Jamhouse Blog

Latin Music – The origins.

Latin music has a unique sound that is instantly recognisable and enjoyable. It is distinct in its instrumental and vocal sound. But in contrast, to define those particular sounds and where they come from is quite a feat indeed. This is because, like many other music genres, Latin music is a combination, or rather a fusion of other developing musical genres. The question that remains; where does Latin music come from?

Most academic sources, including Clontare Music, can agree that Latin music originates from three cultures: Indigenous, Spanish-European and African. But more so than that, Latin music as we know it today was one of the positives that came out of the Columbus landing. But before this, the Indigenous music was fully developed and thriving within the culture. As with many Indigenous cultures from Australia, America and Canada, indigenous music was not only used for pleasure and celebration. The primary belief was that the percussion focused music would bring fortune and good crop growth for the season. This music was tribal in sound and focused heavily on beats and percussion and was a long time tradition in the culture.

This all changed when the Americas took over the culture. Several sources including Contare Music and Carlos Quintana, agree that much of the culture of the Indigenous people was stamped out to make way for the new. Some say that the instruments were the first to go, with the instruments being smashed or burned in order to make a statement. Others say that language was the first to be stamped out to make way for the Spanish and Portuguese languages, and this made way for Latin music to develop into an unforseen beauty, despite the tragedy of its origins. Regardless of the order of events, this devastation took away something, but it also gave new ideas, new instruments and something to make music about.

Like many parts of Europe, slaves also played a big part in their culture, and therefore their musical development. And the influence of the African slaves is another big contributor to Latin Music. This also influenced the dance styles associated with this music, most notably the Rumba.

And alas if we could ever find a time in a musical genre where it was developed and cemented, these three contributions would be it. But as we all know, music doesn’t stop growing and changing, and even Latin music has influenced other music’s since its inception; but that’s a whole other story.

 Author:  D. Whelan for Jamhouse Creative
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