Developed by Arsenio Rodriguez in the 1940s, the music of son montuno is the backbone of what we understand today as “salsa” or “timba.” With an accompanying dance which is almost lost to the Cuban people, in this piece, I explain what a son montuno is, how it is structured, and how to dance it, at the very basic level.
Many instructors use the clave as the instrument that every one learning casino or salsa should know, and they are not wrong. You should. But at the beginning levels, learning how this instrument works may not be of much use when helping you keep a beat, especially when in the majority of songs nowadays you cannot hear the clave pattern. Introducing, the conga.
It isn’t. And it certainly is not African music. Here is why.
Do you want to learn an Afro-Cuban dance like guaguancó? Well, given that many Afro-Cuban dances are being taught as add-ons to casino, chances are you will only be able to scratch the surface of any one dance. This post invites you to reflect on why we should take another look at the way these classes are being taught, and the content you’re receiving.
Every find yourself in the middle of a turn pattern when the song ends? I used to. A lot. And then I learned about what to listen to in the music in order to figure out when a song is about to end. Problem solved.