Mambo, Samba and Rhumba

Reply Sat 21 May, 2011 07:36 pm
How can a listener tell the difference between a Mambo, a Samba and a Rhumba. What "Easy Listening" standards are mambos, Sambas or Rhumbas?
View best answer, chosen by Woollcott
Reply Sat 21 May, 2011 07:51 pm
A well learned person with a good ear for music probably could. I'm sure I couldn't because I simply don't listen to Mambo, Samba and Rhumba based music.

But what the heck perchance are "Easy Listening" standards?
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Reply Sat 21 May, 2011 08:16 pm
The combination of info in these two excerpts should help:


Samba is a Brazilian style that is connected to the Carnival.

Mambo is a Cuban dance rhythm. It's usually played at a fairly bright tempo. Think Tito Puente.

Rumba is a term that covers a variety of Cuban rhythms (mambo is not one of them). It's completely different from the ballroom dance rhythm called rumba (or sometimes rhumba).

All of these rhythms are traditionally played on a variety of percussion instruments, and have been adapted to the drum set.


Rumba is a slow 4/4 time romantic dance with flirtatious movements. The American Style Rumba is danced with the “box” step pattern to a slow-quick-quick timing with Cuban Motion (hip movements). This dance is often called the “dance of love”. Rumba is a spot dance and therefore does not travel around the room. International rumba is more highly styled and is commonly seen in ballroom dance competitions.

Samba is an energetic, fun rhythm. It is characterized by the basic “Samba Bounce “ and many of the popular Latin songs today are Sambas. The dance is written in two quarter time and is basically counted 1 a 2. This is a dance which makes dancers and non-dancers alike want to get up and move to the contagious pulsating rhythm.

Mambo is an exciting dance that has patterns in common with other Latin dances. It is a flirty and fun social dance. The steps are small and are taken on the ball of the foot with the knees flexible to allow for the hip action. Salsa is a street version of Mambo. Musically the main difference is that Mambo music holds on the one beat and Salsa music hits on the one beat. The steps are pretty much the same. In Mambo more time is spent in closed hold and the man breaks on 2. In Salsa more time is spent in a two handed or open position and the man breaks on 1.

Whether you call it Mambo or Salsa, it is fun to dance.

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  Selected Answer
Reply Sat 21 May, 2011 08:43 pm
Here are some examples of each as you asked:




Reply Wed 25 May, 2011 06:35 pm
That was one heckuva an answer! Incredible. One of the best I have ever received for any question. In fact, TWO excellent answers to the same question. Many, many thanks!
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