Son cubano

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"Son (music)" redirects here. Son cubano_sentence_0

For the Mexican music genre, see Son mexicano. Son cubano_sentence_1

Son cubano_table_infobox_0

Son cubanoSon cubano_header_cell_0_0_0
Stylistic originsSon cubano_header_cell_0_1_0 Son cubano_cell_0_1_1
Cultural originsSon cubano_header_cell_0_2_0 Mid-19th century, rural eastern CubaSon cubano_cell_0_2_1
Derivative formsSon cubano_header_cell_0_3_0 Son cubano_cell_0_3_1
SubgenresSon cubano_header_cell_0_4_0
Fusion genresSon cubano_header_cell_0_5_0
Regional scenesSon cubano_header_cell_0_6_0
Other topicsSon cubano_header_cell_0_7_0

Son cubano is a genre of music and dance that originated in the highlands of eastern Cuba during the late 19th century. Son cubano_sentence_2

It is a syncretic genre that blends elements of Spanish and African origin. Son cubano_sentence_3

Among its fundamental Hispanic components are the vocal style, lyrical metre and the primacy of the tres, derived from the Spanish guitar. Son cubano_sentence_4

On the other hand, its characteristic clave rhythm, call and response structure and percussion section (bongo, maracas, etc.) are all rooted in traditions of Bantu origin. Son cubano_sentence_5

Around 1909 the son reached Havana, where the first recordings were made in 1917. Son cubano_sentence_6

This marked the start of its expansion throughout the island, becoming Cuba's most popular and influential genre. Son cubano_sentence_7

While early groups had between three and five members, during the 1920s the sexteto (sextet) became the genre's primary format. Son cubano_sentence_8

By the 1930s, many bands had incorporated a trumpet, becoming septetos, and in the 1940s a larger type of ensemble featuring congas and piano became the norm: the conjunto. Son cubano_sentence_9

Besides, the son became one of the main ingredients in the jam sessions known as descargas that flourished during the 1950s. Son cubano_sentence_10

The international presence of the son can be traced back to the 1930s when many bands toured Europe and North America, leading to ballroom adaptations of the genre such as the American rhumba. Son cubano_sentence_11

Similarly, radio broadcasts of son became popular in West Africa and the Congos, leading to the development of hybrid genres such as Congolese rumba. Son cubano_sentence_12

In the 1960s, New York's music scene prompted the rapid success of salsa, a combination of son and other Latin American styles primarily recorded by Puerto Ricans. Son cubano_sentence_13

While salsa achieved international popularity during the second half of the 20th century, in Cuba son evolved into other styles such as songo and timba, the latter of which is sometimes known as "Cuban salsa". Son cubano_sentence_14

Etymology and cognates Son cubano_section_0

In Spanish, the word son, from Latin sonus, denotes a pleasant sound, particularly a musical one. Son cubano_sentence_15

In eastern Cuba, the term began to be used to refer to the music of the highlands towards the late 19th century. Son cubano_sentence_16

To distinguish it from similar genres from other countries (such as son mexicano and son guatemalteco), the term son cubano is most commonly used. Son cubano_sentence_17

In Cuba, various qualifiers are used to distinguish the regional variants of the genre. Son cubano_sentence_18

These include son montuno, son oriental, son santiaguero and son habanero. Son cubano_sentence_19

Son singers are generally known as soneros, and the verb sonear describes not only their singing but also their vocal improvisation. Son cubano_sentence_20

The adjective soneado refers to songs and styles which incorporate the tempo and syncopation of the son, or even its montunos. Son cubano_sentence_21

Generally, there is an explicit difference between styles that incorporate elements of the son partially or totally, as evidenced by the distinction between bolero soneado and bolero-son. Son cubano_sentence_22

The term sonora refers to conjuntos with smoother trumpet sections such as Sonora Matancera and Sonora Ponceña. Son cubano_sentence_23

History Son cubano_section_1

Origins Son cubano_section_2

Although the history of Cuban music dates back to the 16th century, the son is a relatively recent musical invention whose precursors emerged in the mid-to-late 19th century. Son cubano_sentence_24

Historically, most musicologists have supported the hypothesis that the direct ancestors (or earliest forms) of the son appeared in Cuba's Oriente Province, particularly in mountainous regions such as Sierra Maestra. Son cubano_sentence_25

