Salsa Music Tempo


Well-Known Member

Tempo of salsa music could be slow (rarely), medium, fast or very fast. However, what is fast or slow is relative. It would be more informative if I can know the music tempo in terms of beats per minute (bpm).

I’ve purchase Fernando Cruz Salsa Rhythms’ counting tutorial which has examples of a fast tempo beat. Seems to me, the fast tempo is about 188 bpm (I could be wrong!) when compared to the free counting tutorial on the Salsa & Merengue society website ( which has examples of 144 bpm, 188 bpm and 201 bpm. I must state here that I’ve high opinion of Salsa Rhythms’ counting tutorial but considering that the S&M tutorial is free, I think it’s pretty cool too.

Could the salsa experts on the forum advise me what’s the normal bpm of salsa music. It would be even better if someone can give me examples of medium, fast and very fast salsa music with the indicative bpm in parenthesis.

Many thanks in advance.


Posted 10/18/03 6:37 for rickyT


Well-Known Member

I'll take a look around and see what I can find. I know there are some pretty strict rules in terms of ballroom music tempi listed at under rule, regulations and policies. And lots of dances are listed, just no salsa. I checked. Even polka is listed. No salsa. Hmm. I bet it's out there somewhere. I'll keep looking.

Does anyone else have ideas? :?
Hi, RickyT!

From my experience, I would say that slow salsa songs ranges from about 120 bmp (very dificult to find) to 140 bmp, medium from 145 bpm to 170 and I would say that fast songs go from something like 180 bpm to whatever, the sky is the limit!:)

Of course this limits are not mathematical, it's just my impression, based in a small experience of giving classes to beginners. To beginners I only play salsa between 120 bpm and 135 bpm, more or less. Above this values I would say that you are entering the medium-slow velocity. A friend of mine wrote a Visual Basic Program that easily measure the tempo and I use it to measure the tempo of the songs I play.

I would divide the medium and fast songs in more subcategories, like medium-slow, medium, medium-fast, fast...(with the fast ones starting around 180 bpm)

João Santos


Active Member
Here's my take as a DJ. I'm used to dealing with this in the House genere:

Less than 135 - slow
135 - 159 bpm - moderate (slow side)
160 – 180 bpm - moderate salsa (uptempo)
181 + bpm – fast salsa

I checked the classification that my friend does in the Visual Basic Program that he gave me. So, it's like this:

100-145 bpm: Very Slow
145-160 bpm: Slow
160-175 bpm: Medium Slow
175-190 bpm: Medium
190-205 bpm: Medium Fast
205-220 bpm: Fast
220-235 bpm: Very Fast
235-250 bpm: Rapid
250+ bpm: Crazy

I checked with the program the bpm for two songs in a middle section by a period of about 1 minute. The results were:

Mama Guela - Spanish Harlem Orquesta - 226 bpm -> Very Fast
Ran Kan Kan - Tito Puente - 202 bpm -> Medium Fast

Note: I'm not sure if the program is working well I have to make some tests...

João Santos


Well-Known Member
Hey João,

Does this mean that you found your slow-tempo salsa for teaching that you were looking for in another thread? While I was looking around this morning, I found a site that listed some suggested songs by tempo, and I could probably find it again, if you need it. Let me know. :D


I found some. I'm testing them and then I will put a post here with the information, but I would like to have more, so, if you could help me I would like to know the address of the site that you mentioned.Thanks.



Well-Known Member
For those who still find salsa too fast but still do not know the beat-machine:

-You can adjust the tempo (top left) to cha cha (130) or dura (200);
-you can switch instruments on or off (fader) in order to learn the polyrhythmic; structure one by one;
-you´ve also got the possibility to change some music or rhythmic patterns (v button) to some more specific cuban styles.

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