10 Tropical Traditions for Temperate Climates


Listen Up

Musical styles in the tropics are as diverse as the countries they originate from. Music tells the story of a country, revealing the influences and history of its people and heritage. When you're living inside more than outside, let these musical styles transport you to a warm setting that will take your cares away. Here is a sampling of musical styles from all over the tropical globe. Take a listen and pick your favorites -- you won't be disappointed:

  • Ska: Born in the 1950s in Jamaica from a blend of New Orleans rhythm and blues and native Caribbean music, ska is fun and upbeat music with a large brass section, jazzy guitar and African-American vocal harmonies [source: Scaruffi].
  • Son: It may be a mysterious country to many of us, but Cuba has a long and well-documented history of producing musical styles that have worldwide influence. The foundation of many of these is "Son," developed around 1800 as a direct response to both African slaves entering Cuba and the Spanish who brought them there. Son is distinctive in its use of the "call and response" music and signing style, as well as heavy bass and a five-note clave (drumming pattern). Son eventually became the basis for salsa music in many countries [source: National Geographic].
  • Bossa Nova: This music was born in the late-1950s by the hot, white sand beaches of Rio de Janeiro. The ultimate chill-out music, bossa nova, which means "new way" in Portuguese, features soft rhythms with usually just a guitar, drums and vocals [source: Bossa 5-0].
  • Panamanian folklore music: Panama is a very patriotic country, and its folkloric music is featured in the many parades and celebrations its citizens take part in. Typical folkloric music is famous for having drums, an accordion, drums and a singer commonly known as cantalante (singing in front of the group) [source: Panama Culture].