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Music in Cuba, a treasure of the nation.
The history of Cuban music is very difficult to summarize in a few words. It comes from the aborigines and the areites, goes through the marked Spanish and African influence, which is marked with a notorious roots when the drums sound.
It is without a doubt a treasure of the nation, rich, diverse, suggestive and contagious. With a mixture that, according to Fernando Ortiz, is an ajiaco, it is sung and danced not only by Cuban interpreters and groups but also spread and accepted throughout the world.
In itself, it tells the history, traditions and identity of the Cuban people of all times. Names like Miguel Matamoros, Benny Moré, Bebo Valdés, Dámaso Pérez Prado, Chano Pozo, Juan Formel, Silvio Rodríguez, Chucho Valdés, among many others, remained forever in the island’s musical memory.
Here musical genres and rhythms emerged and settled today known to all, which are an incomparable part of the nation’s cultural heritage.
As every process was not static, it evolved and went through several stages. And it has been related to all the political and social events that have occurred throughout history.
Some genres of Cuban music.
The danzón is a rhythm and at the same time a dance of Cuban origin that was created by the Matanzas composer Miguel Faílde in 1879. It became the paradigm of popular music with its characteristic rhythm. It had influence in other countries like Mexico where it is also considered part of the popular culture of that country. It is played with most wind instruments, with flute, violins, timpani and percussion.
The first danzón was called The Heights of Simpson, Faílde´s piece and it is an evolution of the Spanish contradanza introduced in Cuba in the 18th century.
Ballroom dance that over time assimilated sounds of the son and the son montuno. Thus, when the great orchestras emerged, the danzón gained many admirers in the first decades of the century. It is considered the national dance of Cuba, and its influence has been fundamental for the evolution of Cuban popular music.
Rhythm emerged in the late 30s of the 20th century. Its founders were the brothers Israel Cachao and Orestes López, although many attribute the authorship of the genre to Pérez Prado.
Great musicians made significant contributions to the rhythm, such as Arsenio Rodríguez, Dámaso Pérez Prado and Benny Moré. Its evolution gave rise to Chachachá.
Cha Cha Cha.
Chachachá is a genre of Cuban creative music attributed to the Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrín, who began his career playing for the Orquesta América brass band.
In its evolution the charangas were incorporated, groups that included timpani, bass, flute, piano and violin ensemble. Thus, many sang successful chachachás such as the Aragón Orchestra, Los Cariñositos and the América Orchestra. Today, many of those who come to music prefer the rhythm because it is very rhythmic.
Musical rhythm is of African origin so deeply rooted in Cuba that it is considered the most classic dance among all Latin American dances. It is a generic complex that is subdivided into three types: yambú, columbia and guaguancó. The rumba is an Afro-Cuban folk dance that also takes bars from the son montuno.
It emerged in the barracks and sugar plantations of the eighteenth century as part of the entertainment of black slaves, maroons and liberated blacks, an escape route from the harsh reality they faced.
First it was in rural areas where the African tradition was best preserved, then entered the black neighborhoods of Havana. There it was associated with the lots and the marginal sites.
The rumba is danced in pairs, openly, with strong and sensual movements of the hip and pelvis, sometimes abrupt. At first the lyrics of the rumba evoked the African saints or the sad life of the discriminated blacks, now it is a genre very liked in Cuba and recognized worldwide.
Its origins go back to the time of slavery and it is a genre that draws crowds. Its origin dates back to the Three Kings Day party when, along with the white party, black people danced and had fun with their own music.
The conga drags a large number of people dancing and singing. Thus in the most important popular festivals in the country called carnivals, the conga is the queen of the party.
Known throughout the world are the carnivals of Santiago de Cuba and the Parrandas de Remedios in Villa Clara and Bejucal in Mayabeque. The popular festivals associated with the conga are the nation’s musical and cultural heritage.