These early styles, which include changüí, nengón, kiribá and regina, were developed by peasants, many of which were of Bantu origin, in contrast to the Afro-Cubans of the western side of the island, which primarily descended from West African slaves (Yoruba, Ewe, etc.). Son cubano_sentence_26

These forms flourished in the context of rural parties such as guateques, where bungas were known to perform; these groups consisted of singers and guitarists playing variants such as the tiple, bandurria and bandola. Son cubano_sentence_27

Such early guitars are thought to have given rise to the tres some time around 1890 in Baracoa. Son cubano_sentence_28

The addition of a rhythm section composed of percussion instruments such as the bongó and the botija/marímbula gave rise to the first son groups proper. Son cubano_sentence_29

Nonetheless, it has become increasingly clear for musicologists that different versions of the son, i.e. styles that fall within the so-called son complex, appeared throughout the rural parts of the island by the end of the 1890s. Son cubano_sentence_30

Musicologist Marta Esquenazi Pérez divides the son complex into three regional variants: changüí in Guantánamo, sucu-sucu in Isla de la Juventud, and an array of styles which fall under the denomination of son montuno and were developed in places such as Bayamo, Manzanillo, Majagua and Pinar del Río. Son cubano_sentence_31

For this reason, some academics such as Radamés Giro and Jesús Gómez Cairo indicate that awareness of the son was widespread in the whole island, including Havana, before the actual expansion of the genre in the 1910s. Son cubano_sentence_32

Musicologist Peter Manuel proposed an alternative hypothesis according to which a great deal of the son's structure originated from the contradanza in Havana around the second half of the 19th century. Son cubano_sentence_33

The contradanza included many of the traits that are shown in the son, such as duets with melodies in parallel thirds, the presence of a suggested clave rhythm, implicit short vocal refrains borrowed from popular songs, distinctive syncopations, as well as the two-parts song form with an ostinato section. Son cubano_sentence_34

Apocryphal origins of the son Son cubano_section_3

Due to the very limited historiographical and ethnomusicological research devoted to the son (considered by Díaz Ayala the "least studied" Cuban genre), until the mid-20th century its origins were incorrectly traced back to the 16th century by many writers. Son cubano_sentence_35

This fallacy stemmed from the apocryphal origin story of a folk song known as "Son de Má Teodora". Son cubano_sentence_36

Such story was first mentioned by Cuban historian Joaquín José García in 1845, who "cited" a chronicle supposedly written by Hernando de la Parra in the 16th century. Son cubano_sentence_37

Parra's story was picked up, recycled and expanded by various authors throughout the second half of the 19th century, perpetuating the idea that such song was the first example of the son genre. Son cubano_sentence_38

Despite being given credence by some authors in the first half of the 20th century, including Fernando Ortiz, the Crónicas were repeatedly shown to be apocryphal in subsequent studies by Manuel Pérez Beato, José Juan Arrom, Max Henríquez Ureña and Alberto Muguercia. Son cubano_sentence_39

Early 20th century Son cubano_section_4

The emergence of son significantly increased the interaction of cultures derived from Africa and Spain. Son cubano_sentence_40

A large number of former black slaves, recently liberated after the abolition of slavery in 1886 went to live in the slums "solares" of low class neighborhoods in Havana, and numerous laborers also arrived from all over the country and some rural areas, looking to improve their living conditions. Son cubano_sentence_41

Many of them brought their Afro-Cuban rumba traditions, and others brought their rumbitas and montunos. Son cubano_sentence_42

It was in Havana where the encounter of the rumba rural and the rumba urbana that had been developing separately during the second half of the 19th century took place. Son cubano_sentence_43

The guaracheros and rumberos who used to play with the tiple and the guiro finally met other rumberos who sang and danced accompanied by the wooden box (cajón) and the Cuban clave, and the result was the fusion of both styles in a new genre called son. Son cubano_sentence_44

Around 1910 the son most likely adopted the clave rhythm from the Havana-based rumba, which had been developed in the late 19th century in Havana and Matanzas. Son cubano_sentence_45

After trovador Sindo Garay settled in Havana in 1906, many other trovadores followed him hoping to obtain a recording contract with one of the American Companies such as RCA Victor and Columbia Records. Son cubano_sentence_46

Those trovadores from different parts of the country met others who already lived in Havana such as María Teresa Vera and Rafael Zequeira. Son cubano_sentence_47

