Salsa > Salsa, Son & Cachacha the differences?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by matty, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. matty

    matty New Member

    im just trying to refine my definition for these different styles.

    i have heard now so many times, that salsa and son are the same. salsa comes from son etc....

    and just the other day, my dance instructer mentioned that chachacha really is Son which has made my head spin somewhat.:confused:

    to put it simply, my own distinction between salsa and chachacha, lies pretty much in the speed of the song, if its way too slow to be salsa then its probably chachacha.. and if its quite slow and with more guitar based instrumentation then its probably Son. likewise one can feel the rythem and tell which dance lends itself better, but thats too vague for me.

    im sure theres a better way to tell.. for example, if the clave is the signature in salsa, (that is to say even if its only there in spirit), so... is this what sets salsa aside from the others? and if so what signature sounds are there to tell me if its, Son or Chachacha?

    can i dance Son to a chachacha song? or am i commiting some kind of dancefloor blasphemy ?

    here are just a couple of songs that currently represent a grey area for me:

    polo montañes - un monton de estrellas (salsa or son?)

    orquesta tabaco y ron - guajira (son or chachacha?)

    guantanamera - chachacha or son?

    then there are those songs that contain the lyrics to the effect of "this is Son!" "you are listening to Son!"
    but , still sound rather like salsa to me because they have an uptempo beat that fits well with salsa moves.

    such as

    cubanoson - cubanoson

    clave cubana - dicen que el son

    my final question : can a song be both or all three at the same time?
  2. urish

    urish New Member

    Few things: First of all, salsa and cha cha have some in common, but there are some characteristics that will help you identify cha cha apart from the slower rhythm. One of these is the Cha Cha bell, which plays on every beat , while on Salsa music the bongocero bell highlights the down beats (1-3-5-7). So if u hear a constant bell pattern on all beats, including the up beats, then it is a cha cha. Traditional cha cha music usually features a flute (example: "Rico Vacilon" by Orchestra Aragon), and many times does not have any brass at all. While Salsa music without brass does exist (Listen to the New Swing Sextet, not a single brass instrument), most Salsa songs features at least a trombone and usually also a trumpet or more. Also, in traditional Cha Cha I don't find many of the Salsa patterns such as piano montuno or the contra campaña. I am not an expert in Cha Cha music, these are just my two cents from what I have listened so far. There are a examples of Salsa songs that switch half way to Salsa and the other way around - I can't recall them right now, but if you want I can look for you. Finally, watch out of the Guajira - it's another genre which is close to cha cha, but has some different characteristics. I don't know the exact differences very well, so if you find a good explanation about this I'd love to get a reference too....
  3. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I'd say that as long as the rhythms in the music support the dance you are trying to do, go for it. I can't dance salsa or mambo to any music lacking the clave, myself, but I find there is plenty of non-latin music I am comfortable dancing cha cha to.
  4. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I, and many others, have addressed these questions many times on Salsa Forums. Some are long and detailed and worth your visit...
  5. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    If it was lacking clave, then it wouldnt be either...
  6. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Re: Salsa

    Hi matty, I´m not very familiar with Salsa (for I am a tango dancer), but as far as I know:

    @1 Salsa ≠ Son, b.c Salsa is a bundle of styles (ranging from cuban to columbian dances), whereas Son is A specific style. You see, the logical categories are different. So what do you mean with Salsa? Timba, Mambo... ?

    @2 ChaChaChá ≠ Son, but they have something in common: both are danced on2. That means that the rock step (aka rebote, breaking) is usually done on the second beat according to the rhythm of the claves. ChaChaChá is a slow offshoot of Mambo. But in the end almost every cuban style stems from Son.

    @3 first you have to make out the music style, then a dance style that could fit mostly. So, it depends on your knowlegde and experience ( .. already saw people dancing waltz to an even signature... ). I f.i also dance Tango to slow and even pieces of Popmusic, but for traditionalists this makes their hair stand to end.

  7. matty

    matty New Member

    your totally right, i should have included mambo and timba in my first question.. but i focused on chacha, and son because they have specifically different dance to the other music which i refer to as "salsa",


    marc anthony & La india - vivir lo nuestro

    another off the top of my head

    yury buenaventura - salsa

    in my case, at least for the moment, i will dance the same moves no matter what kind of "salsa" is playing.;)

    i had begun to think of mambo as anyhing with that kind of big-band sound with prominent percussion and horns, mostly from the era of 1950s, 1960s, and any new stuff which retains that sound.

    ie. tito puente . Ran Kan Kan

    and anything with a late seventies onward sound (where the piano is a little more prominent) to be "salsa"

    el gran combo - brujeria

    (though the horns are still fairly prominent in this too)

    i could be wrong on that, but its how i have come to categorize it in my head up till now,
    but perhaps its more correct to sub categorize into charanga, or mambo etc... but im afraid i just havent gotten there yet.
  8. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Check out the video linked to by Phil Owl under Salsa->Video
    There is a PBS series on Latin music that you can watch online, and it covers specifically the birth of Mambo and Salsa in NY. I found it very informative, and spent too long on it yesterday. I think some of your questions would be answered by it.

