April « 2008 « Salsa Addiction Centre
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    Guerra Musical…2nd edition

    Hello again and welcome to the second installment of Guerra Musical. Last time I put two salsa songs head to head. This time I think I’ll cover something a little more sensual. I think its time to get a little bachata in our lives. We can all admit that while bachata may not have the elaborateness of salsa, it is probably the most daring of the common latin dances. Let’s be honest, if you have that special someone with you, you definitely want a bachata song to come on…it lets you say so much without saying anything at all ;) . So, I’m going to go with two well known favourites for this battle.

    The contenders:
    1. Ven Tu: Dominic Marte; album “Intimamente” (2004).
    For a listen

    2. Perdidos: Monchy y Alexandra; album “Hasta El Fin” (2004).
    For a listen

    The title, Ven tu means come (you). This song is a supplication by a man to his beloved, asking her to come back after being away for so long. This is one of those bachata songs that is instantly recognized by anyone who has ever been exposed to the genre. Its opening cry sets the tone for the feel of forlorn the song portrays and a quick study of the words will show just how much this guy is suffering. Click here for the full spanish lyrics.

    A year passes without kissing you
    Without giving you love, without hugging you
    I know you feel the same
    But I’m tired of not being with you
    When you call me on the phone
    I’m able to feign happiness
    But as soon as I hang up
    An immense sadness invades my body
    I’m tired of the “I love you”
    Of the thousands of “I love you”s you write in your letters
    Come and tell me face to face
    Because I don’t feel anything for paper…

    These are the words of someone who is in serious pain. He just wants to hold this woman, be with her and become intoxicated by her love. It is that desire that makes this such an amazing bachata song. The sensual sound goes hand in hand with the desperate pleas of the man. Painful, distant love is not an uncommon theme in bachata music but this song does it extremely well. I especially enjoy how each verse builds to the chorus, as if accentuating the reasons for his plea.

    Perdidos (lost) is another song about troubled love. However, unlike its predecessor, this one is more about lovers trapped in a situation and wishing to escape it. As I read the lyrics I kind of want to call it Romeo and Juliet’s bachata. The following translation should show you why. Click here for spanish lyrics.

    The two of us are lost on a boat without a destination
    Navigating through the forbidden, trapped in the seas of passion
    Lost, surrendered without measure
    Hidden and in silence
    Waiting for the sun to rise on our promised land

    It would seem that the desires and passion of their love have placed them in a situation with little room for them to fully love each other. This duo has a large repertoire of songs with the same feel, all of them excellent. This song is a pledge of an ultimate place of bliss and a reassurance by the lovers that things will be fine. This is evident by the distinct male and female parts, and strengthened by the melding of voices in the chorus.


    Sound of the song

    These songs don’t differ very much when it comes to sound. Part of the reason is that bachata doesn’t really have different tempos. Another factor is the emotion of the songs. Both make it hard to separate them on a scale. However, while Ven Tu is a grander sounding song, Perdidos is catchy without being tedious. I like the sound of both, but I’ll give the advantage to Perdidos 4.5-4.


    Both of these songs are great to dance to, not much need for separation and plenty of places for sensuality. Having said that, the accentuation of Ven Tu gives it a slight advantage for those who like to add a dramatic flair. I’ll give the nod to it for that reason, 4-3.

    Musical and lyrical sync

    I’ve already stated that these songs are exquisitely synced in regards to music and lyrics. When that is the case, I listen for which song offers a little more. In this case, Ven Tu has a more impacting sound. I just think that as a whole, it makes you feel the plea of the singer a little better than Perdidos. It could also be due to the fact that this man is alone and yearning for his love, giving it an added edge of despair. Either way, edge goes to Ven Tu, 5-4.5.


    Ven Tu 13; Perdidos 12

    What do you think?

    Sigan Bailando!


    You can dance salsa at different tempos and styles…part 2

    Remember those songs I mentioned last time?

    Los Sitio Asere (Afro Cuban All Stars): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqKu369wP1Q
    Pinar Del Rio (Celia Cruz): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsNPELxQnhQ
    Exitos De Siempre (Alquimia): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJxmYjdIYkQ
    Sombra Loca (Gilberto Sta. Rosa): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvzFexhhFKg
    Juliana (DLG): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz0YkiYBQlo

    The last one on that list, Juliana, is noticeably different from the others as far as the musicality of it goes. The song has loud, intricate brass which gives it a very energetic feel. The others, by contrast, are not as busy and give a more mellow impression (at least as far as a salsa song is concerned). The originating region has a lot to do with that association.

