Salsa music is rich in diversity and its compositional elements. However, despite the genre’s constant evolution, salsa songs have typical elements which help to orientate dancers by instructing them to pair up and find a song’s speed and rhythm; commence their choreography and switch up the complexity and intricacy of the patterns as the song’s speed demands; or to separate and display flashy footwork with steps called “shines”—these range from the simple to the complex; they can flow, bounce, slide, lean, or strut; they may be short or extended; and can be borrowed from swing, jazz, hip hop, and other genres of music.
The one thing all salsa shines have in common is that they they love a good mambo section in a salsa song. This is the part that follows the montuno (or chorus); it is defined by the instrumentals—the percussion and the brass—taking over the song and infusing it with high energy. While the montuno provides a cyclical and steady rhythm which is excellent for stringing together steps in interesting combinations, the mambo is held together by a steady beat with various instruments breaking off into solos to provide the song with some unpredictable but exciting experimentation.
Even though salsa songs and their structures might vary according to recording era, country or culture of origin, or their proximity to other genres, the mambo remains a compositional staple and wherever salsa dancing is enjoyed, the standard remains the same: mambo time is shine time.
Structure Of A Basic Salsa Tune—Joaquin Arteaga
Featuring Good Sho, Paola Lorenzi, Africando, FClan, Sergio George’s Salsa Giants, Gente De Zona and Marc Anthony, and CNCO, this playlist starts slowly and builds energy as it traverses its montunos towards its mambo sections, reminding salsa dancers to get ready for “shine time.”
Pegaito, El Son De Cuba—Paola Lorenzi featuring Pedro Mena Peraza
Es Para Ti Gnonnas—Africando featuring Jos Spinto
Yo Vengo De Cuba (Remix)—FClan featuring Alexander Abreu & Havana De Primera
Bajo La Tormenta—Sergio George’s Salsa Giants
La Gozadera—Gente De Zona featuring Marc Anthony