Learn About the Roots of Latin Music in a Free Workshop with Sol y Canto

Posted March 14th, 2011 at 3:04 pm.

On Thursday, March 24, at 4 p.m. Sol y Canto, who will be performing the next night to close the 2010-11 Performing Arts Series, offers an engaging and participatory performance workshop on the roots of Latin American and Caribbean music.

This event is free and open to the public and takes place in the McPherson Auditorium of Goodhart Hall.

The workshop revolves around the three main influences in Latin American music and culture: the European, the African and the indigenous roots. Sol y Canto members take workshop participants on a journey through the cultures of the Caribbean and Latin and South America, featuring rhythms from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Peru and Venezuela, among others. Using guitar and percussion as a foundation, additional band members (when included) add percussion, keyboard, flute, sax, traditional Latin wind instruments and electric bass, showing how each of the cultural influences is manifested.

In the rich African musical tradition, the group presents an Afro-Uruguayan candombe rhythm, traditionally performed during carnival, whenever possible inviting the workshop participants to join band members in the playing of the four interlocking drum patterns. Workshop attendees are asked to volunteer to play some of the percussion patterns and instruments during this segment of the workshop.

The Colombian “cumbia” is often demonstrated, including very specific dance steps that evolved around its particular history, when African slaves’ feet were bound by chains, seriously limiting the dancers’ motions. Band members also demonstrate the different “claves” or basic rhythmic patterns played with rhythm sticks in Afro-Caribbean music, teaching participants how the “clave” is critical for the correct performance of this rich music.

The European influence is manifested in the use of the guitar in particular, as well as the lyrical composition, often showing up in genres where it is combined with African or indigenous song forms. To illustrate this phenomenon, Sol y Canto leader Brian Amador showcases a flamenco rhythm on the Spanish guitar, inviting audience members to learn the “palmas” or rhythmic clapping specific to flamenco. Other band members might perform up to two songs from Puerto Rico including the bomba or
plena rhythm, a song from Cuba, or an original composition featuring the similarities between the Cuban and flamenco rumba.

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