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What Is Latin Music?

Offering A Dictionary-Style Definition of Latin Music

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Photo Courtesy Carlos Quintana

Latin Music Instruments

Photo Courtesy Carlos Quintana

Since its inception, this site has been trying to cope with the most essential question regarding Latin music: What is Latin music? From a general overview of this label to a tentative definition of a Latin music artist, this site has introduced some of the main concepts behind the answer to that question.

To further help you to get a better understanding of Latin music, this article provides a dictionary-style definition of Latin music. I hope you find it useful.

Latin Music
[noun] /ˈlæt.ɪnˈ mju:zɪk/

A Popular music genre that encompasses a full spectrum of rhythms and styles from Latin America and the broader Latin world including musical fusions by Latinos in the US as well as genres and artists from European countries such as Portugal and Spain.

Latin music is mainly defined by four elements: Music style, geography, cultural background of the artist, and language. Music style includes genres such as Salsa, Bachata, Latin Pop and Regional Mexican music. For the most part, geography refers to Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula. The cultural background includes artists from Latin America or artists with a Latin (Europe)/Latino (US) background. Language refers to Spanish and Portuguese.

These four elements interact in different ways and very often a combination of only two or three of these elements is enough to place a given production into the Latin music genre. A Japanese band singing Salsa in Japanese language would be missing all the elements previously mentioned except for the most important one: The music style, which would be enough to place their music into the Latin music genre.

Latin music encompasses hundreds of styles and rhythms including mainstream genres such as Salsa, Tango, Merengue and Brazilian music, as well as traditional rhythms like Andean music, Puerto Rican Bomba, Cuban Son and Musica Llanera.

Famous Latin music artists include legendary singers, songwriters and musicians such as Julio Iglesias, Vicente Fernandez, Celia Cruz, Caetano Veloso, La Sonora Poncena, Selena and Los Tigres del Norte, as well as contemporary megastars like Shakira, Calle 13, Mana, Prince Royce, Juanes, Don Omar and Juan Luis Guerra.

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