Term Definition
aguinaldo folkloric music typically associated with Christmas
bastonero a danza director who decided how many couples would dance on each dance and the position of each dancer
bolero a slow, lyrical musical genre, referred to as a ballad in English, that is sung and danced and completely different from the Spanish counterpart. The bolero appeared in the last part of the 19th century. For a complete description, see the bolero genre page
bomba a music genre for dance unique to Puerto Rico but with roots in Africa; also a barrel-shaped drum of Afro-Puerto Rican origin, similar to but shorter than the Cuban tumbadora (conga drum). See complete description on the bomba page.
bombardino a brass musical instrument that sounds similar to a trombone; typically used in danzas See complete description on the instruments page.
bongos a percussion musical instrument consisting of two small drums attached to each other and played while held between the knees. The bongos were developed from similar African drums. Originally, the bongo's drum heads (skins) were tacked-on, but later a system of tuneable hardware was attached. Bongos today are made of fiberglass as well as wood See complete description on the instruments page.
bordonua a musical instrument adapted from classical Spanish guitar and often used to perform a "seis", either with or as a compliment to a guitar
buleador low-pitched bomba drums providing supporting rhythm in a bomba
conga a type of drum, also known as the tumbadora, adapted from Africa; originating as a solid, hollowed log with a nailed-on skin. Eventually, tuneable hardware was added and today, conga drums are made out of fiberglass as well as wood. See complete description on the instruments page.
cha-cha-cha A very rhythmic genre of music for singing and dancing, and derived from the early Cuban danzón-mambo. It was created by violinist Enrique Jorrín, who named the style upon hearing the scraping sounds of dancers'feet. The cha-cha-chá eventually became a separate musical style based on the montuno section of the danzón with congas.
The cha-cha-cha dance rhythm is accented evenly on all four beats in every bar. It also tends to have an accent on the "and" of beat four (4+). Typically mid-tempo the rhythm is about 100-140 beats per minute.
First popularised by the charanga bands of the 1950's.
conjunto A specific style of instrumentation developed around 1940, derived from the septeto ensemble, consisting of guitar, tres, contrabass, bongos, three vocalists (who play hand percussion such as maracas and claves), and two to four trumpets. The piano and the tumbadora were added by legendary tres player Cuban Arsenio Rodriguez
clave Clave has two meanings:
It is the name given to two sticks palyed against each other to provide rhythm in many Latin music genres.
It is also the name of a particular rhythm that is produced with those sticks. A five-note, bi-measure pattern which serves as the foundation for all of the rhythmic styles in salsa music. The more common variation is the 3/2 clave (3 beats on the first bar and 2 on the second) and widely used in many afro-Latin music genres, inclusing salsa. The less common 2/3 clave is used in the Cuban guaguancó.
claves Two round, polished sticks which are used to play the clave patterns
contradanza a music genre and precursor of the danza, meaning: "counter dance" (a word derived, according to some, from the English "country dance"). This was a very rigid dance, a "figures" dance, in which the dancers had to do specific movements
cua The principal pattern in the Puerto Rican genre (and rhythm) known as bomba
cumbia a music genre from Colombia popular dance rhythm from Colombia but also popular in Chile, Mexico and other Latin American countrues.
Often mistakenly classified as salsa, played with a different rhythm that is not based on the clave. The cumbia is played in 4/4 time with a heavy beat one and accentuated beats three and four, giving a loping rolling rhythm similar to "riding a horse".
danza a music genre for dance, developed in Puerto Rico and derived from the waltz. See complete description on the danza page.
danzón a music and dance genre developed in the late 19th century, which is derived from the European court and country dances, as well as the contradanza and the danza. The instrumentation which generally interprets this style is known as the charanga orchestra, featuring strings and flute with a rhythm section.
The danzón genre consists of: an introduction called the paseo (A), the principal flute melody (B), a repeat of the introduction (A), and the violin trio (C). Innovations by several composers led to the addition of a fourth section (D) called nuevo ritmo, later known as mambo. This section added elements of the Cuban son, and established an open vamp over which the flute, violin or piano would improvise
decima A ten-line, octosyllabic verse, typically the main part of what is known as "jibaro" or folk music. It is probably the earliest music genre that blends African rhythms with the lyrics and melody from the traditions of Western Europe
descarga an impromptu jam session, improvisation
fua sticks struck on a resonant surface; see also: clave