Got Rhythm: The Music Of Latin America

Music of Latin America influences

Latin American music has influenced much of what you hear on popular music radio stations, and has entered into almost every branch of the entertainment industry, videos, television, films, even advertisements.

The "Latin beat" has taken the world by storm more than once and it remains a constant in rock, pop, hip hop, jazz and reggae. You'll hear it in the clubs, and you'll definitely hear it once you listen to your travel agent and book one of those Caribbean cruise deals.

dancing on latin beat

Latin music and the Latin dancing that goes along with it is not all the same, as many from outside the Latin cultures of Central AmericaSouth America and the Caribbean believe. Each culture has its own musical signature because each has developed separately from the others.

What you hear on one island, or in a country that speaks predominantly Portuguese, will not be the same as what you hear in a Spanish speaking nation or island. Even music that uses the same language can often be significantly different from that produced in a neighbouring region.

Music of Latin America Dances

Dominican Merengue and Bachata, the Cuban Rumba, and Puerto Rican SalsaBomba and Plena are all musical styles from Spanish-speaking island nations in the Caribbean. 

Cuban Rumba dance

If you listen to them you will notice that the language is the same but the beats and arrangements are completely different. Some are fast, some are slow, and some require a half or quarter step when dancing.

These differences can also be seen in the Colombian Cumbia, the Brazilian Samba, the Ecuadorian Bomba del Chota and Marimba music, the Candombe and Murga rhythms from the River Plate, and Afro-Peruvian rhythms of FestejoLandóPanalivioSocabónSon de los Diablos, and Toro Mata.

  Brazilian Samba in Carnival parade in the Sambadrome, Mel Britto
Brazilian dancer Mel Britto
as Drum Queen of the 
Caprichosos samba school 
during Rio de Janeiro’s
Carnival parade in the
Sambadrome February 26, 2006
  Brazilian Samba, Mel Britto
The word Brazilian Samba
comes from Quimbundo language. 

One meaning is to pray, or invoke
the spirits of the ancestors,

or the Gods of African pantheon.

There are common threads that run through some of these but for the most part they are completely different from each other.

Landò, traditonal dance in Peru
Africans arrived in Peru as part of the Spanish trade
between the 16th and the 19th centuries.
Their contribution to music and dance
created a fusion known as landò


Whatever your individual musical preferences might be, there is most likely a Latin beat of some kind that will be music to your ears. If you hear one and you don't like it, try something different. There are dozens to choose from and each has a history that will be worth reading up on.

Knowing the roots of a type of music can help you to connect with it just like knowing the history of a culture can help you understand its people. Learning about their music is a good first step.

Latin hispanic world culture map

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I'm Turenne. I welcome you warmly in this journey of creative passion for total health and wealth that I express as inspirations to fully stir our vital energy... and dance our soul...

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About the author: Sarah Van Rensburg is a travel lover and avid writer, focussing on a range of travel topics particularly cruise holidays.

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