Difference between salsa and timba?

Discussion in 'Salsa Music' started by El Conguero, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. El Conguero

    El Conguero Tumbao

    OK, I know this sounds like a dumb question, especially coming from a musician - but what exactly is the difference between salsa and timba?

    From what I've seen online, the timba pattern on congas is like a well-filled tumbao (a 4/4 pattern used in most salsa). Also the few timba songs I've heard use a piano and brass section like salsa. So I really don't see a huge difference aside from its origin or traditions.

    It's my understanding that timba is a very Cuban style of music that incorporates kick and snare drums and is very fast. But then again some ppl are doing that with salsa. So...? lol

    Thanks all,
    "El Conguero"
  2. El Minotauro

    El Minotauro Sonero

    The primary difference seems to be the full battery of drums that timba uses. This makes it sound a bit "busy" to my ears.
    El Caobo likes this.
  3. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    One big difference- if you listen for timba for too long you get brain damage.
    Hanginon, LarsM, gabe0725 and 2 others like this.
  4. salsa4fun

    salsa4fun Sonero

    In Timba the piano is usually more accented that in other genres of Salsa...
  5. DJ Ara

    DJ Ara Clave Commander

    Personally speaking of course, Timba (with a very few exceptions) gives me a profound headache that takes me to the point of wishing a quick death, for the pain to stop.

    I guess,and I am referring to DJ Yuca's post, as well, it may mean that brain damage is imminent if the music continues playing...LOL!
    LarsM, gabe0725, DJ Yuca and 2 others like this.
  6. Shines

    Shines Sonero

    I prefer bachata over timba
    El Caobo likes this.
  7. sunsoul

    sunsoul Shine Officer

    I find it interesting that a lot of the original Latin vibes and musical styles like merengue, timba and even bachata to some extent seem to come up against some kind of *cultural* resistance in the West, and all these comments about this kind of music being "hard to listen to," "noisy," or "monotonous," (especially with the first two) continually arise. Is this some sort of cultural desensitisation? As the music spreads it moves away from its roots, and takes on new shapes?

    Maybe with Western music we are more attuned to melody rather than rhythm or something. I am sure the musical experts would have something to say about that....
    Marcos and MAMBO_CEC like this.
  8. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    I disagree Sunsoul - to my ears timba takes too much influence from contemporary Western music, which is one of the reasons why it sounds so intolerable to many of us.

    Salsa basically follows a formula from the 70s, even with new releases, and to my ears has much more in common with traditional Cuban music than timba does. I can listen to the likes of Arsenio Rodriguez, Benny More, Mongo Santamaria (especially his 50s recordings), Guillermo Portabales and Sierra Maestra for (literally) hours on end, whereas after a couple of timbas I'm in pain. I'm sure that every timba musician knows traditional Cuban music far better than I do, yet musically they are too far away from it.

    I think that the reason is that there was a big gap in Cuban music between the son and timba. In the 70s what music was Cuba producing? (I know that Cubans in the US were making son and salsa, including some amazing recordings, but I'm referring to in Cuba.) Timba had not appeared, they weren't making, or appreciating US style salsa, as far as I know the popular music of the 70s was more inspired by Western rock, whilst the son was by then for the older generations. So when the Cubans began producing their response to salsa - timba - in the late 80s, there had been a gap of several generations since the son had been the main form of music, consequently the music is too far removed from the roots for people like me who like some music with their music.

    I'm no expert though, I'm simply trying to come up with an explanation that fits what little facts I know.

    Whenever I have been to Cuban nights I have never heard even one tune from before the 90s, simply because the Cuban music of before 20 years ago (I'm not including US Cuban music) is not suitable for salsa dancing. (Admittedly I know Ibrahim Ferrer did some salsa dura style recordings in Cuba in the early 80s, but they are very atypical, and certainly don't seem to be appreciated by the Cuban audience because they are so far removed from other Cuban music.)
    TwoCentsTipper and El Caobo like this.
  9. sunsoul

    sunsoul Shine Officer

    I am not expert either, but I don't hear the Western influence in timba, or the rock! Timba seems to have a fairly strong African rhythmical element to it, but I could never pin that down with any accuracy.

    I am sure Terence can put us to rights...
    Marcos likes this.
  10. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    lets look at the preposition that " All Mambo is Salsa but,, not ALL salsa is mambo".. quoted by a famous musician...

    I would agree, that much of the 40/50s music doesnt fit well with todays renditions.. however.. there are many songs that are quite adaptable to some of todays " style " of dance.. and, yes, they dont have that " modern " sound ( even after remixes ).. what does not work well, are many of the variations danced in that period. they just dont seem to " gel " as well..

    So, a "broad brush" really should not exclude all the past older music from that era.( listen to the original Micaela for e.g. .. updated version or older ? )..

