Latin American music

Latin American musicians
Latin American musicians

Latin American music is the term used when referring to music from the Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries of Mexico, most of Central and South America, and the Caribbean islands.

These countries were once part of the Spanish and Portuguese empires. The music is also influenced by the songs and music of African slaves who were transported to Latin American countries by European settlers involved in the slave trade.

Music and dance are very important elements of the Latin American culture. Getting together for social gatherings such as weddings, birthdays, births, baptisms, holidays and festivals always consists of music and dance.

Latin American music can often be recognised by the percussion instruments used. Many ensembles use:

  • bongo drums
  • congas - tall drums played with the hand
  • claves - two rounded sticks hit together
  • shakers
  • scrapers
  • cowbells
  • a variety of small drums played with sticks

Ostinato (or riff) and improvisation frequently feature on these instruments.

The video below reflects the links between African and Latin American music.

Salsa Celtica play Latin American music including bongo drums