Salsa/Mambo differences?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Bronzestudent, Sep 10, 2004.

  1. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Re: The funny part is that Sabor is right...

    while I agree with the bases of your presentation, I have to further explain my position on why I see it differently... If Eddie Palmieri, Willie Colon, Hector, Max Salazar, Miguel Rondon, etc all say that yeah, even if salsa isn't a genre on its own and the old schoolers belief on being mambo is understandable but put against history and audible musical equality doesn't hold water, and even if in a music sheet it looks like Mambo, it is a sound of its own, one that a Mambo beat will sound very un-like. And why the perplexion of playing it for years is understandible when put upon my research of salsa's history.

    It is more of an attitude, a different sound, a belief on playing music if you will, one that old schoolers and music purists never agreed with, because when they read a salsa sheet they read a mambo sheet, or as cachao used to call it, a guaguanco with new arrangements... to them if there isn’t a music sheet for salsa, then there is no music, but as we can all tell, a mambo sound and a salsa sound aren’t the same.

    This argument will never end mainly because of incomplete information by arguing parties and different beliefs over the same thing, but what will change is the understanding that if Salsa and Mambo are the same, Salsa would not be the 3rd of Latin Sounds born in the US, sounds that even Cuban musicologists (Olavo Rodriguez, Leonardo Padura, amongst many more), band leaders as Juan Formell from los van van, Alberto Alvares, even Dominican most prominent musician (Juan Luis Guerra) say Salsa is salsa, it is not guaguanco with new arrangements, nor Mambo. It is a sound of its own that even if, at the time they were interviewed, salsa still didn't have a genre of its one, nor a music sheet of its own, the sound coming out of what is called salsa, sounds nothing like a mambo, nor anything that had ever been created in music until the sound from the 1970s coming out of NY City.

    And why all musicians, as well as all musicologists that study salsa and specialize in the history of salsa say that Salsa is more of an attitude a belief, a way of playing music that takes a form of its own, a metamorphosis of son, mambo, guaguanco and turn it into, yes a completely different music of its own, something more than mambo, regardless of what the music sheet says... Even looking at Mambo, a mambo sound will never have guaguanco, meringue, samba, bomba, pleana, etc in it, while it is very common in a Salsoso sound.

    The only people that refute that notion are music purist, mainly old schoolers like cachao and tito puentes, that as every one knows never played salsa, but mambo-jazz, and because of those beliefs mocked Salsa as being something you put in food. For we all know that for all new discoveries, inventions, there has to be those that refute it, for the sake of belief, tradition even pride. Kind of like those opposing timba in todays "salsoso" sound.

    Even when I'm not musically savvy as others, a mambo can be differentiated from a salsa as soon as the first bar plays. For I am not talking about the underlying equality of the music sheet of salsa and mambo, but rather, the message, the idea, and how the sound comes across, and why everyone that is of outmost presence, and a historian of salsa music doesn’t equate musical sheet equality to the same sound of salsa music and mambo music, which are indeed today categorized as two different animals... what is the same is the dance to both of them...

    Keep in mind that if Mambo and Salsa were the same, then NY City would not be the place of birth of Salsa, for as well all know, as well as it being a historical fact, that salsa came out of NY City, not Cuba, not Puerto Rico. That we accept that or not has nothing to do with what is the truth behind the sound argued to be Mambo because of structure found in a music sheet, but when played... the difference is of outmost audibility. One that can’t be said to be the same as Mambo… for it sounds nothing like mambo...

    Ever been to a live concert from a top band? Often even they’ll announce what music they are playing, here is a mambo, and now a salsaita… even when the sheets are the same...

    Ref: faces of Salsa by Leonardo Padura
    El Libro De La Salsa by Cesar Miguel Rondon
    And an array of other books I’ve read which I forget names and authors, of which non equal salsa to mambo, but do stress the equality of the music sheet.
  2. Bronzestudent

    Bronzestudent New Member

    :shock:
    I am in awe! Truly, I had no idea what the box of tamborines I was opening here. But thanks for the comments. Please, continue discussing amongst yourselves, I'll keep an eye on this thread.

    Maybe I should ask, are there any moves that anyone is aware of that are unique to Salsa on 2 or Salsa on 1? Let me reword that - Are there any moves that are unique to Mambo or Salsa? I'm thinking that probably there are, but hey, I don't know. I'd also think that perhaps there are same moves, because the dances are so structurally similar, that you just change the timing, and you can convert what you know in Mambo to Salsa very easily, as long as your partner can follow it.

