The history of Cuban music is shaped through the passion of the people and musicians. Understanding their rich language of rhythms and harmony on any instrument, let alone guitar, is both a deep ocean to explore and an island of soul. Many great musicians grow up immersed in the style and culture. However, even if you learn just from listening and playing you can internalize the sense of groove and pocket, and it will come out in your listening, playing, and writing. I played in a Latin band called Umbalaye for several years in Los Angeles under the guidance of my friend and bandleader Jose Espinosa. I hope to share some of what I learned with you here.
First, a little history. Afro-Cuban music was created when African slaves arrived in Cuba, where the two cultures met, and the richness of Spanish harmony blended with the African rhythms to create what we call salsa music. Afro-Cuban music has had a vast influence globally through Puerto Rico, Miami, New York, and through such South American countries as Panama, Columbia, and Venezuela. These cultures each had their own interpretations that often influenced each other. In the 1930s, Afro-Cuban music had a major impact on jazz, and since then, salsa has profoundly influenced pop music, blues, soul, and even rock styles.
Create engaging rhythms by combining montunos, claves, tumbaos, and more.