Cuban Music

Videos/interviews with Cuba’s most prominent singers/composers.

Cuban music, including its instruments, performance and dance, comprises a large set of unique traditions influenced mostly by West African and European, especially Spanish, music. Due to the syncretic nature of most of its genres, Cuban music is often considered one of the richest and most influential regional music of the world. For instance, the son cubano merges an adapted Spanish guitar (tres), melody, harmony, and lyrical traditions with Afro-Cuban percussions and rhythms. In this section there are interview clips from the Cuban Music Legends Series, hosted by music historian Eloy Cepero.


The Himno de Bayamo, (originally known as La Bayamesa), was written, both lyrics and music, by Pedro Figueredo in 1868, at the beginning of the Ten Years’ War, as a call to combat for the people of Bayamo.  After Independence all but the first three verses were suppressed because they were so embarrassingly anti-Spanish.  In fact, only the first and second stanzas are well known and widely sung.  They are:

Al combate, corred, bayameses,
que la patria os contempla orgullosa.
No temáis una muerte gloriosa,
que morir por la Patria es vivir.

En cadenas vivir, es vivir
en afrenta y oprobio sumido.
Del Clarín escuchad el sonido:
¡A las armas valientes corred!


Music received early impetus from both Spanish settlers and African slaves. Despite the basic division into Euro­Cuban, Afro-Cuban, and popular (or mulatto), and concert music, the traditions are not clearly disparate.  Classification depends upon the degree of mixture rather than on purity of form and expression.  The Euro-Cuban and Afro-Cuban traditions did develop somewhat separately until the 20th century. The former was confined largely to white groups in the countryside and the upper class in the cities. Their music, played at formal balls and elaborate social gatherings, was based on Spanish forms and melodies. Instruments used were the small guitar and occasionally the violin; voice accompaniment was also used, but the forms were primarily for the dance. Afro-Cuban music, originally religious, developed during the 19th century into what became the popular form, overriding the Euro-Cuban forms that had previously flourished.

At the beginning of the 20th century several diverse elements appeared on the music scene. Some Cuban composers such as Ignacio Cervantes Kawanagh went through a cosmopolitan period in which they reflected the influence of foreign styles ranging from the impressionism of Debussy to the atonality of Stravinsky and Arnold Schönberg.  In the 1920s and 1930s many composers (Ernesto Lecuona, Gonzalo Roig, e.g.)  found inspiration in romantic and sensual Afro-Cuban elements.

However, Cuban classical music has not received, either in Cuba or abroad, the recognition accorded other kinds of genres. Formal compositions that antedate independence either drew upon the European tradition or have been wholly forgotten and did not serve as a source for later composers. Esteban Salas (1725-1803), a consummate choirmaster and devout priest, is considered the island’s first great Creole composer. Entirely in the Roman Catholic liturgical and late Spanish baroque traditions, Salas composed Masses, motets, chamber works, villancicos (carols), and other sacred and classical pieces. Under his musical stewardship from 1764 until his death, the Cathedral and city of Santiago de Cuba acquired a reputation for high musical culture. His successor, Father Juan París (1759-1845), carried on in Salas’ legacy.

In the 19th century, Cuba produced a great Romantic composer in Nicolás Ruiz Espadero (1832-1890).  Among his most distinguished pupils were Cecilia Aritzi (1860-1937), Cuba’s first professional female pianist-composer, and Ignacio Cervantes Kawanagh (1847-1905), renowned for his DanzasInstrumentalists José Manuel Jiménez (1855-1917), Claudio Brindis de Salas (1852-1911), and José White (1836-1912) gained international recognition as virtuosi pianists and violinists. White also authored the popular La bella cubana for violin and piano. Manuel Saumell (1817-1870) wrote contradanzas that contributed   to a romantic   sense of   nationhood in music. Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes (1874-1944), who studied under Ignacio Cervantes, composed popular habaneras in addition to being Cuba’s foremost musicologist until his death.  Gaspar Villate (1851-1891), Laureano Fuentes Matons (1825-1898), and José Mauri (1855-1937) created operas, zarzuelas, and symphonies acclaimed in Madrid and Paris as well as in Havana.  Guillermo Tomás (1868-1937) introduced the music of Wagner, Richard Strauss, and Max Reger to Cuban audiences for the first time. Joaquín Nin Castellanos (1879-1944) sought inspiration for his oeuvre in the Euro-Cuban music of the colonial past.

