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Tecnica e Didattica della musica Salsa

Techniques and Didactics of Salsa music

Technique and music education


It is important to know some basic musical concepts in order to better interpret the music to which we dance.
It consists of a succession of sounds according to their duration, their height and their intensity. It implies the notion of duration and therefore should be subject to the rhythm; draws its origins from natural inflections of the word, from exclamations, cries of humans or animals, all of which express the life and feelings.
The regular and constant succession of sound events.
His definition determines what kind of light music composition, in which the rhythmic Cadence prevail over melody, we are listening.
The bar (or measure):
Means the sum of the values contained in two vertical bar lines in music stave: this amount grows according to the appointed time.

1° 2° 3° Joke Joke Joke

PULSE (or pulse):
It is the unit element of the bar and is identified with .25 which can then be split into eighths, sixteenths, etc. or multiplied.

1) Expresses the speed of a song; If we listen to a song by counting how many lines are there in a minute, we determine its BPM rate (Bars Per Minute = beats per minute).
2) Determines the Division of beats in many musical movements alike.
For example the man walking (or rather the regular military March), features two identical movements that are repeated in regular cycles, i.e. in beats from 2/4.
We can also say that on the quarters more accented (strong movements) we have the "beat" while the remaining (weak movements) we have the "upbeat".

The concept of a musical phrase is twofold and very significant for the choreographer.
The first concerns the Group of 8, 16, 32 lines, also called period, during which you will have to take account of mixing the figures in a logical manner, like a sentence or a period written or spoken. Changing period you can, for example, after 8 bars pull the couple or get into a series of figures of different types, change direction, etc. How to highlight and then interpret the change of musical phrase.
The second is the concept of elementary sentence from 8, composed by a joke and the par immediately after, in a song played in 4/4, 2/4 or jokes. Count in 8 helps us to find the best time to start dancing and still run safeguards figures in phrase and not just in time.

(from the text "Caribbean Latin American Dances," that is valid for the attainment of the dancing master)



"SIN CLAVE NO YOU SALSA", this sentence alone is enough to underline the importance of clave in salsa and other Caribbean music in General. But what is the key?
Are two cylindrical sticks made of very hard wood, one of which can be larger and dug inside so you get more volume and a brighter sound.
Smitten among them (with skill) create a rhythmic figure also called her clave that can have two directions:
2/3 or 3/2 Clave clave, also called "clave overthrows" (although many do not know this second direction thinking and stating that "dance in clave" means dance solely on "2", not knowing that "dance in clave" also means dancing on "1", but fortunately it is a small minority).


4/4 | 1 2 3 4 | 5 6 7 8 |


4/4 | 1 2 3 4 | 5 6 7 8 |

X = clave flap

All the musicians playing "salsa" think, interpret and improvise as a function of the clave. Some examples are "cascara" (rhythmic figure played with the wand on the timbal), or the Bell, which at certain points in the song, play rhythmic figures that do understand the direction of clave rhythm and melody and all of the song suggest la clave (also a song already started …). There are also other rhythmic patterns of the clave for example
rumba Clave and the Brazilian clubs. Both can be found in some situations or entire songs like salsero.
The rumba delay of 3, while the third hit rate of .5 Brazilian delay of the second shot beat of 2 .5.
Another important tool is the CONGA, who typically plays a rap ("pa") to "2" and "6" and two deep shots ("cum") at "4e" and "8e".

(from the text "Caribbean Latin American Dances," that is valid for the attainment of the dancing master)



In music the unit of time is called a "joke". Each beat of the music is made up of 4 steps (beats). In salsa, most of the sentences (both in music and in dance) covers blocks of 2 beats, which means 8 steps.
Strong and weak beats. In musical terminology odd steps (n1 N1 n5 n7) are called strong beats. The other beats are called weak.
Music accents. The accents are known (or beats) stronger than the others. The distribution of accents is one of the factors that determines the rhythm of a piece of music. Here we introduce the most important difference between the Western pop music and Cuban music (that originated the sauce). In the majority of pop music strong steps and accents are the same. As you can see in the video, hands mark the accents in the music. Notice how the hand-clapping coincides with odd beats. That is why it is easy to "find the pace" in Western pop music. In many styles of music with African roots, the pace is more complicated. In the swing, for example, (notice the hand-clapping) accents are the weak beats and this is even clearer in reggae, one of the many forms of Caribbean music. In musical terms this is called syncopation. In Cuba the rhythm structure is even more complicated. It is based on the clave and other percussion instruments that are mixed and alternated each col more in mark both the steps that odd ones. This generates the Cuban style and is one of the factors that makes it difficult to a "Western" find the right rhythm in salsa. But first we explain in detail all these tools and how they are combined to give a look at the basic steps of salsa.

