Rhythm and Blues
Latin music, or Latin American music, is a wide and popular musical genre that encompasses the styles of music that come from Latin American countries, the Caribbean, Spain and even Portugal; these include the Tango from Argentina, the Conjunto from Northern Mexico, the Bolero from Cuba, and Samba and Bossa Nova from Brazil, among many others. There are also varieties of Latin music that come from Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Puerto Rico. A defining characteristic of pieces in this genre is the highly syncopated rhythmic structures upon which they are built. Popular Latin artists and Latin bands include Gloria Estefan, Roberto Carlos, Celia Cruz, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Selena, Jennifer Lopez, Julio Iglesias, Elza Soares, Vicente Fernandez, Enrique Iglesias, and Gilberto Gil.
What is Latin Music?Latin music is a genre of music that is as tough to define as any other – because it can be described according to geographic origins, stylistic forms, language, or subgenres. Every island, after all, has its own unique musical culture. Central to Latin music, however, is highly syncopated rhythmic structures: various rhythms are being played and crossed simultaneously to create an exciting call-and-response counterpoint against each other. Usually, Latin music is based on the clave, a three-two rhythmic pattern wherein the weak beats are accentuated instead of the strong ones. It also synthesizes European, African, and indigenous music elements – expressed through the use of percussions.
A Brief History of Latin MusicLatin music emerged as part of the Afro-Caribbean cultural amalgam that influenced the Western hemisphere south of the United States. The Moors of North Africa, the Roma, the Jews, and the Spanish Christians were all responsible for the conception of Latin music and the development of a unique art form that featured the use of drums not only for recreation and entertainment, but as a means of communication. And there were various musical movements that originated from and were carried by this need to communicate via drums. From Mexico emerged Mariachi and Ranchera; from Cuba, the rumba, danzon, bolero, and salsa; from Puerto Rico, the bomba and plena; from Dominican Republic, the merengue and bachata; and from Brazil, bossa nova. But there are commonalities shared by these different movements: they incorporated blues intonation, African drums and rhythms, Indian cymbals, European instruments, harmony, and syncopated, jazz-influenced beats to spawn musical styles that would now be considered Latin music. Now, the genre has evolved to become even more dance-oriented and pop-based – with pieces that can either be romantic ballads or infectious dance melodies.
Latin Artists and Bands from the subgenres of Latin MusicOne of the most popular and beloved subgenres of Latin music is that which comes from Cuba. With unique ballads and forms whose roots can be traced to salsa, Afro-Cuban music owes much of its popularity to Latin artists and bands such as Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz, and the Buena Vista Social Club. Others who have contributed to the evolution and mainstream popularity of Salsa are Marc Anthony, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Johnny Pacheco, Hector Lavoe, Grupo Niche, and Gilberto Santa Rosa. In Brazil, meanwhile, Latin artists like Stan Getz, Roberto Carlos, Joao Gilberto, and Elza Soares have made a name for themselves with the joyous sounds of samba and bossa nova.
Latin music from the Dominican Republic is best exemplified by the sexy and suggestive styles prevalent in Latin records by Domenic M, Andy Andy, Grupo Fuego, Juan Luis Guerra, and Tono Rosario. In Argentina, from where tango was first popularized, Latin artists like are Luis Bravo, Carlos Gardel, the GoTan Project, Astor Piazzolla, Fito Paez, and Celia Cruz are as top of mind as other Latin artists and bands. On the other hand, when talking about Mexican popular music, Latin artists such as Selena, Los Kumbia Kings, and Los Tigres del Norte are considered as the names on top of the list.
But perhaps the most well-known Latin artists and bands today are those who have fused indigenous styles with pop, rock, or urban elements like reggaeton and hip-hop. They have also made most of the best-selling Latin records and Latin albums in the world. Among those who have brought Latin music to the forefront in this way are Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Julio Iglesias, Enrique Iglesias, Tego Calderon, Yerba Buena, Shakira, Paulina Rubio, and Alejandro Sanz.
Latin Music Record LabelsRecord labels commonly associated with Latin music include Latin (Selena, Flex, Pepe Aguilar), Universal (Enrique Iglesias, Luis Fonsi, Valentin Elizalde), and Norte (Marc Anthony, Calle 13, Franco de Vita).
Latin Records and Latin CDsReady to sing and dance? Feeling the heat of Latin music? Gloria Estefan CDs, Roberto Carlos CDs, Celia Cruz CDs, Ricky Martin CDs, Marc Anthony CDs, Selena CDs, Jennifer Lopez CDs, Julio Iglesias CDs, Elza Soares CDs, Vicente Fernandez CDs, Enrique Iglesias CDs, among other Latin records and Latin CDs by Latin bands and artists from South America, the Caribbean and the world over are available at MusicStack. Latin vinyl LPs are also available.
Popular Latin Artists