The Gringo’s E-Guide Discussion Forum


I welcome all feedback and discussion about ‘The Gringo’s E-Guide to Salsa Piano’ in the comments on this page.

The only rule here is respect – for each other, for me, and of course for the music! 🙂

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16 comments on “The Gringo’s E-Guide Discussion Forum

  1. That wad a question that ive had and am so thankful for your extensive answer…ive often wondered if I should be playing a chord over one of the badic montunos 1 and 2 amd more.

    Love your ebook Vanessa. So helpful for those of us who so want to use our inborn talents but need guidance.

    Peace xo

  2. Hey Vanessa,

    I’ve purchased your ebook – it’s great, thanks making that!

    I’ve only got one question: There’s Montuno#1, Montuno#2, … do you mix them all into one song? Or do you only use Montuno#1 for only one song but with many variations, Montuno#2 for another song with many variations, etc..?


    • Hello Thomas,

      Thank you very much for your comment, I´m happy to hear you´re enjoying the salsa ebook 🙂

      This is a very good question, pretty much worthy of a whole other book!!

      But I will try to answer you as best I can here …

      After listening to a lot of Salsa and Cuban music, you will have a better sense of what to play where. Montuno #1 is very traditional and would be suitable for a band playing Buena Vista Social Club songs for example, but would pretty much never fit in a Mark Anthony-style arrangement, so there´s that.

      That´s what I mean by ´speaking´ salsa … there are no concrete rules per-se, you just get used what sounds right/appropriate after listening to a lot of this music, a lot like speaking a foreign language. You can visit a foreign country and get by reciting basic standard phrases from a phrase book with a strong accent, or you can go live in that country for a few years and blend in with the locals/speak slang with the kids in the street. There are different levels of fluency.

      In any case, back on topic … you normally don´t have to feel obliged to only one montuno for a whole song unless it´s reaaaaallly traditional and calls for that kind of rigidity. Which is rare. Lloraras by Oscar de Leon for example seems to call for a bit less variation than many other songs do, so I only usually play 2 different montunos in that one. The one for the verse, and the one for the piano break until the end.

      You mention ´variations´… do we mean by melody or by harmony? A melodic ´variation´ might mean a different but similar tumbao. And if it is, does it matter if we call it a different one or a variation? Different harmonic motion usually forces us to play something quite different than simply varying the melody.

      *** something very fundamental that I should definitely address is that it´s important to have a grasp of the chord progressions that you are going to play … the montunos in the book are idiomatic examples of what you can play over particular chord progressions, and that can be extrapolated to other progressions.

      For example the progressions that go Dm-G7-Cm-F7 (or variations thereof) can be broken down in little chunks of II-V (ex Dm7-G7) and any montuno that works over that can be played that way over any progression that has a II-V motion … you can do that over Bbm7-Eb7 or Em-A7 for example.

      But yes in order to do this you have to have a good understanding of the harmony you will be playing the montuno over.

      I hope that starts to answer your excellent question.

  3. Hi Vanessa,

    I only have a beginners understanding of musical notation and I’m struggling to understand cut time as described on page 5. I have googled and youtubed but I’m still struggling.

    There are two bars written on page 5.
    Each bar has eight 8th notes.
    Cut time is 2 beats to the bar with a half note getting the beat.
    A half note = four 8th notes
    So if the half note gets the beat then four half notes get the beat
    But the ‘Tip’ states “The is at 120 This means you will clap 2x for every click”
    So that’s 120 bpm, 2 beats per bar
    But there are eight 8th notes written so shouldn’t it be clap 4x for every click (or beat)?

    Other than my frustration at not understanding this I’m really enjoying the book!


    • Hi Glyn, thank you for your question.

      Perhaps I could have explained it better in the book, but the idea is that although we ultimately feel salsa in cut time (and that’s why it’s written in cut time), I slow things down for the purpose of learning, so you can consider everything in the book to be in 4/4. The counting is always the same, it’s just the ‘feel’ that is different (mathematically, 2/2 is the same as 4/4, but you are correct, in an actual 2/2 feel, the metronome would be on the half note and not the quarter note).