    As to Timba, I look at it as one more choice ..( by the by I know many Cubanos who cant stand Colombian style Salsa )
    Marcos likes this.
  11. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    All the African musicians I have heard who have made Latin music have made salsa or son, not timba. I'm quite Afrocentric, and enjoy a lot of African music (particularly traditional rhythms and Afro funk), yet as I said earlier, timba in any quantity is torturous to me.

    Timba seems to be heavily influenced by contemporary rock, pop and hip hop, genres I have no affection for (well hip hop had some great moments from its inception in the early 70s until around 15 years ago, likewise there was some great rock in the 70s, The Steve Miller Band being the best example, but after the 70s - no thanks).

    If it's presented in this manner i.e. as part of a mix of styles, meaning a larger and more diverse group of people are catered to, then I'm fine with it too, indeed I do play a few if I'm DJing to a typical mixed audience.

    Interestingly, the only 2 timba tunes that I really love I have never heard played out (except by myself): Dejenme Llorar and Para Bailar Casino by Adelberto Alvarez Y Su Son, particularly the former track - an outstanding recording. Considering some of the timba dross I have heard played instead . . .
  12. sunsoul

    sunsoul Shine Officer

    What about Adalberto Alvarez's other famous album - Gozando En La Habana. I think you liked that, and I have heard others say the same..... Is this watered down timba more suitable to the mainstream consumer? What makes it different?

    Charanga Habanera are another popular timba band. Do you have much time for them?
  13. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Were in a different sub set now with Charanga ( which I really like ) it can however sometimes get heavy on the cumbia accent, that pulse type rhythm ( the thing that ironically some of the cuban dancers I know, dont like )
    Marcos likes this.
  14. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    I'm going to have to check 'Gozando . . .'; I did attempt to enlarge my Adalberto Alvarez collection by purchasing Jugando Con Candela, to be honest I think it's [struggles and fails to think of a suitable polite word], it ended up on my pile of items to stick on Ebay.

    I have a compilation CD with a few Charanga Habanera tunes on, they're just about listenable (if I'm feeling strong), but I like some music with my music - an old fashioned requirement I know. Their name is somewhat misleading, I do like charanga but none of the tunes I've heard by them are from that genre.

    Whatever floats your boat though, and next time I attempt to enlarge my timba arsenal I will start with your suggestions.
    Marcos likes this.
  15. sunsoul

    sunsoul Shine Officer

    Timba with some bounce:


    A list of some of the top timba bands:

  16. El Caobo

    El Caobo Maestro 'Salsa' Palmieri

    Yuca, I agree with all you wrote except the above excerpt. My understanding is that the evolution of salsa in the U.S. was much more inspired by big band jazz than by rock.

    Until now, I have never heard of a rock influence. Please elaborate a bit more about the "Western rock" inspiration that you speak of.
  17. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    I was referring solely to popular music in Cuba in the 70s, not salsa in the US, which was most definitely influenced by jazz as you state.
    Marcos likes this.
  18. El Caobo

    El Caobo Maestro 'Salsa' Palmieri

    Oh, now I understand. Thanks!
  19. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    I expect there was a little bit of a rock influence in the US salsa though, Larry Harlow did a salsa response to The Who's Tommy after all, but the rock thing was more influential on the boogaloo/Latin soul/Latin funk side.
  20. bailar y tocar

    bailar y tocar Clave Commander

    All the posts in this thread (so far with one exception) are from ppl who hate timba so I can't imagine it would be helpful if you were actually wanting to know what the difference is. Its like asking me what the difference between reggaeton and hip-hop is and my answer would be "I hate both equally and leave the venue when they start playing it" (a true statement).

    So here goes from someone who likes timba much much more than classic salsa..

    There is a musicologist perspective on what is timba and what makes it different on timba.com but I can't get into trying to understand the notation of bass patterns, horn lines, piano montunos & tumbaos, and what classic salsa fans call a change in clave direction and timba fans call gear changes.

    What I can get into is the that from a dancer's perspective I can tell immediately within about one bar if I am dancing with a true timbera (follower) or dancing with someone who can keep up but is not really dancing in the rhythm. There are a lot of side rhythms that happen in the more eclectic timba tunes that dancers can reflect on if they want to. It doesn't happen with the footwork, that almost always stays the same, it happens with other body movement. The best timba dancers tend to be ppl who have done a lot of afro-cuban dancing specifically to the folkloric rhythms, not the Orisha rhythms. Many of the folkloric rhythms have these countering rhythms that overlay and "run" against the main rhythm. Btw, there are plenty of timba tunes, some good, some not, that are and sound just like any old generic salsa, nothing special there. The vast majority of Maykel Blanco y su Salsamayor, Calle Real, Havana NRG, Manolito y su Trabuco and many others would not be identified as timba in a regular club setting. LVV would be identified only because the group and their songs are well known. The type of timba songs that drive classic salsa fans completely crazy are from Bamboleo, Charanga Habanera (not a charanga group at all contrary to previous posts, they kept the name of the group after they switched genres) Klimax and to a lesser extent Pupy Y Los Que Son Son and Havana d'Primera.
    Marcos and MAMBO_CEC like this.

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