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The word means "sauce" in Spanish; however, the music bearing this name is much harder to define. Most experts agree that it is a modern arrangement of fast rhythms related to the mambo, a big-band style popular in the 1940s. These rhythms include guarachas, sones, and guanguancos, all of which originated in Cuba. Salsa can also encompass a wide range of Caribbean dance forms such as bombas and plenas from Puerto Rico, merengues from the Dominican Republic, cumbias from Columbia, and joopos from Venezuela. The form relies heavily on percussion instruments such as the congas (freestanding drums usually played in pairs), the bongos (a smaller two-drum set rested on the knees), and the timbales (a stand-mounted percussion ensemble which includes two small drums and tuned cowbells). The tipico style--a specific method of phrasing and underscoring a solo with a repeated montuno (a two or three chord phrase) riff, played on a piano or another accompanying instrument--represents a notable ingredient of salsa.


Top Artists and Their Recordings

Celia Cruz--Mi Diario Musical.

Eddie Palmieri--Sentido.

Tito Puente--Cuban Carnival.

Tito Rodriguez--Carnival of the Americas.

Mongo Santamaria--Afro-Indio.