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New fan of cuban music

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Jason Adams

Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 2

PostPosted: May 18, 04, 8:37    Post subject: New fan of cuban music Reply with quote

Hi, I've been getting more into cuban music lately, the tradition is so rich and the music beautiful, but also very complicated. I'm especially interested in danzon, but I'm having some trouble placing it properly in the tradition in terms of the actual musical structures, although of course I can feel the difference, I just can't explain it.

Can somebody clarify the real differences between the main genres, like danzon, son, and rhumba (pardon me if I don't use the terms quite right, I'm new to this). In other words, what makes these completely unique styles, or are they in fact unique? Is there crossover between them, or do they stand alone?

For example, how are the rhythms different, and the song structures? Thanks for any further information you can give that might help me get a better understanding of the music.

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Joined: 04 Apr 2004
Posts: 14

PostPosted: May 18, 04, 20:12    Post subject: new fan of cuban music. Reply with quote

Jason. Tregar here - musical director and arranger for the orquesta. These are all very good questions that will involve some lengthy answers. I will attempt an answer tomorrow morning and also point you to some recordings so you can listen to some examples of the different forms of cuban music. I might even see if our webmaster can upload some recordings on the site so you can check out the different genres. The music is very beautiful, but complicated, as you say.
hasta maniana. -tregar
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Joined: 05 Oct 2003
Posts: 6
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: May 18, 04, 22:59    Post subject: Reply with quote


This is Bob, pianist and occasional arranger for the Orquesta. There are entire books written on the subject, with varying approaches for varying audiences. Check your local library and bookstores. If you're a musician, you can get some idea of the genres, as well as a good discography on salsa and related genres, from 'Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble' by Rebeca Mauleon, published by Sher Music Co. She includes sample one-page arrangements of different styles so you can see typical patterns played by different instruments. Do some web searches for AfroCuban music, and browse the various sites devoted to the subject. A great source for recordings is www.descarga.com, and they also have CD reviews, interviews with musicians, and more.
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Joined: 04 Apr 2004
Posts: 14

PostPosted: May 19, 04, 8:59    Post subject: new fan of cuban music Reply with quote

hello, Tregar here again.

Bob had some good suggestions.

Well, to give the incredibly abridged short answer which hardly scratches the surface...

In Cuba, like anywhere else, we can loosely categorize some of the music into folkloric and some into popular. This is really just a way to put labels on the music so we can remember what the differences are - there are a lot of crossovers between what we call folkloric and popular. A lot of what we now call folkloric was originally popular, and vice versa could happen as well. Cuban folk or folkloric music includes Afro-Cuban music that is used at religious ceremonies ie Yoruba (Santeria), Palo, Abakua, etc. This music gave rise to secular genres that now are referd to as folkloric like different forms of rumba (not rhumba) – guaguancó (medium/fast paced), yambú (slower), Columbia (fast). Each of these styles has particular rhythms and are extremely complicated. To hear rumba, I recommend starting out listening to Los Muñequitos de Matanzas. There is a lot of other music that falls into the folkloric category, but there is a start.

In the popular music, I like to think of it as though there are two main veins that came out of the 19th century. One was influenced by Danzón music and ended up in the mid 20th century using violins and flute, the other was influenced by Son and ended up using an ensemble using horns. In the late 20th century, groups often mixed these instrumentations. To listen to danzones I recommend our CD, or Orquesta Aragón, Arcaño, Neno Gonzalez, or Antonio Ma Romeu. These groups also play great examples of cha cha cha. To hear old style son check out Ignacio Piñero y el Septeto Nacional, or la Bolonia (Arhoolie records is a great resource for old sones). For more modern sones like son montunos, listen to Arsenio Rodriguez or Chapotín (Tumbao records is good for a lot of traditional Cuban popular music). For more info, refer to our history page on our site danzon.com

For modern Cuban popular music, check out los Van Van, Pupi y los Que Son Son, Maravillas de Florida, Manolito y Su Trabuco for a start.

There is a few ideas so you can get started.
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Jason Adams

Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 2

PostPosted: May 19, 04, 10:27    Post subject: re: cuban music information Reply with quote

Wow, thanks a lot for the information Bob and Tregar.

I looked in my local library for some books on cuban music but I couldn't find much, I guess the internet might be a better resource for me. I'll see what I can find about cuban music online, I'll definitely look at the links you suggested..

If it's possible, could you explain the very basic patterns or structures (I'm not sure what the exact word is) of rumba, son, and danzon?

In other words, do they have the same basic rhythms, or are they really different? I've been learning a little about clave but it's hard to really understand I have to admit.

Thanks a lot for the information and for taking the time to answer, I really appreciate it, Jason.
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