They brought their repertoires of canciones (Cuban songs) and boleros that also included rumbas, guarachas and rural rumbitas. Son cubano_sentence_48

Famous trovador Chico Ibáñez said that he composed his first "montuno" called "Pobre Evaristo" (Poor Evaristo) in 1906: "It was a tonada with three or four words that you put on, and after it, we placed a repeated phrase, the real montuno to be sung by everybody…". Son cubano_sentence_49

Ned Sublette states about another famous trovador and sonero: "As a child, Miguel Matamoros played danzones and sones on his harmonica to entertain the workers at a local cigar factory. Son cubano_sentence_50

He said: 'the sones that were composed at that time were nothing more than two or three words that were repeated all night long.'" Son cubano_sentence_51

A partial list of trovadores that recorded rumbas, guarachas and sones in Havana at the beginning of the 20th century included: Sindo Garay, Manuel Corona, María Teresa Vera, Alberto Villalón, José Castillo, Juan Cruz, Juan de la Cruz, Nano León, Román Martínez, as well as the duos of Floro and Zorrilla, Pablito and Luna, Zalazar and Oriche, and also Adolfo Colombo, who was not a trovador but a soloist at Teatro Alhambra. Son cubano_sentence_52

In the Havana neighborhoods, the son groups played in any possible format they could gather and most of them were semi-professional. Son cubano_sentence_53

One of those groups, The Apaches, was invited in 1916 to a party held by President Mario Menocal at the exclusive Vedado Tennis Club, and that same year some members of the group were reorganized in a quartet named Cuarteto Oriental. Son cubano_sentence_54

Those members were: Ricardo Martínez from Santiago de Cuba (conductor and tres), Gerardo Martínez (first voice and clave), Guillermo Castillo (botijuela), and Felipe Neri Cabrera (maracas). Son cubano_sentence_55

According to Jesús Blanco, quoted by Díaz Ayala, after a few months from its foundation the bongocero Joaquín Velazco joined the group. Son cubano_sentence_56

In 1917, the Cuarteto Oriental recorded the first son documented on the catalog of Columbia Records which was entered as "Pare motorista-son santiaguero". Son cubano_sentence_57

Unexpectedly, a fifth member of the quartet is mentioned, Carlos Godínez, who was a soldier in the standing army (Ejército Permanente). Son cubano_sentence_58

Subsequently, the RCA Victor contracted Godínez in 1918 to organize a group and record several songs. Son cubano_sentence_59

For that recording, the new group was called "Sexteto Habanero Godínez", which included: Carlos Godínez (conductor and tresero), María Teresa Vera (first voice and clave), Manuel Corona (second voice and guitar), Sinsonte (third voice and maracas), Alfredo Boloña (bongo), and another unknown performer who was not included in the list. Son cubano_sentence_60

1920s Son cubano_section_5

In 1920, the Cuarteto Oriental became a sextet and was renamed as Sexteto Habanero. Son cubano_sentence_61

This group established the "classical" configuration of the son sextet composed of guitar, tres, bongos, claves, maracas and double bass. Son cubano_sentence_62

The sextet members were: Guillermo Castillo (conductor, guitar and second voice), Gerardo Martínez (first voice), Felipe Neri Cabrera (maracas and backing vocals), Ricardo Martínez (tres), Joaquín Velazco (bongos), and Antonio Bacallao (botija). Son cubano_sentence_63

Abelardo Barroso, one of the most famous soneros, joined the group in 1925. Son cubano_sentence_64

Popularization began in earnest with the arrival of radio broadcasting in 1922, which came at the same time as Havana's reputation as an attraction for Americans evading Prohibition laws. Son cubano_sentence_65

The city became a haven for the Mafia, gambling and prostitution in Cuba, and also became a second home for trendy and influential bands from New York City. Son cubano_sentence_66

The son experienced a period of transformation from 1925 to 1928, when it evolved from a marginal genre of music to perhaps the most popular type of music in Cuba. Son cubano_sentence_67

A turning point that made this transformation possible occurred when then-president Machado publicly asked La Sonora Matancera to perform at his birthday party. Son cubano_sentence_68

In addition, the acceptance of son as a popular music genre in other countries contributed to more acceptance of son in mainstream Cuba. Son cubano_sentence_69