The two great 20th century composers who were given considerable recognition after the Revolution of 1959 were Amadeo Roldán (1900-1939) and Alejandro García Caturla (1906-1940), both participants in the rediscovery of Afro-Cuban traditions. In the 1930s there was a movement away from both cosmopolitanism and Afro-Cubanism, led by José Ardévol (1911-1981), but there was a return to Afro-Cuban sources for inspiration after World War II.  Gonzalo Roig (1890-1970) and Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963), both of whom were classically trained, interpreted popular and   traditional   genres. Among Roig’s compositions were the zarzuela (operetta) “Cecilia Valdés” [based on the 19th – century novel by Cirilo Villaverde] and the bolero (romantic song) Quiéreme muchoLecuona, Cuba’s most universally acclaimed pianist-composer of the 20th century, wrote zarzuelas such as María la 0, song favorites like Malagueña and Siboney, and numerous Hollywood themes (e.g., “With a Song in My Heart”).  Julian Orbón (1925-1991), Cuba’s most accomplished classical composer since the 1940s, is now highly regarded as one of Latin America’s 20th century masters, along with Heitor Villa-Lobos (Brazil) and Carlos Chávez (Mexico).  In contemporary art music, Aurelio de la Vega (b. 1925), a two-time recipient of the prestigious Friedheim Award, has earned distinction especially for his complex atonal- serial arrangements.

During the early 1960s popular music conserved the vitality derived from the popularity of the mambo and the cha­cha-chá of the 1950s with such figures as Dámaso Pérez Prado, Enrique Jorrín, and Benny Moré. Cuban popular music was enriched by the works of filin (“feeling”) music, a style of the early 1950s, characterized by a smooth harmonious personal style as seen in the music of José Antonio Méndez, César Portillo de la Luz, and Frank Domínguez. This was offset, however, by the end of independent radio stations and the implementation of a rigid cultural policy during the Fidel Castro era. Beginning in 1966, music suffered a censorship aimed at avoiding foreign cultural influence and any ideological deviation. The works of Cuban authors were to reflect their revolutionary social commitment, and the need to recover lost musical values was emphasized. Several short- lived rhythms emerged at this time, such as the pilón, the paca, and the mozambique, which never caught on outside Cuba.

At the end of 1968, popular music reawakened with the arrival of the Nueva Trova.  From that moment on, official steps were taken to improve the state of popular music and new music schools were established. Foreign music began to be heard more, as did important figures of Cuban traditional music.  During the 1970s there was more emphasis on culture, and jazz and experimental music groups appeared with a notable increase in composing.  National and international festivals have been held since that time, such as the Varadero Festival of Popular Music, the Benny Moré Festival, and the Adolfo Guzmán Contest.


Fashionable In aristocratic circles throughout Europe in the 18th century, the British introduced their formal yet lively “country-dance” at balls during the Earl of Albemarle’s occupation of Havana in 1762.  The French emigres also brought their own version of contredanse to the Oriente region after fleeing from the slave uprisings in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) in the 1790s.  Hence, the dual etymology attributed to the world refers to it rustic English origins as well as to the fact that it was danced in a group with men and women “counter,” or facing, one another in two rows.  Its form is characterized by two contrasting sections of eight measures each.  The second part tends to be folkloric but may also be romantic in nature.  In Cuban contradanza, two slow movements, known as paseo and cadena, are followed by two brisk, the sostenido and cedazo.  Gradually, local popular instruments, namely the güiro and timbales, were introduced and accompanied the established clarinet, fifes, horn, double bass, and violins in creating a distinctively Cuban music.

Anselmo Lopez published San Pascual Bailón, the earliest extant contradanza criolla, or Cuban contradanza, in 1803.  The genre’s popularity became widespread, from Havana’s elegant salons to provincial society, by the early 19th century.  Over time, both the dancing style and music underwent a metamorphosis, the former adapted for couples while the latter slowing to a tempo more comfortable given the island’s tropical climate.

In the 19th century, contradanza enjoyed not only the public’s favor, but the predilection of Cuba’s most talented composers as well. Its mot renowned exponent was Manuel Saumell (1817-1870) who wrote La Tedezco, La niña bonita, and Los ojos de Pepa, to name but three of his more famous compositions.

