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Music of CubaGuaguancó_header_cell_0_0_0
General topicsGuaguancó_header_cell_0_1_0
Specific formsGuaguancó_header_cell_0_3_0
Religious musicGuaguancó_header_cell_0_4_0 Guaguancó_cell_0_4_1
Traditional musicGuaguancó_header_cell_0_5_0 Guaguancó_cell_0_5_1
Media and performanceGuaguancó_header_cell_0_6_0
Music awardsGuaguancó_header_cell_0_7_0 Beny Moré AwardGuaguancó_cell_0_7_1
Nationalistic and patriotic songsGuaguancó_header_cell_0_8_0
National anthemGuaguancó_header_cell_0_9_0 La BayamesaGuaguancó_cell_0_9_1
Regional musicGuaguancó_header_cell_0_10_0

Guaguancó (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡwaɣwaŋˈko) is a subgenre of Cuban rumba, combining percussion, voices, and dance. Guaguancó_sentence_0

There are two main styles: Havana and Matanzas. Guaguancó_sentence_1

Percussion Guaguancó_section_0


  • battery of three conga drummers: the tumba (lowest), tres dos (middle, playing a counter-clave), and quinto (highest, and lead drum). These parts may also be played on cajones, wooden boxes.Guaguancó_item_0_0
  • claves usually played by a singerGuaguancó_item_0_1
  • guagua (aka Catà) (hollowed piece of bamboo)Guaguancó_item_0_2
  • maraca and/or a chekeré playing the main beatsGuaguancó_item_0_3

Other instruments may be used on occasion, for example spoons, palitos (wooden sticks striking the side of the drum), and tables and walls played like drums. Guaguancó_sentence_2

Clave Guaguancó_section_1

Rumba clave is the key pattern (guide pattern) used in guaguancó. Guaguancó_sentence_3

There is some debate as to how the 4/4 rumba clave should be notated for guaguancó. Guaguancó_sentence_4

In actual practice, the third and fourth stroke often fall in rhythmic positions that do not fit neatly into music notation. Guaguancó_sentence_5

Triple-pulse strokes can be substituted for duple-pulse strokes. Guaguancó_sentence_6

Also, the clave strokes are sometimes displaced in such a way that they don't fall within either a triple-pulse or duple-pulse "grid". Guaguancó_sentence_7

Therefore, many variations are possible. Guaguancó_sentence_8

Guagua Guaguancó_section_2

The guagua pattern (also known as palitos, or cáscara) contains all of the strokes of clave. Guaguancó_sentence_9

Quinto Guaguancó_section_3

The following nine-measure excerpt is from the guaguancó “La polémica" by Los Muñequitos de Matanzas (1988). Guaguancó_sentence_10

This passage moves between the main modes of playing (A,B,C). Guaguancó_sentence_11

The A section is the basic lock or ride, as it is known in North America. Guaguancó_sentence_12

It spans one clave (measure). Guaguancó_sentence_13

An alternate phrase (B) is also one measure in length. Guaguancó_sentence_14

Cross-beats, the basis of the third section (C), contradict the meter. Guaguancó_sentence_15

By alternating between the lock and the cross, the quinto creates larger rhythmic phrases that expand and contract over several clave cycles. Guaguancó_sentence_16

The great Los Muñequintos quintero Jesús Alfonso (1949–2009) described this phenomenon as a man getting "drunk at a party, going outside for a while, and then coming back inside." Guaguancó_sentence_17

Song Guaguancó_section_4

The term guaguancó originally referred to a narrative song style (coros de guaguancó) which emerged from the coros de claves of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Guaguancó_sentence_18

Rogelio Martínez Furé states: "[The] old folks contend that strictly speaking, the guaguancó is the narrative." Guaguancó_sentence_19

The guaguancó song often begins with the soloist singing meaningless syllables, which is called the diana. Guaguancó_sentence_20

According to Larry Crook, the diana is important because it "... also contains the first choral refrain. Guaguancó_sentence_21

The lead singer provides a phrase or motive for the choral sections, or they may present new, but related material. Guaguancó_sentence_22

Parallel harmonies are usually built above or below a melodic line, with thirds, sixths, and octaves most common." Guaguancó_sentence_23

Therefore, the singer who is presented with singing the diana initiates the beginning of the guaguancó. Guaguancó_sentence_24

