cuba, the TANGO of Argentina, and the cabaret samba and bossa nova of Brazil. With the exception of tejano and mariachi, most Latin music is defined by its strong rhythmic chords.

Although Spain isn't a part of Latin America, Spanish music (and Portuguese music) and Latin American music strongly cross-fertilized each other, but Latin music also absorbed influences from English and American music, and particularly, African music. In Latin music, culminates the styles of different music techniques.

Instrumental music is more significant among South American Indians than those of the North as they use indigenous instruments that include flutes, whistles, rattles, trumpets of simple clay, bark or bamboo, conch-shell trumpets and various drum types including the double-headed frame drum. Instruments often have ritual significance, particularly bullroarers, stamping tubes, pellet-bells, bark trumpets and certain flutes. Some of the most complex music of Latin America is practiced in the Andean region, where harps, guitars, violins, lutes and other European instruments are played as well as indigenous flutes and panpipes. Latin Music has come to become World Music.
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