A secret male society in Cuba. The abakwa is also a polyrhythmic 6/8 pattern that is usually played with sticks on a wooden surface or on the side of a drum. It can also be incorporated into one of the conga parts.
Timbale pattern used to setup figures and to open and close sections. Spanish word for fan.
Sometimes heard at the beginning of a song, the aleteo is a build-up of notes which serves to introduce the rhythmic section.
Third (or swing) section of the merengue rhythm.
A popular Afro-Cuban 6/8 feel. Originating from the word bembes. which are religious gatherings that include drumming, signing and dancing.
Bongo player.
The Spanish word for shell and a rhythmic pattern, played on the side of the timbale. The cascara is played in salsa during verses and softer sections of the music.
A popular musical style created in Cuba, played at first by the Cuban charanga bands.
A popular Cuban musical style featuring violins, flute and rhythm section.
A spanish word meaning key, the clave is serving as a skeletal rhythmic figure around which the different drums and percussion are played. The rhythm is often played with two wooden sticks called the claves. Whether played or not, it is implied throughout the music. Check out the clave patterns page.
Style of rumba played in 6/8 and sung with a combination of Spanish and African phrases.
A group dance of African roots, developed mainly in Cuba. Its rhythm is also called conga, and it's played and danced during Carnivals in Cuba.
Congas player.
A European influenced ballroom dance played by the Cuban charangas. The danzon orchestras played refined dance music for the upper class (waltzes, fox trots, danzon, etc.)
It means to jam. Here the musicians improvise or jam as the montuno section is being played. The percussion section may start its descarga or it may enter into a musical dialogue with the horn section or with the other members in the group. Not only limited to the percussion section in wich congas, timbales, drumset or other percussion instruments may play, but also to the piano player who may play his/her section within the montuno. The descarga is not limited to the son montuno, it is also used alot in salsa, happening usually during the middle to the end of the piece, in wich the coro or vocal section that repeats a phrase over and over above the descarga improvises. Here the singer may, off the top of his/her head talk about the issues of the day, another band member or anything else the vocalist may deem important. The descarga can happen within a formal or informal setting. [Thanks to Vicky Stone for this entry.]
A form of rumba popular in Cuba.
Most commonly referred to as a repeating section of a song, also known as montuno. It is often mistaken for a specific type rhythm or song form. The dance done during this part of the music also became known as the mambo.
A brisk dance from Dominican Republic.
Signer who sings merengue.
Horn section patterns often written, but sometimes improvised.
Musician who is adept at developing moņas.
Call and response section of the salsa.
The quinto is the smallest of the conga drums.
Informal "get-together" combining African drumming and Spanish or African vocal traditions with improvised dancing and singing. Rumba also refers to the rhythms played at these gatherings. Those rhythms (guaguanco, columbia and yambu) are played on three congas and / or cajon.
One important form the the merging of African and Spanish influences resulted in, it is the root of most familiar styles of Afro-Cuban dance music. A blend of the music of the spanish farmers (campesinos) and African slaves, it is believed to have originated in Oriente (the eastern province of Cuba) toward the end of the 19th century (slavery was abolish in 1878). It was played by small bands, using guitar or tres, maracas, guiro, claves, bongo, a marimbula and a botija. The more urban style played in Havana at the beginning of the century became a national style in 1920.
Improvised lyrics and melody sung during a montuno.
Signer that is able to create soneos.
First named so during the 60's, the salsa was popularized by the record industry in the mid-70's to categorize the sensuous and hot Latin dance music of the time : Mambo, Chachacha, Guaguanco and Guajira. The salsa style features "hot" arrangements of horn-based ensembles. Read the Rhythms of Salsa by Vincente.
Signer who sings salsa.
A popular musical style created in Cuba, featuring drumset and many new rhythms. Electric bass, keyboards and modern arrangements are also featured.
Timbales player.
Tres golpes
Name of both the middle drum and the part it plays in rumba guaguanco.
Repeating phrases played by the bass and tumbadora.
One of the three most popular forms of Cuban rumba.


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