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Where have the names of the rhythms gone?



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After attending a recent showing of the film ‘La Epoca’, I realized something that was under my nose all of the time but hadn’t really registered with me before. One of the key points of that movie is that what is called ‘Salsa’ now once covered over a dozen distinct rhythms, knowledge of which has often been lost today both to musicians and dancers. As I was going through my Songo and Timba collection for other reasons, something jumped out at me. In the early days of Timba, groups like NG La Banda named the rhythms of their songs (carrying on an already-existing Cuban tradition of doing this generally for dance music). Pop open a more recent timba recording though (especially from off-island labels), and this practice has all but stopped for a lot of the bands. On the one hand, it might be easy to say “Who cares if it has a good beat and you can dance to it?”. I wonder, though: is the recording industry setting up the current generation to be ‘dumbed down’ about the music by not sharing the rhythms being played in the new releases? Anyone else have any thoughts about this?

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