African music had a massive emphasis on rhythm. It’s no accident that some of the most notable Latin and Caribbean songs have been dance music. It’s the product of the original African beats, which had a complexity that was novel against the measured meters of popular European music of the era. African music included complex rhythms called polyrhythms , where more than one beat would come together. They were also characterized by an interaction of regular beats and offbeat syncopated notes. This illustration from 1595 shows African slaves processing sugarcane on a Caribbean plantation. Beginning in the 16th century, the Spanish imported millions of slaves fromWest Africa to work in Cuba and their other Caribbean colonies. Today, it is estimated that approximately 35 percent of Cubans are descended from African slaves.
Latin and Caribbean
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