Due to its adoption by elite Creole society, its cultivation by native-born composers, and its association with a romantic sense of nationhood, Alejo Carpentier, in his classic La música en Cuba (1946), considered contradanza the island’s first distinctly national music genre.  Moreover, later Cuban music and dance trace their roots back to the contradanza.  Thus, the first sung contradanzas, appearing in the 1840s, evolved into the habanera.  With the danzon, derived from the danza cubana (or danza criolla), itself an intermediate 19th century form of contradanza, the influence extended well into the 20th century.


Miguel Faílde (1853-1921) composed and performed the first typical danzón, Las Alturas de Simpson, with his “Orquesta de los Hermanos Faílde” in Matanzas on January 1, 1879, from where its popularity spread to Havana and the rest of the country.  Faílde also wrote three other works in the genre: El Delirio, La Ingratitud, and Las Quejas.  It may be said that the danzón is to Cuban music what the tango is to Argentina: elegant, sensual, and synonymous with national identity.  Musically, the danzón stands out for its alternation of the contradanza’s paseo acting as refrain, an allegretto clarinet trio, an andante violin trio, and an allegro brass trio.  The piano joined wind instruments by the early 1900s, eventually playing a leading role.

The danzon was, in reality, an offspring of the danza criolla and, ultimately, the contradanza.  Choreographically, the danzon retained the traditional cedazo during which the couples separate, face one another, and rest in place.  By the second half of the 19th century, the contradanza evolved into the danza which, when danced by couples rather than collectively, was already known in vernacular speech as danzón.  When Faílde and his wind orchestra performed the first danzón proper, however, they introduced syncopation and improvisation into the traditional form.  The result was a slower-paced, cadenced music and choreography that the island’s public quickly adopted.  In the 1880s and 1890s, the danzón benefited from enthusiastic support by liberal, pro-independence Cubans, a fact that contributed to its identification with republican nationhood and the genre’s subsequent ascendancy until about 1920.  With the rise of the son after 1910, and its propagation thanks to radio broadcasting in the 1920s, the traditional danzón entered a period of decline.  In 1910, the musician-composer Jose Urfé (1879-1957) and the “Orquesta de Enrique Peña” revitalized the danzón inserting rhythmic elements taken from the Oriente region’s typical son), with the premier of his El bombín de Barreto.  Other important exponents and innovators in the history of the danzón were Raimundo Valenzuela (1848-1905), Antonio María Romeu (1876-1955), and Aniceto Díaz (1887-1964), credited with reviving the danzon with the creation of the danzonete in 1929.

The legacy of the music carried over into the 1940s and 1950s with the arrival of the cha-cha-chá, the mambo, and the ritmo nuevo, each of which inherited, interpreted, and modernized elements of the danzón for an international audience.


The guaracha, a popular music and dance genre, originated on the stage of Cuba’s 19th– century comic theater.  By the mid-1800s, the teatro bufo (“buffon” or “jester”), akin to the American minstrel, entertained crowds with its vernacular humor and satire.  The guaracha provided the musical accompaniment for the comic action on stage.  Hence the humorous, picaresque, and satirical lyrics that have typified the guaracha from the beginning.  Musically, the guaracha often combines, or incorporates, the bolero, rumba, clave, and other distinctly Cuban rhythms.  It usually follows a 6/8 measure or a 3/4 with 2/4 sequence.  However, the guaracha is not so much defined by its eclectic musical composition as by its textual content.  An authentic guaracha expresses a populist, satirical, and comical perspective on local customs, personages, and topics.  In the 20th century, the guaracha developed independently from its theatrical role to become a musical genre in its own rights.

During the 19th century, Enrique Guerrero (d. 1887) composed famous guarachas for the bufo state.  His La pluma de tu sombrero, La prieta santa, and Mi bandera cubana are considered classics in the genre. Antonio Fernández, better- known as Ñico Saquito, and Los Guaracheros de Oriente popularized guaracha music, especially the guaracha-son, in the 1940s, and 1950s with such tunes as Compay gallo Maria Cristina, Jaleo, No dejes caminar por vereda, La negra Leonor, etc.  Like many other Cuban music genres, guaracha has also contributed to the formation of salsa.  Celia Cruz (b.1924), recognized as “Reina de as salsa” (Queen of Salsa), was first known as the “Guarachera de Cuba’ (Roughly, Cuba’s Guaracha Singer) par excellence.  Celia Cruz revived the guaracha tradition by incorporating and interpreting the genre within contemporary salsa.


