Then in the 16th century, the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors arrived and brought with them their European music, instruments (like the guitar) and their African slaves. Spanish music at that time was itself influenced by the Moors and this music, combined with both the indigenous music and the music of the slaves saw the birth of Latin American music.
In fact, African music and in particular, drumming became the single most recognisable element of this fusion. During the slave era, drumming was used as a form of communication and was one of the few ‘rights’ that slaves retained despite their harsh day to day existence.
The guitar, along with the güiro (a notched, hollowed-out gourd percussion instrument that is believed to have been brought over to Latin America with the slaves) also played key roles in the music of the region. At busy ports all around South America, Central America and the Caribbean, slaves and the local population mingled and exchanged their musical rhythms, dances and songs. This was heard most commonly in styles like samba, salsa, merengue, bachata, and timba.