The role of instruments in salsa

Discussion in 'Salsa Music' started by El Conguero, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    There are some famous sonero battles on youtube. Most notably Cano Estremera vs. Jose Alberto "El Canario". One in particular from a festival in Peru that is priceless -- it's as much a game of "the dozens" as a musical tour de force.
  2. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    Excellent interview with Papo Lucca! Thanks. I read that part you mentioned about the fanfares from the old roman or medieval movies -- that does explain a lot about the sound of Papo's arrangements. And that part about Palmieri at the Village Gate was also fascinating -- man, what egos (or insecurities?) in the music business sometimes. I was at one of those shows at the Gate when Michel Camilo was the guest pianist with Ponceña. Incredible show. Egos were checked at the door so it was nothing but amazing music and phenomenal piano playing by both Papo and Michel -- they had two grand pianos set up facing each other.
  3. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    What kind of pianos do they use in salsa, anyway?

    These guys sound awesome - but getting back to the role of instruments, what kind of pianos do they use in salsa? I know many small-time bands use keyboards (like me) but which kind of "piano" do they set it to? Most sounds like an "Acoustic Grand" piano, but I'm not sure.
  4. Abayarde

    Abayarde Capitán Del Estilo

    That depends on which effect the artist want to achive.

    In "Vamonos Pa'l Monte" Masterworks liner notes, the producer talks about how perfectionist a musician like Eddie Palmieri can be: He managed to order the delivery of 4 different pianos in the recording studio to test each one and later decide which one to use.

    In a Nicky Marrero's Interview he mentions that "Vamonos Pa'l Monte" was recorded 23 times (more details in Not in such detail this is also mentioned in the Masterworks liner notes.
  5. Abayarde

    Abayarde Capitán Del Estilo

    There are great Salsa singers out there but only a few can be considered as true Soneros.

    Most of them repeat the same soneos over and over and doesn't even try to integrate some improvisation skills. The list of very famous Salsa singers that keep the memorized soneos is pretty big, but only a few like Cano Estremera, Gilberto Santa Rosa & Héctor Lavoe proves to be the big difference on stage.

    Experience and street knowledge helps but, just like the trovadores, they need to do their homework. They have to learn and practice the basics of rhyme and fonetics. Also staying updated with present worldwide notorious situations keeps the brain busy and responsive.
  6. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    I'm glad you said that, Abayarde. Makes me consider a bit more about who is a true Sonero and who is merely a very good Salsa singer, or maybe a good singer that improvisation skills are pretty decent but limited. In my experience working with many singers from Puerto Rico, most do repeat many of the same soneos each time they sing a tune but there is also some improvising. For example, I noticed this with Pedro Brull one night playing for a primarily Colombian crowd, we played "Buscando Aventuras" for almost fifteen minutes so he could only repeat himself so much -- a lot of the time he was improvising making references to things relating to the Colombian audience during his soneos (eg., what town someone is from, etc.). Is Pedro Brull considered a "Sonero", in your opinion? Others that I've observed as good Soneros are Luisito Carrion, Adalberto Santiago, and of course Cano. Tito Gomez was a very good singer, but not a Sonero, on the other hand.

    In addition to Cano, Hector Lavoe and Gilberto Santa Rosa, who else do you consider true Soneros? I'd love to see your list.
  7. El Minotauro

    El Minotauro Sonero

    Luisito Carrion is great! Adalberto Santiago is exceptional! Cano Estremera is THE MASTER! Hector Lavoe was marvellous! Gilberto Salsa Rosa was great in his earlier years, but he is now more of a cantante than a sonero. I haven't heard many soneos from Gilberto lately.
  8. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    Speaking of Gilberto, he was in New York this past week, and he was using a New York band! www .
  9. Abayarde

    Abayarde Capitán Del Estilo

    Pedro Brull is an excellent singer, but I don't consider him a Sonero. He can improvise two or three soneos but that's it.

    Luisito Carrión, Charlie Aponte and Sammy Marrero does their Soneos but don't ask them to go too far. Adalberto Santiago does also his soneos but most of the improvised ones doesn't even rhyme.

    Domingo Quiñones and Víctor Manuelle may do their soneos but they seem more memorized than improvised.

    Other singers try but they fall short quickly (even very famous ones like Marc Anthony, Michael Stuart, Tito Nieves, Tony Vega, Andy Montañez & Ismael Miranda, to name a few). The best to them is stay with their recording session soneos.