    As far as there being any salsa dance spots (salseros?) around here, maybe Nashville or Clarksville would be the closest. I'm not aware of any. A friend of mine at the dances I go to went to one somewhere once here recently, and said it was crazy. He said they Salsa'd to all music, like if it was a Merengue playing, everybody was Salsa dancing to it! And some songs were as long as 14 or 15 minutes long! Would you consider that normal for dedicated Salsa dance spots? My friend didn't care for it too much, but that's him, and I can see his point, being that he does'nt know very much Salsa, maybe only 2x what I know, and would have liked more variety.
  3. mambochino

    mambochino New Member

    let me think here:

    For on2 how bout a Copa

    For on1, here comes the world famous NeckDrop :lol:
  4. Bronzestudent

    Bronzestudent New Member


    Aye Yai Yai!!! :lol:
  5. MacMoto

    MacMoto New Member

    Copa is a standard move on1 too, not unique to NY/on2.

    My teachers (LA style) sometimes demonstrate the NY and LA versions of the same move. There seem to be a lot of "same move done differently" thing between LA/on1 and NY/on2. The basic idea seems to be that NY style dancers generally prefer the partners to remain close and make moves compact and smooth, whereas the LA style seeks a lot of flash and bang.
  6. Sabor

    Sabor New Member


    so its flash and then bang?.. hmm .. always thought the bang came first..
    well, live and learn i guess :mrgreen:
  7. MacMoto

    MacMoto New Member

    Considering light travels faster than sound, it's only natural that flash is seen before bang is heard. :wink: :lol:
  8. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    :lol: hey.. sure .. flash first it is :wink:
  9. alvaro

    alvaro New Member

    mmm
    i'm curious.

    First, for all i know, when people talk about dancing 'mambo' they usually are talking about dancing salsa NYon2 style (as someone pointed out).
    Now my question: are mambo and salsa (the music) 'musically the same'??
    they sound soooo different!!!
    Please elaborate!

    As for the dances, i dont think there are steps that you cant do on one style or the other ... as long as you are dancing on a line. NY people wont do a neckdrop ... but thats probably because they dont want to!

    and ... whats a copa??
  10. MacMoto

    MacMoto New Member

    See {broken link removed} for a description.

    If this leaves you go "huh?" (like many text descriptions of moves do), watch this video clip.
    {broken link removed}
    Luis leads a copa about 24 seconds into the video (after the two-hand hold double turn).
  11. Bronzestudent

    Bronzestudent New Member

    There was a little discussion on this very topic earlier in the thread.

    Mexi Gabacho and Borikensalsero posted on this topic, and there's more to read on other threads. Probably more than you'd care to read!!
  12. alvaro

    alvaro New Member

    actually, my question was motivated by that discussion: i just dont see how they can be 'musically the same'. I mean not every salsa resembles son, but you "can" dance son very much the same as salsa and it doesnt feel terribly bad, i cant say the same about mambo: if i try dancing salsa to mambo if feels completely awkward. But i know nothing about music, so i'm curious about those comments


    also,
    thanks for the links! i finally know what a copa is!. ... here, people that dance inline on1 do that very often. Or maybe im getting something wrong ... my computer semi-trashed so i couldnt watch the clip.
  13. Bronzestudent

    Bronzestudent New Member

    Alvaro,

    What do you mean by "son" in your quote? Is it a type of dance?
  14. twodance

    twodance New Member

    In the 1920's a newspaper reporter in New York went to Harlem to write a piece on the dancing that was going on. A famous song called 'Mambo Jumbo'was playing at the time. The word 'Mambo' was slang at the time for 'mama'. So the song was about a large woman. At the club he asked a patron what the dance was called. The patron, not speaking English thought he wanted to know the name of the song. So he told him the name "Mambo Jumbo'. The reporter knew the dance couldn't be called the Jumbo so 'Mambo' was put in print in the papers. The dance is the Salsa but because of a printing error in the U.S. it became known as the Mambo.
    This story was told to us by one of our coaches Frank Regan, who is dance historian and former national champion. In ballroom there is Mambo as well as Salsa in competitions. In Mambo you break on the count of 2. In Salsa you break on the 1.
  15. MacMoto

    MacMoto New Member

    Is that the ONLY difference between Mambo and Salsa in ballroom comps? No difference in terms of stylistic preference or moves/patterns, for example? I ask because I know nothing about the ballroom world and am curious how it treats Salsa and Mambo.
  16. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    No, that's far from the only difference! But, that being said, ballroom salsa is judged by ballroom judges so, inevitably, ballroom styling often gets rewarded more than it should... :(
  17. alvaro

    alvaro New Member

    that's a funny story, twodance!

    One question about ballroom: do they use the same music for the mambo and salsa competitions? or are there some differences?

    Bronzestudent, 'son' is cuban music, think 'Buena Vista Social Club'. Cubans dance it on the two but with a very different feel and body movement. Still, if you dance it as 'salsa', it'll feel ok.
  18. msjanemas

    msjanemas New Member

    Re: The funny part is that Sabor is right...

    borikensalsero excerpts:

    It is more of an attitude, a different sound, a belief on playing music if you will, one that old schoolers and music purists never agreed with, because when they read a salsa sheet they read a mambo sheet, or as cachao used to call it, a guaguanco with new arrangements... to them if there isn’t a music sheet for salsa, then there is no music, but as we can all tell, a mambo sound and a salsa sound aren’t the same.