One of the first nationally recognized fusions of Hispanic and African music (as opposed to the more purely African rumba), son became generally known by about 1910 and was popularized in the 1920s, chiefly by Ignacio Piñeiro and his orchestra.  Mambo and salsa are among its descendants.  A vocal music and dance genre native to Oriente, particularly rural areas around Guantanamo, Baracoa, Santiago de Cuba, and Manzanillo, the son arrived in Havana about 1909 and soon rivaled the danzón in popularity.  However, it was the “Sexteto Habanero,” founded in 1918, which first interpreted the provincial son for a cosmopolitan audience in the Cuban capital.

The son combines rhythmic and percussion patterns of African (primarily Bantu) origin with string instruments of Spanish origin (e.g., guitar, tres), creating a uniquely Cuban sound within a universally Latin lyrical tradition.  Music characterized by its strong syncopation, the clave beat defines the son rhythmically.  The beat takes its name from the claves, Afro-Cuban instruments made of hardwood cylinders that produce a resonant, high-pitched sound.  Lyrically, the decima and the punto guajiro, Spanish poetic forms sung in Cuban countryside, are salient influences accounting for the improvisational nature of the son.  In the son, the sung verses alternate with a refrain in a question-answer arrangement between the singer and the chorus.  Themes addressed in the son’s popular poetry range from the amorous to patriotic and socio-political topics in Cuban history.

The genre flourished in its purest form in the 1920s and 1930s.  In addition to Ignacio Piñerio (1888-1969) and his “Sexteto (later Septeto) Nacional,” with classic compositions such as Échale salsita (1933), leading interpreters of the son genre included Miguel Matamoros (1894-1971) and his “Trío Matamoros” with their perennial Son de la loma (1928) and Moisés Simons (1889-1945) who composed El Manisero (1930).

Singer-composer Benny Moré (1919-1963) and his band energized the son with renditions in the 1940s and 1950s, both in Cuba and internationally, particularly in Mexico.  Many of the so-called “rumbas” popular during the Latin dance craze that swept the United States in the 1930s, resembled the son.  Miguelito Valdés (1916-1978), a vocalist-percussionist who rose to fame with the “Casino de la Playa” orchestra, popularized the son in the U.S. with the big Latin band sounds of Xavier Cugat (1900-1990).  Valdés was the original Mr. Babalú.  However, a second Mr. Babalú eclipsed the first in American pop culture: Desi Arnaz, of I Love Lucy fame, who also began his entertainment career performing in New York with Cugat’s band.  Likewise, the mambo and cha-cha-chá of the 1940s and 1950s were up-tempo forms of the son.  However, it was Arsenio Rodríguez (1911-1970) who modernized the son by adding one or more trumpets in his conjunto (ensemble or group) and breaking the septet mold.  After arriving in New York City in 1949, Rodríguez established a veritable following among local Latin musicians (particularly Puerto Ricans).  Indeed, salsa, defined by one music scholar as the “son’s rebellious daughter,” owes much to the innovations introduced by Arsenio Rodríguez.


A vocal music genre of Spanish origin, but distinct in its Cuban form by the second half of the 19th century.  An important lyrical paradigm was the canción cubana, or Creole song. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Fornaris, and Francisco Castillo Moreno jointly composed La Bayamesa in 1848, traditionally acknowledged as the first Cuban romantic verses set to music. The Cuban bolero also reveals influences from French romances, Neapolitan song, and operatic arias.  The earliest attributable Cuban bolero per se, Tristezas, appeared in 1885 in Santiago de Cuba.  Its composer was José “Pepe” Sánchez (1856-1918), a trovador (troubadour) and self-taught guitarist and singer. The bolero style had evolved in Oriente’s cities and towns where trovadores roamed the streets playing the guitar (in a syncopated manner called rayado) and singing sentimental and romantic compositions. The bolero reached Havana by the early 1900s. Among the genre’s greatest exponents for a national audience was the trovador, Sindo Garay (1867-1968), also from Santiago de Cuba, who inherited the bolero tradition from Pepe Sánchez.

However, the bolero reached an international audience with Aquellos ojos verdes. Nilo Menéndez (1902-1987) composed the music to lyrics written and sung by tenor Adolfo Utrera.  First recorded in 1930 with musical accompaniment by Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963) at the piano, it achieved immediate success and remains a classic in the genre. Distinguished among contemporary bolero composers, René Touzet’s (b.1916) songs have been interpreted by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Tony Martin.