      So the short version of my reply, and hopefully the part that will help you the most, is that the 120 beats/minute are meant to be on the quarter note. So when you are clapping the 8th notes, you are clapping 2 for every beat at 120 beats. So your individual claps would be at 240 and not at 480.

      Read all examples as if they are 4/4, and put the quarter note at 120.
      All of the video examples are also done at quarter note=120 so what you’re reading should match up when you play along with the video.

      I hope this helps clear up your question.
      Best wishes to you and please don’t hesitate to write again if you have any more questions – I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the ebook 🙂

  4. hi. i just purchased your piano montuno E-guide! i look forward to spending time on it. 🙂 but i would like to ask if you know where i can find sheet music for old mambo / salsa songs like noro morales or charlie palmieri, hear all these great classic songs, but i have no direction on how to go about finding such music and there beautiful piano compositions. im glad that your e-guide resources are available as a start!

    any info, much appreciated! and thank you

    • Hi Will! Thank you for your feedback, and this is an excellent question. I would start with the Latin Realbook (Sher Music); there are a lot of great classic Salsa, Brazilian and Latin Jazz songs – lead sheets with very clear melodies, harmonies, lyrics, and even some arrangements with principal horn lines.

      (note – I am not affiliated in any way with Sher Music, I just think some of their products are top notch and worth having.)

      When I want to learn a piece of music that doesn’t have an obvious, easy-to-get sheet music version, I usually just transcribe it myself, but I realize this can be a very frustrating and time-consuming process for many people and perhaps not ideal for everyone. Another result of this is that I have no idea where to get sheet music for most things.

      But yes, the Latin Realbook is an excellent resource and would be a good start, though I will definitely keep my eyes open for publications of other and/or older classic mambo/salsa and post here if & when I find out more.


  5. Hola Vanessa,

    When I searched online for piano montunos, yours just blew me away. You play AWESOME piano montunos-just like I want to.

    Okay, so I purchased both your products but as a beginner, I need to see and hear the videos over and over again. I am wanting to learn each of the 7 montunos one by one. I nailed montuno #2 with out the octave….see, its taking me time to learn between my job and everything else.

    I want to join this latin band, but I need atleast these 7 montunos under my belt.

    That said, please send me the link again for the videos so I can access it for each one I need to learn.

    Thanking you in advance,
    C. Serrano

  6. I buy today your salsa- ebook thru PayPal in my Mini Ipad,but I cant download it to the Ipad. Can you send me a link thru my email to download , Miguel A. my PC. Thanks. Best Regards

    • Hi Miguel! Thanks so much! Yes, the download file is a .zip so it may not open properly on tablets.

      Plus it’s over 300Mb so please make sure the entire download is complete before attempting to open it.

      I’ve reactivated the link, please let me know if you have any more difficulty … thanks!


    • Hi, I also bough today (june 21 2015) your salsa- ebook + mp3 tracks via PayPal in my Ipad,but I cant download it to the Ipad I did pay via paypal. Can you send me a link thru my email to download ……Thanks. Best Regards

      • Hello Daniel,

        My apologies for not seeing this message sooner, were you finally able to download successfully?

        It has come to my attention from several customers that the downloads aren’t working on tablets or smart phones.

        E-junkie, the download platform, is still developing a tablet and smart-phone compatible interface but for now, do you have access to a normal laptop or desktop PC/mac? The download will certainly work from one of those machines.

        My apologies for the inconvenience, please let me know if you have any further difficulty.

  7. I have mine now, was waiting for it! Many thanks. It’s so very to-the-point, get you up-and-running! Much easier to get some good from than other salsa piano books I collected before!

    • Wonderful! I’m happy to hear it! That was really my aim with this, it’s not a PhD thesis on music theory and the history of salsa, it’s a tool to help you get through and ultimately enjoy your salsa jams/gigs! Have fun!!

  8. Hello Vanessa
    I bought your E-book last night as soon as I found out it was available and was able to download it to my computer and I was able to open up the PDF book but was unable to open and play any of the videos, is there something I’m not doing right.

    Best Regards

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