Performance Studies in Latin Music

The performance studies in Latin music minor will enhance a student's knowledge of the rhythms and techniques of Latin music, while also exploring the sociological, political, and anthropological contexts in which Latin music's various contingencies developed. Designed for all instruments and ensemble ratings, the minor includes both foundational rhythm courses as well as more specific advanced ensembles for different subsets of Latin music, including Brazilian, Caribbean, Afro-Cuban, and others. Global Sight Reading and Advanced Rhythmic Solfege, Bata Rhythms and Afro-Cuban Ceremonial Drumming, and Survey of Latin American Hand Percussion are just some of the labs and ensembles that are a part of this minor. Students will also choose from a variety of history and analysis and liberal arts classes to enhance their knowledge of Latin music's diverse range, such as Contemporary South American Music and Cuban Culture, Music, and Society, as well as Latin music-specific harmony and writing courses to deepen their aural and structural understanding of the genre. Upon completion of this minor, students will have a well-developed understanding of both the performance aspects of Latin music and the history and cultures from which it was born and continues to thrive. Learn more about Latin music at Berklee.

Entrance Requirements


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of a minor in performance studies in Latin music, students will:

  • Play Latin rhythmic patterns (e.g. clave) on a variety of percussion instruments
  • Demonstrate the ability to play in Latin ensembles of varying size, instrumentation, and stylistic emphasis
  • Understand differences and similarities among Latin musical styles of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America
  • Understand the role of each individual instrument in the context of Latin music
  • Compose music in a variety of Latin styles
  • Improvise in a variety of Latin styles
  • Synthesize knowledge of Latin music history and repertory into one's own personal performance 
Read more about this program

10-12 credits (6 courses) required for the minor.

Required course: LSOC-P260 Cuban Music, Culture, and Society Percussion Lab (choose one from the following): ILPD-357: South American Rhythms for Drum Set ILPD-373: Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Rhythms for Drum Set ILPD-424: Caribbean Rhythms for Drum Set ILPH-293: Afro-Caribbean Rhythms and Percussion for Non-Percussionists ILPH-354: Bata Rhythms/Afro-Cuban Ceremonial Drumming Lab ILPH-357: Afro-Caribbean Rhythms and Percussion ILPH-359: Brazilian Rhythms and Percussion ILPH-371: Advanced Afro-Cuban Rhythms and Percussion ILPH-429: Contemporary Techniques for Pop Percussion ILPH-459: Brazilian Rhythms and Percussion 2 PFSS-347: Survey of Latin American Hand Percussion Styles Ensemble (choose one from the following): ENGB-220: South American Folkloric Music ENGB-301: Caribbean Music ENLT-200: Introduction to Latin Jazz ENLT-201: Brazilian Instrumental ENLT-220: Latin/Afro-Cuban Styles ENLT-221: Brazilian Instrumental Rating 4 ENLT-222: Afro-Cuban Music Rating 4 ENLT-223: Afro-Cuban Folkloric Music ENLT-300: Latin/Afro-Cuban Jazz ENLT-301: Brazilian Instrumental ENLT-320: Afro-Cuban Music Rating 6 ENLT-400: The Music of the Dominican Republic ENLT-401: Salsa Ensemble ENLT-402: Latin Jazz Originals ENMX-315: Studio Recording Ensemble ENPH-291: Berklee Steelpan Ensemble PSIM-341: Improvisation in the Latin/Jazz Idiom Latin Music History (choose one from the following): LHAN-342: Contemporary South American Music LHAN-345: Music and Cultures of Africa, Latin America, and South America PSW-345: Seminar on Latin American Music PSW-361: Brazilian Music Styles Elective Courses (choose two from the following): CW-P217: Writing in Folkloric Latin Styles CW-225: Writing in Salsa Styles CW-P313: Advanced Writing in Latin Styles ENPN-246: Afro-Cuban Piano Montunos Ensemble HR-241: Harmony in Brazilian Song ILBS-261: Intro to Latin Jazz Bass Playing ILBS-262: Brazilian Bass Lab ILBS-361: Latin Bass Lines ILBS-364: Bass Lab Sight-Reading Latin Rhythms ILGT-360: Advanced Brazilian Guitar Styles ILPH-391: Steelpan Techniques for Percussionists ILPN-243: Advanced Stylistic Comping - Latin ILPN-P247: Improvisation in Afro-Cuban Piano ILWD-345: Brazilian and Latin Flute Lab PSBS-P345: Latin Jazz Masters 

Assessment Evidence

1. Performance. Students are required to play in both percussion ensembles and in larger, style-oriented ensembles.

2. Arrangements. Students arrange standard Latin repertory for the Guest Artist Series, Latin Musical Icons.

3. Compositions. Students produce original compositions as a final project in both labs and academic courses.

4. Recordings. Students participate in recordings of standard Latin repertory and original compositions.

5. Transcriptions. Students transcribe music for different band formations and Latin styles

6. Research papers and presentations.