Salsa music is a general term referring to a genre that is essentially Cuban and Puerto Rican popular dance music. The term ''salsa'' was initially promoted and marketed in New York City during the 1970s. Salsa comprises various musical genres including the Cuban son montuno, guaracha, chachachá, mambo, and to a certain extent bolero. Salsa is the product of genres such as the Puerto Rican bomba and plena. Latin jazz, which was also developed in New York City, has had a significant influence on salsa arrangers, piano guajeos, and instrumental soloists.〔Gerard 1989, pp. 8–9. "From jazz came a harmonic vocabulary based on extended harmonies of altered and unaltered ninths, elevenths and thirteenths, as well as quartal harmony—chords built on fourths. These harmonic devices entered salsa in the piano styles of Eddie Palmieri and the Puerto Rican Papo Lucca. They would take traditional piano figures based on simple tonic-dominant harmony and elaborate them with modern harmonies. These modern harmonies are now a staple of salsa arrangers such as Marty Sheller and Oscar Hernández."〕
Salsa is primarily Cuban son, itself a fusion of Spanish canción and guitar and Afro-Cuban percussion, merged with North American music styles such as jazz. Salsa also occasionally incorporates elements of rock, R&B, and funk.〔Morales 2003, p. 33. Morales writes that "While many Afro-Cuban music purists continue to claim that salsa is a mere variation on Cuba's musical heritage, the hybridizing experience the music went through in New York from the 1920s on incorporated influences from many different branches of the Latin American tradition, and later from jazz, R&B, and even rock." Morales' claim is confirmed by Unterberger's and Steward's analysis.〕 All of these non-Cuban elements are grafted onto the basic Cuban son montuno template when performed within the context of salsa.〔Mauleón 1993, p. 215. Mauleón codifies this approach with examples of bomba, plena, and merengue arrangements for salsa ensemble. When adapting these non-Cuban rhythms to salsa it is common to alter them in order to fit into the Cuban template. For example, Mauleón's merengue chart includes clave, which is essential to Cuban popular music, although it is not a component of the traditional Dominican rhythm.〕
The first salsa bands were predominantly "Nuyorican" (New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent) or Puerto Ricans who moved to New York.〔Boggs 1992, pp. 187-193〕〔Hutchinson 2004, p. 116. Hutchinson says salsa music and dance "both originated with Cuban rhythms that were brought to New York and adopted, adapted, reformulated, and made new by the Puerto Ricans living there."〕〔Catapano 2011. "Although a great number of New York's stars and sidemen in the 1970s were Puerto Rican, the basic musical elements of salsa were derived mainly from Cuba."〕 The music eventually spread throughout Colombia and the rest of the Americas.〔Manuel, ''Popular Music of the Non-Western World'', p. 46〕 Ultimately, it became a global phenomenon. Some of the founding salsa artists were Johnny Pacheco (the creator of the Fania All-Stars), Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Larry Harlow, Roberto Roena, Bobby Valentín, Eddie Palmieri, and Héctor Lavoe.〔Unterberger, p. 50〕
==Salsa as a musical term==
''Salsa'' means 'sauce' in the Spanish language, and carries connotations of the spiciness common in Latin and Caribbean cuisine.〔Waxer 2002, p. 6〕 In the 20th century, ''salsa'' acquired a musical meaning in both English and Spanish. In this sense ''salsa'' has been described as a word with "vivid associations."〔Steward 2000, p. 488. Celia Cruz said, "salsa is Cuban music with another name. It's mambo, chachachá, rumba, son... all the Cuban rhythms under one name."〕 Cuban and Dominican immigrants and Puerto Rican in New York have used the term analogously to swing or soul music. In this usage ''salsa'' connotes a frenzied, "hot" and wild musical experience that draws upon or reflects elements of Latin culture, regardless of the style.〔Jones and Kantonen, 2000. "The word ''salsa'' ('spicy sauce') had long been used by Cuban immigrants as something analogous to the term ''swing''."〕〔Manuel 1990, (p. 46 ). "On one level, as Singer and Friedman note, salsa is to Latinos as 'soul' is to blacks; salsa—literally, 'hot sauce'—spicy, zesty, energetic, and unmistakably Latino."〕