    There are also some articles connected to the web site for La Epoca the film. I haven't seen the film, or been willing to buy the DVD, but it seems that provides an alternative viewpoint to the PBS series..

    The main thing, though, that I found surprising at first, but makes sense when I think about it, is the characterization by the PBS series that Mambo and Salsa, the musical styles, and the dances, were born in the Puerto Rican community of NY, as Cuban and Puerto Rican music met Jazz, Rock, and R&B.

    I'm not putting in links because I'm not allowed to, yet. So just google the keywords.
  9. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member


    As far as I know, Casino, Mambo, ChaChaChá, Son, a.s.o. all share a great number of moves. The rhythm, interpretation, phrasing is different.

    See TT answer to my question on this topic:
  10. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Claves in Cha?

    Is it true, that the cuban Son Clave (with tonewoods) isn´t common in Cha Cha Chá? Tito f.i. plays timbales and cowbells instead.
  11. Simi-Lanjiao

    Simi-Lanjiao Member

    More specifically, guajira-son.

    You can dance cha-cha-cha to this by virtue of the fact that the two open tones of the tumbao on the congas will easily accommodate the cha-cha-cha shuffle. No prob. But if you're accustomed to dancing son cubano, you'll pick up the son rhythm in the bass and the guajira in the piano/string montuno, and feel compelled to dance son.

    The way some bands play guajira-son numbers such as GUANTANAMENA allows you to dance son during the slow parts and cha-cha-cha during the chorus (for example). Switching between the two is no big deal - I've always thought of cha-cha-cha as son with a shuffle in the middle.

    At the end of the day, it all depends on how you listen to the music.
  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The musical construction of Guajira and Cha Cha are different.

    The Syncop in Guajira is contained within the bar, whereas in Cha, that is the "link" ( the syncop on 4and1 ) that joins the 2 bars together .
    There are some arrangements that use both syncop. within the same musical structure .

    By the way, its GuantanaMERA, also, I would seriously doubt most dancers even know what Son is, let alone dance to it by intention ( Most salseros dont know !! ) .

    And to clarify.. " Son " is A.. a dance form ,and B, a musical format .

    Heres a simple answer to the Q of are you dancing to Son; if you are breaking on "2" of the 2nd bar of the Fwd and Back basic ( breaking back ),also called dancing on clave, then you are more or less dancing "in " the music and following the " Call and Response ".

    And the " shuffle " as put it, is how Cha Cha got its name, but its dance origin is Guajira/ triple Mambo .
  13. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    ^ :cheers: .
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The Clave only happens on 2 of the 2nd bar in Salsa/Mambo,
    Read my response to the last poster about origins of Cha cha.

    And not almost every style but EVERY style .There are 4 different forms written.. Guaracha, GuaGuanco, Guajira and Montuno .
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

  16. Simi-Lanjiao

    Simi-Lanjiao Member

    Just because you can't hear the clave sticks, it doesn't mean the clave isn't there. All the rhythms are played with reference to the clave, regardless whether it's being physically played or not.

    Anyway... a while ago I watched this DVD by Roberto Borrell "Un Trio Inseparable" which is basically a study of the smilarities between danzon, son cubano and cha-cha-cha. It's interesting because, when compared side by side, it's quite apparent that those 3 types of dances are indeed sisters.

    He also explains that sometimes musicians play son with hints of cha-cha-cha coming through every now and then (i.e. "Chicharronero" by Arsenio Rodriguez) and how one can switch between dancing son and cha-cha-cha seamlessly in response.
  17. Simi-Lanjiao

    Simi-Lanjiao Member

    Aww... come on, just because son cubano (both the music and dance) doesn't enjoy the same marketing hype as American salsa, one cannot assume 99% of us know nothing of it.

    A few dance it, some know about it... but, yeah, most couldn't give a damn because it's not flashy and there are no circus stunts/flips/fancy acrobatics.
  18. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I didnt put a % mark on the visibilty.. And, I dont assume.. I base it on multi yrs of teaching it !( even to Profs who dont know the difference ) .

    Knowing where "2" is, and knowing WHY are different "animals" as is knowing the differences between dancing "Son " and other forms of Salsa/ Mambo .

    As to the Flash thing , the "caring " aspect needs to be there irrespective... do the majority care ?.. of course not .

    And.. American salsa ??

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