Lesson 1: Latin American Instruments

Latin American songs owe much of their magic to the interplay between African-originated syncopated rhythms and Spanish/Portuguese melodies. That means you should bring two kinds of Latin American instruments to your next South American, Central American or Caribbean band practice: percussion (drums like your conga, bongo and timbales, scrapers like your guiro . . . anything to keep the beat) and stringed instruments, like your acoustic guitar,, that can accompany your vocalist’s poetry. In the Andes Mountains and into the Mayan areas of Guatemala and Mexico, where there was less African influence and more connection with the music of  pueblos indígenas (indigenous peoples), instruments are likely to make sounds of the natural world: quenas/flutes that imitate the wind, rattles and shakers that remind you of rain.

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