African Origins of Salsa

African Origins of Salsa

When we talk about salsa, Latin America is the first thing that many people think about, but they do not wonder about the history behind this musical as well as others so popular in the Americas. It is not a secret that there are a number of Latin and Caribbean musical styles that have their origins in Africa and salsa is no exception. Listening to certain sounds, it is impossible not to notice that there are too many similarities between the rhythms that both continents have to offer.

Historical background

In the 1770s, an estimated number of about 70,000 African slaves arrived in Cuba, who did not leave behind their past just for being halfway around the world, in particular all that concers musical expressions. In fact, there are historical records of slaves that were introducing their artistic expressions into the new environment to which they had to adapt. When establishing comparison between current rhythms and those from back them, it was discovered that some tones tipically found in salsa were already present on the African continent since the 1700s. On top of this, each African nation had its own styles which were gradually brought together to give birth to a whole diverse amalgam responsible for the rise of other musical genres.

Each of the musicians who has been made known since then has contributed their bit for music to evolve and to becomr what it is today. This music is the result of a mixture of elements from throughout the world. A great example of this is the union of African drummers from Nigeria and the Spanish guitar. This union would be consummated in the Caribbean to give rise to what we now call salsa.

The interesting case of Senegal

Around the time of the definitive independence of that African country, Senegal has a large number of lovers of salsa and Latin music in general. Well-known are the military interventions of African countries by Cuba, which brought into a whole mixture of local and foreign rhythms. Among the many artists and groups that raised the bar for Afro-Cuban music in this country, particularly important were La Fania All Stars, Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, among many others.

In the same way, orchestras and training schools for many West African musicians emerged, place in which there were numerous musical groups related to the independence of some countries such as Senegal.

More than half a century after that, we can say that these orchestras and singers have become cultural ambassadors and a very strong connection between Africa and America where music is concerned.