Album Recommendation: Rumba
V.A. / La Rumba Soy Yo

1. Soy la rumba - Aramis Galindo y orq.BIS music
2. La Habana - Grupo Yoruba Andabo
3. Santa Cecilia - Issac Delgado
4. Mi magdalena - Sixto Llorente "El Indio"
5. Lengua de obbara - Los Munuquitos de Matanzas
6. Solo - Tata Guines
7. Un Violin pa' Chano - Lazaro Dagoberto Gonzalez
8. Maileo - Grupo clave y guaguanco
9. En el balcon aquel - Los papines
10. Sobre una tumba una rumba - Haila Monpie
11. Rio mestizo - Alejandro Valdes
12. Cuba Espana - Los Munuquitos de Matanzas
13. Xiomara mayoral - Mayito Rivera
14. EL jardin - Los Munuquitos de Matanzas
15. Final - Grupo clave y guaguanco

History of Cuban Music - Page 1 (written by Yuhiko)

The second issue of this section is about the history of Cuan music which is the important musical elements of current House music.

1. Origin

History of Cuban music is, in other words, that of musical development through the FUSION- the historical background of Cuba itself has influenced to this Cuban music nature.

Cuba, which became Spanish colony in the end of 15th century, served as one of the limited intercontinental trade place during Spanish rule: Till the end of 19th century, Cuba was one of the most opened place in America, more than Lima or Mexico City where were capital of Spanish colony- as a junction of European/African trade, as a intersection of Pacific trade.

From the16th century, Spain imported black people from Africa, as work force to maintain their plantation system. These African people, who were brought to this Carribean island as slave, added syncopation to European music, and changed triple times, which was charasteristic in European music at that time, into duple ones. Furthermore, they introduced rhythm pattern of 2-bar tunes (claves), which derives from Africa. These elements lies in Cuban music even nowadays.
African contribution to Cuban music also relates to instruments. They used whatever to play music, not only playing European-origin instruments (like mandrin or guitar). For example, the instrument called cajon, originates from the box black slaves used instead of percussion.
Through musical play by black people, and their attempt to reproduce what they left behind to homeland, various instruments such as conga, bongo, timbales, tres (guitar-like instrument with three double strings) were invented.

There were largely three ethnic group among so-called original Afro-Cuban people.
First is the Yoruba (from western Nigeria). Merging of Yoruba and Christian elements, they formed a synchretic cult called santeria. Even today we can see the Nigerian originated ritual instruments in Latin American music scene: Bata, consist of a set of three hourglass-shaped drums held on the musician's lap, or agogos, clapperless bells are some example.

Second ethnic group is the Abakwa (from southern Nigeria). They also kept their tribal, secret societies, and also kept their mysterious rituals. They formed unique rhythm pattern including call and response chant, and this pattern is inherited to Cuban music/ latin jazz.

Third group, people from Congo, consisted from various ethnic group (one of them was the Bantu), became assimilated faster into white society than other African groups. Theycontributed to Cuban music more, rather than keeping their ritual traditions. Many Cuban musical terms derives from the Bantu: conga, congo, mambo, etc etc.

Under Spanish colonial rule, the black slaves were gathered in the organizations called cabildos (literally, means "town council"). Incabildos, officially divided into ethnic groups, mixture of ethnics had already started. Since Spaniards tolerated musical play by black slaves (they thought it necessary as amusement), cabildos worked in two ways from musical point of view: an organization to make ethnic culture mixed, as well as .an organization to keep each ethnics' ones.

2. Musics in the 18th-19th century

Various Cuban music, as a result of ethnic mixture till the previous century, started to rise from the 18th century. We can say so-called "Cuban music " started to form this period.

First of all, a dance music named Guaracha emerged in Havana. This music became popular during 1850s, thanks to its uptempo rhythm, racy lyrics, and lascivicious choreography. As musica, generally consists of a four- to eight- bar introduction, and singer improvised refrain part. Guaracha was also the first Cuban music which guitar accompanied with song.
In 1930s, many Cuban groups had come to use Guaracha style.
Today no specific Guaracha exists- the word refers to the "medium tempo and tropical music".

