Quick Tip: Salsa Beat Machine

This week’s Quick Tip will introduce you to another of your new dance best friends, the Salsa Beat Machine! If you’ve ever been completely flummoxed by how you’re supposed to distinguish a single beat out of the cacophony of instruments making up a salsa band, all of which seems to be following a different rhythm, this little online tool is about to make your life much easier.

The Salsa Beat Machine is akin to a really cool salsa metronome. Once you start the application, you will be able to explore each instrument in a salsa band, play with timing, chords and melodies, and even have the machine count the beat for you.

The interface allows you to control the volume of each individual instrument; this means you can study the rhythm of the congas, clave, timbales etc in isolation, or you can pick two or three instruments at a time to become familiar with how they interact. You can also speed up or slow down the machine to get used to different song speeds, change the main key of the melody, switch between 2/3 and 3/2 clave, and have a variety of different visualization tools to help you figure out how all the instruments work together.

If doing this on your computer isn’t quite fun enough, there’s an app version for both Android and iOS. And if you are technologically inclined, you can even download an XML version of the machine and extend it.

Even more fun: the creator of the Salsa Beat Machine is also a salsa instructor, and his blog offers helpful articles and videos to help you feel the rhythm and introduce you to the concept of musicality in dancing.

So, if you need a bit of help understanding the salsa beat, or even if you feel like playing around with a salsa band without having to know how to play an instrument, go to www.salsabeatmachine.org.

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