From the 1920s onward, the bolero fused with the son to create hybrid styles such as the bolero-son, the bolero-mambo, etc. Another genre, that termed filin (“feeling”), evolved from the bolero in the late 1940s. Spreading first to Mexico and Puerto Rico, the genre flourished in virtually every Latin American nation. Thus, the contemporary pan-Latin balada (pop ballad) and salsa romantica trace their musical heritage back to the bolero.


A music and dance genre born in Havana’s Silver Star Club in the early 1950s, first classified as a mambo-rumba by its creator, the violinist and composer Enrique Jorrín (1926-1987). While Jorrín’s musical genius undoubtedly produced the cha-cha-chá, it owed much to the mambo and, with it, to the rhythmic innovations of “Arcaño y sus Maravillas” during the late 1930s.  Jorrín, accompanied by the “Orquesta América,” played the first cha-cha-chá, La engañadora, in 1951. He followed his initial success with other favorites such as El alardoso, El túnel, Nada para ti, and Me muero.

 Jorrín crafted his new style with dancers in mind. He originally composed works for the danzón-mambo genre, gradually simplifying the form with melodies that have no syncopation. Thus, dancers simply follow the melody and may improvise their own steps. The typical pattern, the escobillo, takes a 1-2, 1-2-3 alternating sequence that caught on as quickly as the music itself. Another typical feature of Jorrín’s new style was the vocal participation of the orchestra.  He entrusted the singing of the lyrics, in unison, to the band, a feature that the public enjoyed.

During the 1950s, cha-cha-chá competed with mambo both in Cuba and abroad. Following Jorrín’s success, other talents rode cha-cha-chá wave such as Antonio Sánchez with Yo sabía, Félix Reina with Angoa, Rosendo Ruiz and his Rico vacilón, Rosendo Rosell with Calculadora, and Eduardo “Richard” Egües with the classic El bodeguero. The “Orquesta Aragón,” more so than any other band, specialized in the new genre.


A type of rumba. Originating in the aftermath of the abolition of slavery on the island in 1886, guaguancó represents the fusion of several Afro-Cuban profane rituals, known as rumbas. The other two important varieties are yambú and columbia. Guaguancó’s dancers, moving to the beat of percussion instruments and surrounded by a chorus with a lead singer, perform a figurative erotic choreography. The male pursues the female with strong pelvic movements of a mimetic nature. She, in turn, evades and repels him, until ultimately surrendering.  The final symbolic act of possession is known as the vacunao.

 Many, if not most, guaguancós were anonymous compositions. The oldest, dating from late Spanish colonial era, are known as rumbasde tiempo España.” Though African in rhythm, the guaguancó reveals certain Spanish influences, especially by way of flamenco and the rural décimas, in the text of its songs. According to Mongo Santamaría (b. 1927), one of the genre’s leading interpreters, guaguancó came about when Afro­- Cubans tried to sing flamenco.

Founded in the 1950s, the ensemble “Muñequitos de Matanzas” has performed traditional rumba, especially guaguancó, in the urban Matanzas style. Since the late 1990s, authentic Cuban rumba has experienced an international revival, largely due to groups like the “Muñequitos de Matanzas,” Los Papines, AfroCuba, and others.


A popular Cuban dance and music of the 1940s-1950s.  Its fast­ paced music, a form of son, became popular in the United States and in the rest of Latin America in the post-World War II era. A native of Matanzas, the pianist and bandleader Dámaso Pérez Prado (1916-1989), known as the “King of Mambo,” was the genre’s greatest innovator and exponent, particularly as interpreted in his 1951 classic, Rico mambo.

 However, others had paved the way for Pérez Prado’s innovations, beginning with the orchestra of Arcaño y sus Maravillas” which introduced the ritmo nuevo in the 1930s. One of its composers, Orestes López (1908- 1991), wrote a danzón entitled Mambo in 1939. The López brothers, Orestes and his younger sibling Israel “Cachao” (b.  1918), inserted fast, syncopated motifs from the son. The effect was a more forceful rhythm to which younger dancers responded eagerly. Another eminent musician, Arsenio Rodríguez (1911-1970), set the new standard by emphasizing the percussion and brass sections of the sonOthers whose musical arrangements prefigured that of the mambo were René Hernández and Emilio “Bebo” Valdés, borrowing from American jazz and swing and freeing the sounds from the danzón’ s form.

