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Cuba Music

Cuban music dates back from the history of Cuba itself that is the landing of Christopher Columbus on the island by the year 1492. The Taino and the Siboney, the autochthones of Cuba, had their own music the areitos and musical instrument the mayohoacan a big drum used on the occasion of religious ceremonies. The guiro and the maracas were adopted by the African slaves who had the same instrument in Africa their native continent.

The Cuban music came to life with the meeting of the two continents the Europe and Africa. The slaves on the ship imported their music from the black continent and the white population coming mainly from Spain brought theirs. The various types and styles of Cuban music can be explained by the different regions from which originated the Cuban population. The African slaves came Congo, Bantu, Madingas, Lucumi, Carabalis and Arara. The Spanish came from Castile in the first influx then from the province of Galicia, Catalonia and the Canary Islands. All of these groups had their own music, tradition, beliefs and language.

The history of music innovations began with the meeting of the Afro-Cuban first. The interplay between the different African ethnic groups/tribes brought large number of percussion instruments: the clave, the congas and batá drum. With the Cabildos musicians though still enslaved of the various ethnic groups were allowed to participate only in the street carnivals. This enabled them to preserve the African cultural tradition though they were forced to assimilate with the Catholic Church.

The meeting with the sugar cane and tobacco plantation owners’ music created a second phase in the development of the Cuban music. The Chinese immigrant also brought their contribution to the Cuban music the ‘cornetin chino’ or the Chinese cornet a Chinese wind instrument. Music plays a significant part in the life of Cubans. All types of music are popular the classical the campesina musica and the rhumba. Deeply rooted in the Cabildos, the Cuban music, the son, the rumba (or the Americanised term rhumba), Mambo, Chachacha, Bolero, Mozambique, Pilon, Dengue a caballo and Mosanch, is danced sang and played simultaneously. Son is Afro Cuban music with poetic Spanish lyric accompanied with the guitar; Mambo, known and danced in the whole world, also uses the African rhythm; the Chachacha is same as Mambo but with a much slower rhythm; there are three types of rhumbas: the guaguanco which is more recent and known; the Yamba commonly name the oldies dance because it is slow and the Columbia. Mozambique started made its apparition in 1963, it does not originate from the country of the same name but is a Cuban music and dance genre using African instruments the drum, the Cuban conga drum and saxophone.

Many great musical minds and music composers namely Ernesto Lecuona, Joaquin Nin and Ignacio Cervantes have brought Cuban music on the international scene. There has also a ‘classical’ Cuban music. This music, of high standards though having some with strong European influences, was much inspired by the Afro Cuban and Spanish music which prevailed in Cuba.

The Cuban music contributed to the development of salsa, jazz, Argentinean tango, the West Africa afro beat and Spanish Nuevo flamenco.
The Cuban music was influenced in the 20th century by French, American and Jamaican.

With the 1959 revolution, the evolution of the Cuban music was halted. Many musicians Olga Guito, Xioman Alfaro, Rolando Contreras and Nico Membiela among others left the island when Castro seized power. They fled the repression of the Castrist regime. Those who stayed were Benny Moré because of his fear of planes and his white counterpart Roberto Faz. But the invasion of the Bay of Pigs in 1960 brought another era with the breakdown of the diplomatic relationships between the US and Cuba. Less US visa to Cuban nationals were delivered.

A year after the revolution, in 1960, all radios televisions were nationalised and started the period of acute censorship in Cuba. The blacklisted musicians were denied on air and the music industry went in the hands of the governmental forces. The creativity of Cuban nationals suffered much after having been so healthy. The musicians were condemned to sing in Cafés, serenades in birthdays and those working in the radio or television perceived a salary. However, the guitarist Leo Brouwer innovated in classical guitar meaning that even within the Castrist era, the creativity of Cuban is still of actuality.





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