Various music writers and historians have traced the use of ''salsa'' to different periods of the 20th century. Max Salazar traces the word back to the early 1930s, when Ignacio Piñeiro composed "Échale salsita", a Cuban ''son'' protesting tasteless food.〔Salazar 1991; Waxer 2002, p. 6; Morales 2003, pp. 56–59. Morales dates the song to 1932.〕 While Salazar describes this song as the origin of ''salsa'' meaning "danceable Latin music", Ed Morales describes the usage in the same song as a cry from Piñeiro to his band, telling them to increase the tempo to "put the dancers into high gear".〔Morales 2003, p. 56〕 Morales claims that later in the 1930s, vocalist Beny Moré would shout ''salsa'' during a performance "to acknowledge a musical moment's heat, to express a kind of cultural nationalist sloganeering (to celebrate the ) 'hotness' or 'spiciness' of Latin American cultures".〔 World music author Sue Steward claims ''salsa'' was originally used in music as a "cry of appreciation for a particularly piquant or flashy solo".〔 She cites the first use in this manner to a Venezuelan radio DJ named Phidias Danilo Escalona;〔〔Waxer 2002, p. 6; Rondón 1980, p. 33〕 In 1955 Cheo Marquetti created a new band called Conjunto Los Salseros and recorded some new songs ( Sonero and Que no muera el son ).In 1955 José Curbelo recorded some others salsa songs (La familia, La la la and Sun sun sun ba bae).
The contemporary meaning of ''salsa'' as a musical genre can be traced back to New York City Latin music promoter Izzy Sanabria:〔Boggs 1992, pp. 187-193.〕
"In 1973, I hosted the television show ''Salsa'' which was the first reference to this particular music as ''salsa''. I was using (term ) ''salsa'', but the music wasn't defined by that. The music was still defined as Latin music. And that was a very, very broad category, because it even includes mariachi music. It includes everything. So salsa defined this particular type of music... It's a name that everyone could pronounce."〔Boggs 1992, p. 190〕
Sanabria's ''Latin New York'' magazine was an English language publication. Consequently, his promoted events were covered in ''The New York Times'', as well as ''Time'' and ''Newsweek'' magazines. They reported on this "new" phenomenon taking New York by storm—''salsa''.〔Boggs 1992, p. 192. Izzy Sanabria: "In Santo Domingo... they told me that they don't recognize a Dominican artist as having made it in New York City unless a photograph and something written on this artist appears in ''Latin New York''. I said 'but why?' And what he said: 'Because we consider ''Latin New York'' a North American publication.' You see what I mean? In other words, it's an American publication. It was in English. So because it was in English, because it was from America, then it's legitimate. That in a sense, was the major impact of ''Latin New York''."〕
But promotion certainly wasn't the only factor in the music's success, as Sanabria makes clear: "Musicians were busy creating the music but played no role in promoting the name salsa."〔Izzy Sanabria 2005〕 Johnny Pacheco, the creative director, and producer for Fania Records, molded New York salsa into a tight, polished and commercially successful sound. The unprecedented appeal of New York salsa, particularly the "Fania sound," led to its adoption across Latin America and elsewhere.
Globally, the term salsa has eclipsed the original names of the various Cuban musical genres it encompasses. Ironically, Cuban-based music was promoted more effectively worldwide in the 1970s and 1980s by the salsa industry, than by Cuba. For a brief time in the early 1990s a fair number of Cuban musicians embraced the term, calling their own music ''salsa Cubana''.〔Mauleón 1999, p. 80〕 The practice did not catch on however.
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