In the end of the 19th century, Danzon, which may be an easy example of black & white musical mixture in Cuban history, appeared.
This genre originated from British countrydance, which introduced to French court and became popular as contredanse. As origin shows, this music is originally European one. In late 18th century, French planters brought this dance to Cuba, and was tranformed into the creolized contradanza.
The contradanza added gradually black elements, and developped as danzon- instruments like guiro or timbales. People also started to improvise dance at will (not stricted in original European manner).
Danzon, which people regarded as vulgar music in the beginning, accepted by high society later. In this process, danzon was further simplified: from four- sixteen section to two- 32 bar sections: also the time changed from 2/4 to 6/8. As musical style, danzon existed till around 1930s.

Rumba brava (means "authentic rhumba". This name is used to differenciate from rhumba, which became popular in the U.S. and in Europe during 1930s, with the world wide hit of "El Manisero") also formed during this period.
Originally the music played by black slaves in plantations, rumba brava started to take shape in the 18th century, and started to have more complicated rhythm. Also, from the 18th century, people started playing rumba brava not only rural areas, but also cities- in Havana or in Matanza. At the turn of the 20th century, mutual-aid societies started playing rumba brava and started to make up rumberos, rhumba groups- also appeared star-group such as Los Congos de Angunda, La Violencia, and Bando Azul etc.
Rumba brava was also a music from Cuba, which spread worldwide: in Spain, gypsy guitarists still play rumba, with the name rumbas flamencas.

Rumba dance derives from Congo dance. Congo tribes used to dance with the out-thrusting choreography of pelvis ,to pray for fertility. Spanish government banned this choreography, as sexual gesture: to elude the censorship from the Spaniards, they introduced many characteristic moves to Rumba choreography. Booty-shaking, handkerchief as metaphor, and characteristic move of hands or feet. In some region, they added Brazilian/ Trinidadian flavor, to emphasize local character.
The heyday of Rumba was 1920s-1930s, and by those days people could listen to this call-and-response style music (lead-singer and chorus sing in turn) even at theaters.

Rumba contains several sub-genre. Followings are brief description of representative genre.

*Guanguanco, which formed between the end of the 19th century- the beginning of the 20th century, directly sings/dances sexual posession. (Vacunao, the pelvis contact choreography, is the most famous example). Always danced as male-female pair, and dance in a circle.
Three kinds of drum, Quinto, segundo, and tumbadora, forms fundamental rhythm, and sometimes percussion player hit the edge of drum with sticks, to cover the rhythm. Stringed instruments play melody, and chorus sing with 6/8 times.
A guanguanco song starts with introduction part, then refrain part comes, followed by dance.

*Yambu imitates old people's dancing- in fact, this dance has the slowest tempo among rumba variation. Yambu doesn't have vacunao, pelvis thrust. Elegant character is more noticiable instead.
A Yambu song starts with lamento or llorao, which sounds like an aminal voice/lamentation. Short melody in a major code with improvisation by the lead-singer follows, then refrain part (chorus part in unison) comes- and dance.
Usually they play cajon as rhythm instrument, instead of drums.

*Columbia can be described as the most dynamic dance with the fastest tempo in Rumba. In columbia, a dance regarded as male-one, a dancer must move each parts of body separately (back, shoulders, and feet). Columbia is also more dance-oriented genre: its lyrics are consisted of short-phrases, call-and-response chorus with traditional voice.

Bolero, which appeared in Oriente region in 1810s has been considered as the most typical romantic music of Latin America.
Having its roots from Spanish three counted dance, originally bolore was sung by trovadores (minstrels) accompanied with guitar. Adding black musical elements such as syncopation, and changing its beat to 2 times, bolero became Cuban music in the end of the 19th century.
Nowadays they tend to play bolero in middle tempo- faster than boleros in other countries.

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