The instruments used in salsa music vary depending upon the specific genre and the geographic influence, but the basic salsa setup demands a brass section, piano and a rhythm section. The conga provides the driving rhythm of the music and comes in four different sizes: tumba, conga, quinto and requinto. So let’s get on with the background information on most of Salsa’s traditional instruments. Nina Makofsky has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. However, Latin America has embraced salsa and made it its own. This is a pair of round drums. The traditional one is made from a dried, hollowed out gourd with an open end. Bands playing Cuban music contrast with rock and roll bands. The musician holds these in the knees and played with the hands. Claves, a pair of short sticks made of special hardwood like ebony, are eight inches in length and one inch in diameter. The body of the tumbadora drum is made from elongated wood. Places such as Venezuela, Peru, Panama, Chile, Mexico and Colombia have adapted salsa, sometimes adding extra percussion and speeding up the core rhythm, and other times varying the beat to give space for vocals and soloists. Parallel notches are carved on one side of the gourd. The diameter of the Bongos – six and eight inches are the two sizes available. Salsa emerged from New York City in the mid-1970s, then spread throughout Latin America and the Western Hemisphere. The timbales, which are a derivation of the timpani, consists of a high-sounding series of instruments, including the chachacha bell, the salsa bell, the wood block and the cymbals. Salsa music, like many forms of Latin music, is defined foremost by the percussion. Differences Between American & Latin Music, Copyright 2020 Leaf Group Ltd. All Rights Reserved. The two drums are fastened together at the middle while the tops are covered by leather, stretched over the drums with a flame’s dry heat. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College. One sees the strongest elements of salsa music's African influence in the types of drums musicians play. In the 1950s, the bands in Havana were influenced by the American Swing bands and tended to have several musicians in the group and sometimes had about 13 members. It is a wooden box in just the right size for a musician to sit on. In all original Son bands, the Botijuela, sometimes called “bunga,” was used as a bass instrument. The combination of these instruments provide the multiple and unique rhythms influenced by the Cuban son (song) and music of Africa. From these elements musicians create a singular sound representing a fusion of African and Spanish traditions. Like the rest of the instruments, the timbales are very important to Latin American music. The key to salsa instrumentation is the beat, so percussion instruments are diverse and often numerous. Cuban music players sometimes use two cowbells, one large and one small, to produce two very distinct sounds. Other salsa instruments include the vibraphone, marimba, bass, guitar, violin, piano, accordion, and flute, and a brass section of trombone, trumpet, and saxophone. Timbales or pailas are two drums. She specializes in art, pop culture, education, travel and theater. The güiro can likewise produce long and short sounds depending on how the notches are scraped up and down. As of late, in modern salsa, electronics are added to the mix. We are Rhythm™. Salsa is an umbrella term for various Latin Caribbean and Cuban musical forms. She currently serves as a Mexican correspondent for "Aishti Magazine," covering everything from folk art to urban trends. Like the other instruments such as the claves and the bongos, the tumbadora is very vital to Latin rhythms, as it produces the Afro-Cuban rhythms that are very much a part of Salsa music. They also often needed a music director for their performances. Salsa has lit up the globe. So let's get on with the background information on most of Salsa's traditional instruments. To know Salsa music is to know its instruments, so you can learn to distinguish the different sounds and follow the beats better, particularly the claves. When played with the fingertips, the keys produce different notes. It is a vital part of the Latin rhythmic styles, including Rumba and Conga and an instrument that is absolutely necessary for all Cuban rhythms. A short metal or wooden stick is used to strike the cowbell. It produces strong rhythms because it is made of hard metal. It rises above all the other instruments and the particular sound that not only carries the music’s rhythm, but also guides the dancers’ steps and conducts the melody. The cowbell is also called the cencerro. The diameter of the larger drum is 14 inches and located at the left while the right drum is 13 inches in diameter. Its shell is made of metal and also produces a different sound when struck by the sticks. The güiro is very common in Latin American, Cuban and Puerto Rican music. Timbales are tuned higher, with the rhythmic sound produced by hitting it with 12-inch long uniform sized sticks (not the regular shaped drumsticks). It is also very essential in playing conga rhythms that is why the tumbadora is also referred to as conga drum. A salsa orchestra typically features the same instruments as in a jazz band: baritone, tenor and alto saxophones; a trumpet section; a trombone section; piano; an electric or upright bass; and the percussion section, which may feature conga drums, bongos, claves, cowbells, cascaras, cymbals and timbales. It somewhat resembles the modern beat box or cajón. At the heart of Salsa music is percussion and it’s the reason why a typical Salsa band has a few musicians playing the congas, timbales, cowbells, bongos, maracas, claves, marimba and vibraphone. By the early 1950s, th… To know Salsa music is to know its instruments, so you can learn to distinguish the different sounds and follow the beats better, particularly the claves. For over half a century, LP has crafted classic percussion instruments as well as patented hundreds of improvements and new designs for musical instruments that meet the exacting standards of professional musicians. Latin Percussion®. Havana, Cuba has a plethora of happening spots, from the clubby Cafe Cantante Mi Habana and the big time Casa de la Musica de Centro Habana to the after-hours spot Salon Piano Bar Delirio Habanero and the open-air Salon El Chevere.