Basic musical genre for all the Cuban popular music. It arose at the end of the XIX century in the eastern region of Cuba and from the characteristic broadcasting of the XX century, it became popular.
At first, as it happens with almost all popular genres, it was considered music of the poor, but despite that it gained recognition throughout the country, as well as in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Colombia.
It is a generic complex in itself, it has variants: son montuno, changüí, sucu-sucu, mambo, chachachá, among others. And over time it has incorporated and enriched itself with others such as jazz, bolero, danzón, and constitutes the rhythmic base of Cuban popular dance music.
This genre has been one of the most recognized because at the same time the most brilliant composers, musicians, orchestras and arrangers of Cuban culture have appeared with it.
In its evolution, salsa arises, a dance genre that today travels the world with great popularity and in some way also attributed to the song Échale salsita by Cuban Ignacio Piñeiro. Those who come to the island always want to dance salsa, and nourish themselves with the music and nightlife of the country.
The woman in Cuban music.
A section that we can not fail to mention is the presence of women in the most beautiful of the arts. In Cuba, recognition of women in any facet of life is very important. They are protagonists from home, the economy and in all the arts, in music they have made a great contribution.
The Ginés sisters, Teodora and Micaela, are the first to be mentioned. They say that they were free black women residing in Santiago de Cuba at the end of the 16th century, in 1580, from the island of Hispaniola.
They played and sang together with an Andalusian, and became famous for the so-called Son de la Ma Teodora, which later proved that their melody came from an Extremaduran romanza.
Over time and the appearance of other genres, many women have also placed themselves in privileged positions, including La Lupe, Celia Cruz, Celina González, Olga Guillot and Elena Burke, also known as the queens of Cuban music.
The queen of Latin song, Lupe Victoria Yolí Raymond, transcended as La Lupe. Originally from Santiago, she was the first Latin singer to perform at Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden in New York.
It was a show in itself, her voice, her gestures, her body, she used everything to express her passion for music. She popularized the themes Puro Teatro and Qué te pedí, two of the many that have never sounded the same in other voices.
Also known as La Yiyiyi, she obtained the Golden Record of Popularity awarded by the RCA Victor firm and her name is in the International Latin Music Hall of Fame, in New York. In 2002, New York City honored her name with La Lupe Way, the former East 140th Street in the Bronx, in her memory.
The guarachera of Cuba, Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, better known as Celia Cruz, was born in Santo Suárez in Havana. She internationalized her own melodies, such as La negra tiene tumbao, Químbara or Life is a carnival, songs covered by other artists.
The undisputed Queen of Cuban Salsa was also famous for her emblematic wigs or how she imposed the fashion for inverted heels and dresses with many colors.
Celina González, born in Matanzas, is another of the unforgettable voices of Cuban music. Identified with the countryside, she knew how to reflect it in Cuban music, they called her Reina del Punto Cubano.
Celina was characterized by a clear, powerful and rhythmic voice, in 2001 she was nominated for a Latin Grammy for the album 50 years as a queen
Olga Guillot from Santiago was known as the temperamental Queen of the Cuban Bolero with her voice full of feelings. Her style led her to share the stage with greats like Frank Sinatra and Edith Piaf.
She produced 50 albums and filmed 16 movies. She was awarded the Order Don Francisco de Miranda, an award given at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, designated the highest representative of the Cuban bolero worldwide and received an award from the New York Association of Showwriters and prestigious associations of critics of all the world.
Several streets in the world bear her name. In 2007, she was recognized as one of the legends of Latin music by the Latin Recording Academy.
Queen of Feeling in Cuba or La Señora Sentimiento, Elena Burque is one of the best female voices of all time. She was the founder of the Las D Aida quartet, together with Moraima Secada, Haideé Portuondo and Omara Portuondo.
About Cuban music, not everything is said here, that’s why we make the invitation: when visiting Cuba you can enjoy in public spaces in all cities, shows with the live representation of the Cuban essence on drums, guitars and voices.