    Singers that are also composers, like Rubén Blades and Luis Enrique, has better luck in their improvised soneos during live shows but they don't push their luck, keeping it in small dosages. :D

    I may add to the real soneros list... Ismael Rivera, El Cano De Sábana Seca, Mel Martinez and Marvin Santiago.
  10. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    I love this thread! I'm learning a lot.

    Thanks, Abayarde!
  11. El Caobo

    El Caobo Maestro 'Salsa' Palmieri

    I agree wholeheartedly, especially Ismael Rivera and Marvin Santiago! May they both rest in peace.
  12. Abayarde

    Abayarde Capitán Del Estilo

    Gilberto performance in the recent Dia Nacional de La Salsa in Puerto Rico was brilliant.

    He sang and brought creative soneos in "La Música Popular", "No Se Compara" and "La Raza Latina", all composed by Mr. Johnny Ortiz.
  13. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    We haven't talked much about the role of bass in Salsa yet. A few observations of mine and I would like to hear from others to correct me or add your own thoughts.

    It's interesting how the Ampeg baby bass became the standard instrument and sound of Salsa. I don't know the history of that but I understand the Ampeg was mainly produced in the 1960's and the original instruments are still highly coveted. There have also been many knock-off's produced over the years.

    While the baby bass is the signature sound in Salsa, I also dig electric bass because it can completely change the dynamics and feeling of a band (in the right hands, of course). Baby bass plays the important role of a rhythmic foundation (tumbao) in the music but the electric bass can really enhance the role of the instrument and effect the sound of the group in a dramatic way. Bobby Valentin and Sal Cuevas stand out to me as the premier electric bassists in latin music. Ruben Rodriguez I think is equally adept at both electric and baby bass. I recall Sal Cuevas with Conjunto Clásico one night in the 1980's as a stand in for the regular (baby) bass player and that night the band was just totally transformed with all his fills, slaps and fast lines that are part of the electric bassists arsenal -- maybe he was "busy", but in a propelling and not obtrusive way, in my opinion.

    A great example of electric bass in recent recordings is on Luis Enrique's "Ciclos" album (2009). It's not just the sound and tone of the bass but things like the descending eighth notes at 2:00 - 2:04 on "Yo No Sé Mañana", if you have that track available to listen to.
  14. Abayarde

    Abayarde Capitán Del Estilo

    in the best bass performers list I have to add excellent ones like Cachao, Eddie "Guagua" Rivera, Angel Lebrón, Edwin "Mulenze" Morales and Bobby Rodriguez...
  15. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    Thanks for the info.

    This is a really good point (thanks also to groovetpt for explaining what the sonero actually does). I think because salsa is such a mix (it's not just Cuban son anymore) and because of all that "romantica" stuff, the sonero part hasn't been as prevalent as before. I'm looking forward to seeing these "battles" on youtube and all that, but I think some of that needs to come back! :)
  16. salsa4fun

    salsa4fun Sonero

    Wow, long and interesting thread !

    Getting back to the Timbales, I have lately noticed that some timbaleros when they play the cáscara/contra campana with their right hand, also accent beats 2 and 4 with their left hand, giving it a feeling similar to the conga's Tumbao.
  17. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    This is the first way I learned to play, and seems to be what Tito Puente does almost exclusively when playing with a bare hand. In fact I'd venture that most players do this when bare-handed. With a stick, though, the bombo (27 on the 3-side of the clave) comes into play more, along with other embellishments on the skins.
  18. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    I've seen this too, but I'm not there yet.

    If you've seen LP's "the rhythmic construction of a salsa tune" vol 1 that's what Pablo Chino Nuñez does. IDK tho... 2 me salsa is so clave-oriented I have a hard time doing that. Glad it came up tho because it is something I need 2 work on :)

    What are some of the other "embellishments on the skins"? I can do a couple little fills & things but what else is common on timbales?
  19. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    Hey all, I got a question that seems 2 fit here. I've seen a lot of posts about guaguancó lately and I love 2 play it on congas... but what the heck do the timbales do while the conguero and bongocero are playing guaguancó? Thanks =D
  20. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    I try to approximate the guagua part either on a block or on the shells of the timbales. I haven't really studied what everyone else does :-/

    x  x   x  x x    clave
    Xx xXx xX X Xx x guagua

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