A History of Cuban Music

Since music and dance have always been a way of life in Cuba, all styles and their evolution would fill an entire book. For example, in the urban centers, contradanza, based on the French, salon style contredanse, evolved into the still popular danzon. Urban street music, influenced by African religious rituals, Christian religious carnivals and Caribbean carnival music similar to Brazil’s samba mixed together and gave birth to rumba and conga.

The music of the countryside, known collectively as musica campensina, gave rise to guajira, the lyrical, sweet musical form that extols the virtues of the land and Cuba’s beauty. The trova, another rural style of music from the eastern part of the island, dispersed news and gossip, often through satire. The Cuban bolero, evolving from the trova, is the epitome of the romantic love song. And finally, reflecting influences of all of these earlier musical styles is the heart of Cuban music, the son. As waves of immigrants migrated north to the U.S., Cuban music fused with other musical formats in the urban centers. In the mid-twentieth century, new, popular musical styles were born from this fusion giving us the mambo, cha cha and salsa. In order to download music just for having a little taste of these marvelous styles, you can search for artists like Celia Cruz, Arsenio Rodriguez, Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo or Compay Segundo.

Today, it’s difficult to say who invented some of the popular Cuban musical forms: for example, does salsa come from Cuba or from New York? But not this answer is important here. What really matters is the fact that Latin music continues to evolve and to reflect a global heartbeat.


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