Visitors to A Tres Bandas peruse the dozen different types of guitars that hang in an art installation.

A Tres Bandas is a new exhibit at the Centro Cultural Espanol (Spanish Cultural Center) in Miami, running Sept. 5 to Oct. 27 2013, showcasing the genesis of different forms of Latin American music. (Ena Columbie Photo)

MIAMI — The most important thing to remember as you make your way through "A Tres Bandas," a traveling exhibit that this month made its U.S. debut at the Centro Cultural Espanol (Spanish Cultural Center) Miami, is that red is code for Africa, blue stands for Europe and yellow represents the indigenous people who inhabited the Americas first.

The exhibit showcases the 500-year evolution of music in Latin America and is part of the celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon's 1513 landing in Florida. Various combinations of the colors are presented in clever sound-wave patterns to illustrate how the three cultures merged to produce the diversity of Latin music we know today. Hence the name: "A tres bandas," which among several interpretations means "three frequencies."

Visitors begin their tour in the 20th century, with several dozen listening stations featuring styles from bolero and bossa nova to salsa and tango.

You learn, for example, that indigenous and European influences mixed to form the music of the Jesuit missions and that the Cuban "son," one of the most influential Latin American musical styles, is a marriage of Spanish song and guitar and African rhythm and percussion.

The exhibit emphasizes interactivity, such as an art installation of hanging guitars featuring the different evolutions of the Spanish guitar, from the "charango" to the "tiple" to the "requinto" and the "jarana." You are encouraged to touch and pluck the guitars in their suspended state to your heart's content.

"A Tres Bandas" is free and open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 27, at the Centro Cultural Espanol Miami, 1490 Biscayne Blvd., and by appointment. 305-448-9677, ccemiami.org.