Musical instruments of Salsa
The soul of the Latin band consists of four instruments: conga, piano and double bass, clave, the latter two perform both a rhythmic harmonic. Here we analyze the percussion:
La Conga. In the most common rhythms of salsa, conga brand eight notes in a beat, distributed at regular intervals, with two notes per beat. The rhythmic sensation is generated by the distribution of accents. I mean the fact that some notes are stronger than others, as well as by the fact that the conga can generate notes of different pitch. Conga accents are equal (2 and 4) beat. Pulse 2 is marked by a high note intonation and a strong accent. The beat 4 is marked by two low pitch notes. The easiest way to recognize the rhythm in the conga is to identify these two notes. When the entire orchestra plays, it can be difficult to distinguish all the 8 notes of the conga.
La Clave. This is the heart of all forms of Cuban music. The basic layout of the clave is usually played in one of the following two forms-3 or 2-3 clave la clave-2. There are also other forms of clave but are less common in the sauce. In 2-3 clave the first beat of the music consists of 2 notes and the second bar of three (hence the name 2-3) and vice versa for the clave 3-2. Remember that a joke is made of 4 beats and unity of salsa music consists of 2 beats of music. Here we used only the 2-3 clave, but the explanation may also be applied to the clave 3-2.
The Guiro and the Bell. The guiro is not actually a fundamental tool of the sauce. But, when it is used in the arrangement of a song, it's very easy to follow and is of great help for beginner dancers. The pace of the guiro is very simple. Sounds a long tone 5 7 1, 3, beat, and Two short notes in the middle of each of these. So, what the dancer has to do is follow the long notes in order to recognize the musical rhythm. The basic rhythm of the drum (this beat is also often played by timbale player who marks the rhythm with a wand on the edge of timbale) covers two bars of music. It's pretty complex, beginning with two long notes and then proceeding with a scheme similar to that of the guiro but with accents distributed diversoe. It can also be played in other forms, so consider the rhythm in this video as an example. The easiest way to find the time you follow the long notes that 1, 3, 5, mark the key 7 and not get distracted by quick notes and accents.

Distinguish the 1 from 5
As stated before, in the sauce each bar consists of 4 beats and musical phrases of 2 blocks cover salsa beats, which means 8 beats. It then becomes important to understand when starting the first beat of the sequence of 2 lines. In other words, how to distinguish the 1 from 5. The dancers who love to dance "on 1" or "2." normally on. do not care much for this difference, but those of "NY2" are very picky about this topic.
Here are 3 tips on how to distinguish the 1 from 5, from more sophisticated than any easier:
1) If you know the music well, you can tell if the song is about 2-3 or 3-2 clave and the job is done!
2) In a slightly easier, most of salsa music is based on a structure based on "recall" and "reply", which originated from African traditions. The first bar is the "call" and the second is the "answer". La clave itself can be construed as a call and response between 2 and 3. The first bar sounds "unresolved", "unfinished", how should you hold your breath to get to second, that concludes. Let us beware, you'll recognize most of the songs of sauces.
3) Finally, the easiest but also less accurate. most of the Sung part on the first battuta.cos ì watch where the singer or the chorus part and in most cases this will indicate the first beat; But beware, this is a slightly sloppy and not always creative music is too because a rule so simple can always be applied.

Common mistakes-3 ways to be out of time
Now we understand what is the tempo of the music, how to listen and how to follow every single time salsa percussion instrument.
To learn how often we need to know where are the most common errors. Here we will describe the three most common ways of being "out of time", the most severe to least severe. Let us pay attention and see if you recognize at what level are:
Dancing completely out of time. This happens when the dancer is totally disconnected from the music. Does not feel the rhythm, misses the 1 or 2 and try to guess the time. Coordination with the partner becomes impossible. This is what we call "no dancing", the music and the movements have nothing in common. If you are in this category, it is perhaps better to do a few steps back. Concentrate on the music without dancing until the basic rhythm is unclear.
Dance too fast – more than music – and trying to chase the time. The dancer has a vague perception of music, but fails to recognize the correct timing. The wealth of percussion in salsa confuses the dancer who fails to "isolate" the basic rhythm.
Many percussion playing together create the overall impression of "speed". The dancer or ballerina dances too fast … sometimes you realize that and tried to take the correct timing. Try to isolate the time base. Use it to learn to count. Do not be ashamed to count while ballads, you're at the level where probably you need. Soon the count becomes automatic and you don't need. Going from this stage, although frustrating, make shorter the learning process. Maybe you think this slow down your learning, but if you solve the problem once and for all, your progress will be faster in the future. This will reward you for the lost time.
Dance at the right speed, but a bit early. This is the most common error and it happens to non-starters. Sometimes you see it even in experienced dancers. It is the least severe error and, because of this, even the most difficult to recognize and correct. The dancer recognizes music and basically dances at the right speed. However his steps are a fraction of a second. That is, do steps a little too early. How too soon? Our experience in studying the videos on salsa step by step taught us that being 1/10 of a second is early enough to be noticed. Our bodies are very sensitive to the weather. How do you feel? Probably it is perfectly normal for you, but your partner gives a sense of haste in dance … It gives the impression that he doesn't take the time to run the figures correctly. The dance is not relaxed. In a way your partner feels that he can't stay in the right time and not to complete the figures in the right way.