    That is correct! There is no music sheet for Salsa. Salsa, and here I go again, is the New York Sound. Arranged around la clave but going further than Mambo's steady arrangement. It attacks you from every angle coming in with brass in all directions, jumping la clave and bringing in other Pan elements.

    This argument will never end mainly because of incomplete information by arguing parties and different beliefs over the same thing, but what will change is the understanding that if Salsa and Mambo are the same, Salsa would not be the 3rd of Latin Sounds born in the US, sounds that even Cuban musicologists (Olavo Rodriguez, Leonardo Padura, amongst many more), band leaders as Juan Formell from los van van, Alberto Alvares, even Dominican most prominent musician (Juan Luis Guerra) say Salsa is salsa, it is not guaguanco with new arrangements, nor Mambo. It is a sound of its own that even if, at the time they were interviewed, salsa still didn't have a genre of its own, nor a music sheet of its own, the sound coming out of what is called salsa, sounds nothing like a mambo, nor anything that had ever been created in music until the sound from the 1970s coming out of NY City.

    That's because it's like a canvas and you can do anything with it. Each being unique and different.

    And why all musicians, as well as all musicologists that study salsa and specialize in the history of salsa say that Salsa is more of an attitude a belief, a way of playing music that takes a form of its own, a metamorphosis of son, mambo, guaguanco and turn it into, yes a completely different music of its own, something more than mambo, regardless of what the music sheet says... Even looking at Mambo, a mambo sound will never have guaguanco, meringue, samba, bomba, pleana, etc in it, while it is very common in a Salsoso sound.

    Absolutely correct. A Mambo will never have a guaguanco or another genre in it. NYS on the other hand can have anything in it. You'll find many arranged with three different genres that are fused, while many NYS's don't have Son or Mambo in it at all!

    The only people that refute that notion are music purist, mainly old schoolers like cachao and tito puentes, that as every one knows never played salsa, but mambo-jazz, and because of those beliefs mocked Salsa as being something you put in food. For we all know that for all new discoveries, inventions, there has to be those that refute it, for the sake of belief, tradition even pride. Kind of like those opposing timba in todays "salsoso" sound.

    How right you are. Harlow and Pacheco were others who played nothing but Cuban music. That was all they played. Although TP did "some" Mambo from NY he refused to acknowledge it because he wanted to stay in favor. But later on he was heard to admit..."salsa" is a new york thing.

    Even when I'm not musically savvy as others, a mambo can be differentiated from a salsa as soon as the first bar plays. For I am not talking about the underlying equality of the music sheet of salsa and mambo, but rather, the message, the idea, and how the sound comes across, and why everyone that is of outmost presence, and a historian of salsa music doesn’t equate musical sheet equality to the same sound of salsa music and mambo music, which are indeed today categorized as two different animals... what is the same is the dance to both of them...

    Oh yes you are savvy! Above you said:
    It's something that can't be explained but it's there, the sound that makes it different is there.

    Like you said, the only thing that is the same is the dance. Mambo is the dance. Salsa is not a dance! We all hear let's go Salsa dancing, but that's like saying "let's go Soul dancing." And when you get to the club...whatchagonna dance? the shingaling, the box, break dance, hip hop, freestyle? What everyone dances is mambo. Some do a good job of dancing it while others don't. Some on 1, while others on 2. To me On 1 focuses on the Tumbao rather than the clave when dancing.


    Keep in mind that if Mambo and Salsa were the same, then NY City would not be the place of birth of Salsa, for as well all know, as well as it being a historical fact, that salsa came out of NY City, not Cuba, not Puerto Rico. That we accept that or not has nothing to do with what is the truth behind the sound argued to be Mambo because of structure found in a music sheet, but when played... the difference is of outmost audibility. One that can’t be said to be the same as Mambo… for it sounds nothing like mambo...

    That's right, they do not sound the same. When I sit my 76 year old mother down to listen to some music, I play some Son. She listens and says, "ah that's that nice cuban music." Then I play her some Mambo and she says, "I use to dance to that at the Trocadero club." Then I play some Eddie Palmieri and she says, "he was so complicated", and when I put on Willie Colon she says, "that is Nueva York!" I ask her if EP or Willie are playing Cuban music and she looks at me as if I were crazy.
  19. wuthering

    wuthering New Member

    I have seen people dancing cross body style on 1. What do you think about that?

    I heard that the main difference between on1 and on2 is that people need to stay on the line of dance when dancing on2 style, whereas a leader can place himself/ the follower virtually anywhere around him when dancing on1. (Allthough I have seen the contrary...)
  20. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    wuthering, New York style is usually on2, and slot-like patterns are used. But the same is true for Los Angeles style on1... Cuban style is rotational.

    Of course, the three (and many more) style intertwine to form the beautiful and rich dance called Salsa today (or Mambo - see above discussions)

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