Finally, Perez Prado liberated the final montuno from the ritmo nuevo thereby creating something altogether new.  In his words, “all is in the syncopation ···the saxophones accentuate it without respite while the trumpets charge the melody. The bass, in combination with tumbadoras and bongós, take care of the rest. There’s the making of mambo.” Recording his music for the RCA Victor label in Mexico City, Pérez Prado’s style took the musical world by storm.  Among his many 1950s hits were Mambo No. 5, Mambo No. 8, El ruletero, La chula linda, and, with vocalist Benny Moré (1919-1963), the King of Mambo, recorded Pachito e‘ché, Bonito y sabroso, and other popular songs in the new genre.

The next major development in Cuban music, the cha-cha-chá, shared common roots with its rival, the mambo.  In the   United States, Pérez Prado’s greatest success on the charts was Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White (1958).  Patricia (1958), another hit, became the theme song of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960).  Though fading, especially in Cuba and Latin America, by the early 1960s, mambo would be an important ingredient in the formation of the salsa genre and retain a loyal following for years to come.


Traditional folkloric genre of Spanish origin. The island’s country people, known as guajiros in Cuba, have cultivated their distinctive rural folk music since the late 18th century.  Accompanied  by  instruments  such as the tres (small Cuban guitar), the laúd (typical Cuban mandolin), güiro (ridged gourd), and claves (two hardwood cylinders), the vocalist sings improvised décimas (ten-line rhymed verses) following a constant, simple melodic pattern known interchangeably as the punto criollo, punto guajiro, or, now internationally, as the punto cubano.  There is also another distinct variety or sub-genre, the guajira, as well as regional and local variations of the punto criollo.  Traditionally, the best singers would engage in controversias, or versifying competitions, at countryside gatherings. Guajiro music contributed a great deal to the formation of another Cuban genre, the son, particularly its improvisational nature.

The puntos criollos and guajiras were sung during the traditional rural dance brought from Spain by early colonists, the zapateo. In the zapateo, the man gracefully dances in a circle around the woman while she turns in place with coquettish gestures of her own.  Both stamp their toes and heels in a lively manner.

 Guillermo Portabales (1914-1961), a bolero singer, popularized country genres with his refined, urbane renditions termed guajiras de salón. Singer-songwriter Celina González (b. 1928), known as the “Queen of Cuban Country Music,” has been a leading performer of guajiro genres, first with husband Reutilio Domínguez and later with their son Lázaro Reutilio Domínguez, since the 1950s. The guajira-son Guantanamera, first adapted and interpreted by Joseíto Fernández (1908-1979) in 1928, and later rearranged with lyrics from the poetry of José Martí by classical composer Julián Orbón, became the best-known work in the genre. American folksinger Pete Seeger adopted and played the song to U.S. audiences in 1963. Albita Rodríguez (b. 1962) introduced a modern, neo – guajiro style in the 1990s with the international success of her U.S. debut album, No se parece a nada.


A dance and accompanying music known since the late 19th century. Primarily African in origin, the version familiar outside Cuba actually is closer to the son (which blended Afro-Cuban music with traditional Spanish rhythms) and the bolero; true Cuban rumba is a faster, more dramatic dance, usually confined to exhibition dancing.

As stated, authentic rumba belongs to the island’s Afro-Cuban folklore. It is a communal act involving a lead singer, known as the gallo (rooster) and a chorus, called vasallo (vassal). Three tumbadoras, or congas, provide the percussion. The quinto, the smallest of the three drums, produces a high-pitched sound. The salidor sustains the rhythm while the medium-sized tres-golpes gives guaguancó its cadence.

Rumba is composed of three distinct rhythmic dances, each with its accompanying percussion, derived from the West African mimetic rituals of the slave population, particularly during the formative 19th century. Hence, one should more accurately refer to rumba yambú, rumba guaguancó, and rumba columbia.

 In yambú, the tempo is slow. The dance mimics the gestures of the elderly. It is known as the “old people’s” dance. Columbia is the most complex form of rumba. It flourished in the rural areas of Matanzas.  A male solo, rather than a couple, performs the choreography. His mimetic movements and acrobatic gestures imitate those of local members in the community such as a sugarcane-cutter, for example. Guaguancó, the most modern and urban rumba, synthesizes elements of both yambú and columbia. In guaguancó, the man performs pelvic movements of a sexual nature while the woman evades him until finally surrendering.  The figurative act of possession and surrender is termed vacunao.

Grandes Leyendas Músicales

La Coral Cubana
El Coro
Enrique Chia
Añorada Cuba
Susy Leman Pt. 1
Susy Leman Pt. 2
Hansel y Raul Pt. 1
Hansel y Raul Pt. 2