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Cuban Music ABCs of Cuban Music

 Cuban musicianCuban music was born at the crossroads between old Europe, Africa and the New World.

The multitude of musical genres that make up Cuban music (cucaracha, habanera, mambo, comparsa, etc.) are a part of Cubans' daily lives.

In the early 16th century, in the wake of the conquistadors, European musicians found and used primitive instruments left by the Indians, such as dried calabashes filled with seeds with a stick for a handle: the maracas, and the guiro, a piece of hollowed out wood with grooves cut into its sides which the musician rubs with a stick.

The massive arrival of African slaves who were brought to harvest (zafra) in the sugar plantations, in the 16th century would change Cuban music forever.

Cuban music would be born from the progressive encounter of slave traditions brought from Africa and those of the white populations from Europe.

French and Italian tunes, Spanish romances, quadrillles, tangos, flamencos would mix with African and Amerindian music (percussion, polyphony)...

Properly speaking, real Cuban music did not appear until the early part of the 20th century with the contradanza cubana and its derivative the danzon, choreographed dances whose roots are in French ballroom dances and contredances.

It's in this environment that son (pronounced "sonne") music was born, the first Cuban musical creation.

Cuban band

The first Cuban revolution to break out was a musical one. The turn toward a revolutionary regime turned the country upside down and along with it the career of many artists, but the music never stopped.

The contredanza cubana, a ballroom dance, is enhanced with vocals and percussion that play according to their own rhythms.

There are two songs that you will be sure to hear if you ever go to Cuba "El commandante Che Guevara" and "Guantanamera".

The rhythms of Cuban music roar like the V8 engines of the American cars that can be found all over the island. Cuban musical styles mix with one another to form new sounds: guaracha-son, bolero-son, guaguanco-son any kind of combination is possible: bolero-blues by Compay Segundo, son-afro from the Afro Cuban All Stars, cha-flamenco, samba-cha, swing-cha by Orquesta Aragon.

The music of Cuba is one of the most exported in the world. It came back into style thanks to musicians like Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer...

Cuban drummer

For more than a century, Cuba has exporting its rhythms, talent and songs all over the world.
Africa and Europe (Spain, France...) are the birthplaces of Cuban music.

For three centuries, Cuba was the center for the comings and goings of song and dance from Andalusia, Africa, America, the Caribbean and France.

Africa, and more specifically Nigeria, constitutes the birthplace of the Yoruba and the Santeria religion.

The Aira Kere, encricled with small bells, is the drum dedicated to Shongo, a Santerian deity, the Yoruban counterpart of Zeus.

The drum is sometimes covered with a bante, a piece of fabric in the colors attributed to each god. Each saint has his own rhythm and song. Shongo's color is red. 


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