He then may proceed to improvise lyrics stating the reason for holding the present rumba ('decimar'; span. Guaguancó_sentence_25

to make ten-line stanzas), During the verses of the song the quinto is capable of sublime creativity, while musically subordinate to the lead vocalist. Guaguancó_sentence_26

There are natural pauses in the cadence of the verses, typically one or two measures in length, where the quinto can play succinct phrases in the "holes" left by the singer. Guaguancó_sentence_27

Once the chorus (or montuno section) of the song begins, the phrases of the quinto interact with the dancers more than the lead singer. Guaguancó_sentence_28

Dance Guaguancó_section_5

Vernon Boggs states that the woman's "dancing expertise resides in her ability to entice the male while skillfully avoiding being touched by his vacunao." Guaguancó_sentence_29

The pattern of quinto strokes and the pattern of the man's dance steps are at times identical, and at other times, imaginatively matched. Guaguancó_sentence_30

The quinto player must be able to switch phrases immediately in response to the dancer’s ever-changing steps. Guaguancó_sentence_31

Selected discography Guaguancó_section_6


  • Songs and Dances (Conjunto Clave y Guaguancó) Xenophile CD 4023 (1990).Guaguancó_item_1_4
  • Déjala en la puntica (Conjunto Clave y Guaguancó) Egrem CD0211 (1996).Guaguancó_item_1_5
  • Rapsodia rumbera (El Goyo) Egrem CD 0121 (1995).Guaguancó_item_1_6
  • Aniversario (Tata Güines) Egrem CD 0156 (1996).Guaguancó_item_1_7
  • Guaguancó, v. 1 (Los Muñequitos [Grupo Guaguancó Matancero], Papin) Antilla CD 565 (1956, 1958).Guaguancó_item_1_8
  • Guaguancó, v. 2 (Los Muñequitos [Grupo Guaguancó Matancero], Papin) Antilla CD 595 (1958).Guaguancó_item_1_9
  • Rumba caliente (Los Muñequitos) Qbadisc CD 9005 (1977, 1988).Guaguancó_item_1_10
  • Vacunao (Los Muñequitos) Qbadisc CD 9017 (1995).Guaguancó_item_1_11
  • Ito iban echu (Los Muñequitos) Qbadisc CD 9022 (1996).Guaguancó_item_1_12
  • Rumberos de corazón (Los Muñequitos) Pimienta CD 566-2 (2003).Guaguancó_item_1_13
  • Tambor de fuego (Los Muñequitos) BIS CD 296 (2007).Guaguancó_item_1_14
  • D’palo pa rumba (Los Muñequitos) BIS CD 745 (2009).Guaguancó_item_1_15
  • Oye men listen . . . guaguancó (Los Papines) Bravo CD 105 [n.d.].Guaguancó_item_1_16
  • Homenaje a mis colegas (Los Papines) Vitral CD 4105 (1989).Guaguancó_item_1_17
  • Tambores cubanos (Los Papines) Bárbaro CD 239 (1995).Guaguancó_item_1_18
  • Papines en descarga (Los Papines) Orfeón CD 16181 (2001).Guaguancó_item_1_19
  • Siguen OK (Los Papines) Egrem CD (2004).Guaguancó_item_1_20
  • El tambor de Cuba (Chano Pozo) Tumbao CD box set 305 (1947).Guaguancó_item_1_21
  • Drums and Chants [Changó] (Mongo Santamaría) Vaya CD 56 (1954).Guaguancó_item_1_22
  • Afro Roots [Yambú, Mongo] (Mongo Santamaría) Prestige CD 24018-2 (1958, 1959 ).Guaguancó_item_1_23
  • Festival in Havana (Ignacio Piñeiro) Milestone CD 9337-2 (1955).Guaguancó_item_1_24
  • Patato y Totico (Patato Valdés) Verve CD 5037 (1968).Guaguancó_item_1_25
  • Authority (Patato Valdés) LPV CD 103 (1976).Guaguancó_item_1_26
  • Ready for Freddy (Patato Valdés) LPV CD 104 (1976).Guaguancó_item_1_27
  • Ritmo afro-cubano (Carlos Vidal Bolado) sides 7, 8 SMC 2520 78 rpm phonorecord (ca. 1949).Guaguancó_item_1_28
  • El callejón de los rumberos (Yoruba Andabo) PM CD DM203 (1993).Guaguancó_item_1_29
  • Guaguancó afro-cubano (Alberto Zayas) Panart 2055 (1955, 1956).Guaguancó_item_1_30

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page:ó.