    Let’s admit it, salsa in North America is very showy. If you go to latin countries you would notice that there is less emphasis on turn patterns and big tricks and more focus on closeness and quick, tight moves. This can be seen in the music. Compare the first 4 songs, all from Cuban, South American or Puerto Rican artists. The first two, of Cuban origin, are very smooth, and simple. While tricks are still implemented, the basis of cuban salsa is numerous break back steps. Cuban salsa is very circular in that sense and, as a result of the constant tension between the partners, massive turn patterns aren’t all that common.

    Alquimia is a Colombian sonora (roughly translated means sound producer) which owes its sound largely to another legendary group, La Sonora Matancera. Their sound is very representative of Central American and South American salsa. This is probably the most distinctive of the selections I posted. In actuality, it is a blend of cumbia and salsa. Its cumbia influence is what makes it simpler, as cumbia doesn’t involve intricate turn patterns but is rather more of a dance based on basics with the occasional turn. Believe me, it may sound bland, but it is enjoyable, you don’t always need big tricks to have fun dancing.

    Now, Gilberto Sta. Rosa is a Puerto Rican salsero and has a very classical sound with a hint of the new age, North American style. I think he has a very nice sound, never hectic but always with a great rhythm and pace. His music serves as a good example of a blend of the laid back, Latin American style with the flashy North American style. While listening to the music you can see where turn patterns, shines opportunities and partner work fit in. There is also a difference in the dancing style. Cuban salsa, as mentioned, is more circular whereas modern dance salsa has a much more linear movement. This is due in part to the lack of break back steps. As with an elastic band, the recoil from the tension created by a break back takes time to unfold and as a result, the dance is a touch slower. This is not the case with linear salsa, where smaller steps are the norm and allows for quickness giving time for more tricks while maintaining the rhythm.

    As a final comparison, you have Juliana by the New York group, DLG (Dark Latin Groove). Notice how full of instrumentation and vocals this song is, it does sound faster and busier. The result is a song that goes well with numerous patterns and tricks. However, it is double edged, because such a pace can leave both dancers exhausted if sustained throughout. For that matter, pace is important. A compromise of flash and simplicity is a good practice…at least so you can dance longer between water breaks.

    I hope you can see what I mean when I say that salsa is danced at different tempos and styles. Next time you just want to throw all your big tricks non-stop, or chillax and keep it simple throughout, be sure to listen to the music…it is there as more than just a backdrop to your amazing skill.

    Sigan Bailando!


    You can dance salsa at different tempos and styles…part 1

    Listen to these songs:

    Los Sitio Asere (Afro Cuban All Stars): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqKu369wP1Q
    Pinar Del Rio (Celia Cruz): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsNPELxQnhQ
    Exitos De Siempre (Alquimia): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJxmYjdIYkQ
    Sombra Loca (Gilberto Sta. Cruz): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvzFexhhFKg
    Juliana (DLG): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz0YkiYBQlo

    Every one of these is a salsa, which I’m sure you can tell, but did you notice how each has a different sound? ‘But a salsa is a salsa, they’re all the same,’ you might say. Its true that the components of salsa are pretty uniform, but individual songs as a whole can be vastly different. So, what’s the point, why do I even mention this? Well, the answer is simply because as lovers of salsa music and dance, we should be able to distinguish. Picture this: you go into a club and watch everyone on the dance floor and you suddenly notice someone dancing technically sound salsa yet still off in some way.

    More often than not, the thing that is off is that the dancing doesn’t match the music. In other words, the person is so concerned with pulling out all the tricks that they’re not really dancing with the music. Some songs have a rhythm and speed that make it alright to pull out all your fancy moves (ie. Juliana) but some others are just fine with a more tranquil pace and sporadic tricks (ie. Sombra Loca).

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should be creative and experiment on the dance floor, just try to remember that as your ear grows more discerning, you’ll be able to recognize that their are parts of a song where its ok to be keep it simple. Its common upon learning new moves that you just want to use them all the time, we’ve all done it. But to move from a strong technical dancer to a strong dancer, keep an ear open to the musicality.

    Keep the songs mentioned in mind because next time we’ll discuss differences in the origins of a song and how Caribbean and Latin American salsa differs from North American salsa.

    Sigan Bailando!