The Origins of 7 Key Latin Music Genres

Most of what is known as Latin music comes from the melding of cultures that took place during the Spanish and Portuguese colonization of the Americas. Musicians of various races and cultures came into contact with instruments they’d never heard before—the European guitar, African conga and tambora drums, native gaita flutes and maracas—and by combining their sounds, created a wide range of forms and styles.

Those sound combinations traveled throughout the hemisphere—and later the world—acquiring new subtleties and variations, and continuing to morph into exciting new musical forms. Here’s how seven Latin major music genres emerged: