Site Overview . Chuck Vanderchuck | PBS Parents

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Salsa music started in the 1960’s and 70’s. Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants wanted to create a music that honored their heritage and homelands, but also integrated the sounds of their new home, New York City. Using instruments such as the piano, sax, trumpet, and bass, along with percussion instruments such as congas, maracas, clave, guiro, these nuevo New Yorkers melded elements from their music back home.


Jazz started in New Orleans in the early 1900’s. As North American slaves became more cut off from their West African instruments and musical traditions, they began to adapt the musical styles of their homeland music to the folk songs and church music of their new home: America. They started learning and playing European instruments, like the piano, guitar, violin and trumpet. These musicians started to create early forms of American music, like blues, gospel and ragtime. Because New Orleans was such a melting pot of cultures and musical styles, a new form of music started to take that combined elements of blues, gospel, and ragtime. This new music became known as Jazz.


Country music started in the southern United States as early as the 19th century. European immigrants and ex-slaves of West African descent settling in the Appalaichian Mountain region started mixing the folk music they brought with them with the new experiences they were having in America to create something new. By mixing their music and using such instruments as the fiddle, dulcimer, mandolin, guitar, and banjo, country music was born.


Reggae music started in Jamaica in the late 1960’s. It developed from two earlier forms of Jamaican music: Ska and rocksteady Ska was first and fast. Rocksteady was like Ska but much slower. After awhile, musicians wanted to play something that was slower than ska, but faster than rocksteady. This is how Reggae came to be. Reggae has a 4/4 beat with guitar or piano accents on the off beats.


Rock and Roll started in the United States in the 1940’s and 50’s. Mixing elements of blues, jazz, country, and gospel, musicians took a boogie woogie rhythm and emphasized the backbeat. Then they layered on some 27 instruments like the guitar, saxophone, and bass and rock was born.

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