Introduction
ABriefOutlineofCubanMusic
The roots of Cuban music lie in the fusion of
Spanish and African cultural elements. Very little is
known of the music of the aboriginal Indo-Cubans,
whose aríetos (festivals) were conducted to the ac-
companiment of maracas, horns, flutes, and drums.
These indigenous groups were destroyed by genoci-
dal settlers, and their music was lost to history.
The Afro-Spanish heritage, on the other hand,
helped establish a rich and transcendent Cuban
musical expression whose beauty and authenticity
are now admired throughout the entire world. The
fusionofSpanishandAfricaninfluences,contraryto
popular belief, didn’t have towait for America’s dis-
coverytotakeplace;alreadyinSpain,therehadbeen
a centuries-long interaction between artistic forms
fromtheAfricancontinentandthosegeneratedwith
vitalityand extraordinarycolor in the Peninsula.The
first blacks came to Cuba on Columbus’s own ships,
and from 1510 onward, with the conquest of Cuba
led by Diego Velázquez, Africans were brought to
the island in successive migratory waves as slaves
for manual labor. Soon, music of Yoruba, Congo,
Carabalí, and Arará origin would resonate in the
island alongside the ballads and dances of Hispanic
origin, beginning what Fernando Ortiz refers to as
transculturación. The pulsating string and the vibrat-
ing drum, along with Andalusian or Canarian song,
melted together in the Antillean earth.
In a process that evolved alongside the remarkable
development and growth of the island’s sugar and
coffeeplantationsandpeakedattheendoftheeigh-
teenth century, a new indigenous music took shape,
enriched byelements of Italian song and of African-
French music, which was brought by refugees who
were fleeing the Haitian revolution. The quadrille,
which evolved into the Cuban danzón, son, clave, gua-
jira, habanera, rumba, and conga, are all genres that
encapsulatetheCubanspirit.Intheclassicalsphere,
the island saw the birth of Miguel Velázquez in the
sixteenth century and Esteban Salas in the eigh-
teenth century, both learned musicians in the Euro-
pean tradition.
The nineteenth century produced a great flower-
ing of Cuban music. Manuel Saumell, followed by
Ignacio Cervantes and others, be
be called musical nationalism. In 187
created the first danzón, ‘‘Las Altu
(Simpson Heights), which opened
innovative contributions. Genres li
the son weremeldedthroughthewo
Valenzuela and others and came t
in 1910 by the song ‘‘El bombín de
Urfé. The son made its way down
tains of the province of Oriente
Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba,
and later spread throughout the is
essence of traditional Cuban song
in the voices and guitars of the tro
tiago de Cuba, led by Pepe Sánch
and others.
At the beginning of the twenti
Municipal Band of Havana and sim
in other cities and provinces hel
nate a universal repertoire across th
helping to promote the developm
composers. Guillermo Tomás, Edu
Fuentes, and Jorge Ánckermann up
sound. The work of the pianist
soon became universally popular.
vana Symphonic Orchestra was fo
direction of Gonzalo Roig; two ye
vana Philharmonic Orchestra emer
Sanyuán. Soon thereafter Amade
with Alejandro García Caturla, beg
the basic elements of Afro-Hispa
lore into symphonic music. All sub
musical expression in this area ha
source the admirablework of these
figures, who pointed the way to the
the island’s musicwith the most ad
trends.
In the 1940s, in the arena of
cal music), the Grupo de Renovació
to establish technical and express
popularand dance music, great rhy
rhythms such as the mambo, crea
Orestes López and made popular
de Arcaño, and the cha-cha-chá, inv
Jorrín. These were undeniably ro
which had been popular since the
with the general populace but also
class. Jorrín’s innovative rhythm in
cal trends, both within Cuba and a
g
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