This is a mistake difficult to correct because the dancer fundamentally understands the music. You need to relax. Take time. You should try to force yourself to dance slower as you can. You have to force yourself to move after hearing the beat, rather than anticipate it. Try to dance in response to bat rather than "on the beat". If you are afraid to get to dance too slow or too late, don't worry … dance lenses too rarely happens, is often the exception to the rule.
Another common mistake: confusing strength with speed. Beginners sometimes confuse the tempo of a song, i.e. its speed, with the energy of the song. In salsa, an energetic music does not always mean fast music.

The right way: be timed
Generally, if you avoid these errors, i.e. If not too fast and not too slow ballads or anticipate the joke, your basic steps are probably correct. To get to this point is priority No. 1 for each salsa dancer, even before venturing into strange figures and learning paces. Once you got there, over time, you may proceed. The basic steps are just what the word means, basic steps, the first level of the sauce. Once you have completely understood the time of salsa, and you can follow it without counting, then you can free yourself from the constraint of having to follow the basic steps mechanically and can experience improvising the steps while you dance with your partner.
Try to improvise steps while running your figures. This is not easy to do and the first attempts can be frustrating, but if you learn to listen to the music properly, one fine day will start the spring. The crucial fact is to always know where the beat n. 1 and n. 2, so that regardless of what they do your feet, you will always be sincronizzai both with music with your partner. How do you tell if your steps are in time with the music? Imagine that your feet make a sound. The sound of feet goes in time with the music? If so, you're on the right step!

The importance of time "in the hands"
If you point to follow steps instinctively, your awareness of the time of the sauce needs to be further developed. Now you have to coordinate your movements with your partner to do the figures and, if you're a man, you need to know how to drive properly. You need not basiate about the steps to achieve this coordination. This is where you need to be always aware of knowing on what beat you. For example, the right turns are often made on 5, though ballads about 1. Your guide should begin on 3 or 4 to make it smooth. To guide these actions, you should always know what number you are. Your brain has to know automatically because you might be totally immersed in performing a figure. Here is where time has become second nature to you. But not only in the feet, even in the hands!

How to improve your sense of time
Now that you understand the concepts and theory of music, rhythm and dance in time, what you have to do is to put it into practice. Ultimately this depends on your determination, persistence and will. Instructors can teach you, but you are the ones who have to learn.
Here we give you 8 tips to put into practice what you've learned so far:
always 1) listen to salsa. There are two reasons why pop music is so natural. First, its rhythm is simpler. Second, you grew up with her, you have spent thousands of hours listening to it. And there is a reason why the sauce is so natural for the people of the Caribbean, grew up with her and they played for thousands of hours. You need to recover. Listen to salsa when and where you can: in the shower, in the car, when you do the housework. Day by day, you have to let it get into your brain. At first you will not notice the difference, but one day suddenly the spring will start.
2) dance with slow music. All beginners find it easier to stay in time with the music fast. The reason is simple, with the speed the errors you notice less. The breaks are shorter, and don't emphasize them can easily be hidden. Because beginners tend to dance faster music, find it easier to fast music. To improve your time you need to do the opposite. Practice with the slow music, very slowly, if at all possible. Try to dance salsa on the cha cha cha. You have to control your movements to be able to distinguish the subtleties of accents. Learn to enjoy the weather on every beat. Only when you will be at ease, you will proceed with the fast music. This is the rule that music students must follow when they learn to play an instrument, there is no reason that different in dance.
3) Count the beats. Do not be ashamed to count when you exercise or dance. Everyone learns at the tour starts to do so. It is essential to learn to distinguish the fundamental rhythm of salsa from the rest of the drums. Count as you hear the music and dancing.
4) Play or sing the percussion. This is the next step after you have learned how to count. Try dancing while playing a percussion, the clave is the best choice. Try to sing, the conga or la clava, or table when you exercise with the basic steps or while listening to salsa. This will teach you how to isolate it and to "find it" within the music. You will then be able to hear him and dancing in a nightclub.
5) never, ever practice figure out time! Sometimes you may find yourself try a figure you have just learned and you may be tempted to do the movements without the musical beats, maybe because you want to be sure to remind you of the figure. Practice never doing a dance move out of time, whether at home, in a lecture or at a club. If you need to try a figure slowly, do it at half speed. If you don't have your music with you, count the beats. Train your brain to associate always dance with the music, the movements with the beat.
6) dance with people who can keep time. This might sound a little cruel to beginners, but nothing helps your ear at the right time better than dancing with advanced people, and nothing hurts more than dancing with others who can't keep time. The errors are reinforced and more difficult to eliminate. Be gentle with the good dancers and try to practice with them. When you become good, remember this and be gentle with beginners dancing sometimes with them.
7) exercise. And don't expect to learn salsa without exercise. Not succederea. Whether you want to learn the nuclear physics, play piano or dance salsa, pursuit and practice are essential!
8) and the latest tip. Any figure or ornament do, don't forget to dance!

About Stefano Bognolo

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