At that time many sextets were founded such as Boloña, Agabama, Botón de Rosa and the famous Sexteto Occidente conducted by María Teresa Vera. Son cubano_sentence_70

A few years later, in the late 1920s, son sextets became septets and son's popularity continued to grow with artists like Septeto Nacional and its leader Ignacio Piñeiro ("Echale salsita", "Donde estabas anoche"). Son cubano_sentence_71

In 1928, Rita Montaner's "El Manicero" became the first Cuban song to be a major hit in Paris and elsewhere in Europe. Son cubano_sentence_72

In 1930, Don Azpiazu's Havana Casino Orchestra took the song to the United States, where it also became a big hit. Son cubano_sentence_73

The instrumentation was expanded to include cornets or trumpets, forming the sextets and the septets of the 1920s. Son cubano_sentence_74

Later these conjuntos added piano, other percussion instruments, more trumpets, and even dance orchestra instruments in the style of jazz big bands. Son cubano_sentence_75

Trío Matamoros Son cubano_section_6

The presence of the Trío Matamoros in the history of Cuban son is so important that it deserves a separate section. Son cubano_sentence_76

Its development constitutes an example of the process that the trovadores usually followed until they became soneros. Son cubano_sentence_77

The Trío was founded by Miguel Matamoros (vocals and first guitar), who was born in Santiago de Cuba (Oriente) in 1894. Son cubano_sentence_78

There, he became involved with the traditional trova movement and in 1925 joined Siro Rodríguez (vocals and maracas) and Rafael Cueto (vocals and second guitar) to create the famous group. Son cubano_sentence_79

They synthesized the style of the sextets and septets, adapting it to their ensemble. Son cubano_sentence_80

The different rhythmic layers of the son style were distributed between their three voices, guitars and maracas. Son cubano_sentence_81

Cueto plucked the strings of his guitar instead of strumming them as it was usual, providing the patterns of the guajeo in the treble range, and the syncopated rhythms of the tumbao on the bass strings. Son cubano_sentence_82

The counterpoint was completed by the first guitar, played by Matamoros. Son cubano_sentence_83

They also occasionally included other instruments such as the bongo, and later they decided to expand the trio format to create a son conjunto by adding a piano, more guitars, tres and other voices. Son cubano_sentence_84

This project was joined by such important figures as Lorenzo Hierrezuelo, Francisco Repilado (Compay Segundo) and Beny Moré. Son cubano_sentence_85

In 1928, they travelled to New York with a recording contract by RCA Victor, and their first album caused such a great impact in the public that they soon became very famous at a national as well as an international level. Son cubano_sentence_86

The Trío Matamoros maintained great prominence until their official retirement in 1960. Son cubano_sentence_87

1930s Son cubano_section_7

By the late 1930s, the heyday of "Classic son" had largely ended. Son cubano_sentence_88

The sextetos and septetos that had enjoyed wide commercial popularity increasingly lost ground to jazz bands and amplified conjuntos. Son cubano_sentence_89

The very music that son had helped to create was now replacing son as the more popular and most requested music in Cuba. Son cubano_sentence_90

Original son conjuntos were faced with the options of either to disband and refocus on newer styles of Cuban music, or go back to their roots. Son cubano_sentence_91

1940s Son cubano_section_8

In the 1940s, Arsenio Rodríguez became the most influential player of son. Son cubano_sentence_92

He used improvised solos, toques, congas, extra trumpets, percussion and pianos, although all these elements had been used previously ("Papauba", "Para bailar son montuno"). Son cubano_sentence_93

Beny Moré (known as El Bárbaro del Ritmo, "The Master of Rhythm") further evolved the genre, adding guaracha, bolero and mambo influences. Son cubano_sentence_94

He was perhaps the greatest sonero ("Castellano que bueno baila usted", "Vertiente Camaguey"); another important sonero was Roberto Faz. Son cubano_sentence_95

By the late 1940s, son had lost its controversiality even among conservative Cubans which made it even less appealing to Cubans. Son cubano_sentence_96

A development that led to the decrease in popularity of the original son occurred in the 1940s. Son cubano_sentence_97

The son grew more sophisticated as it was adopted by conjuntos, which displaced sextetos and septetos. Son cubano_sentence_98

This led to big bands replacing the conjuntos, which managed to keep its flavor despite elaborate arrangements. Son cubano_sentence_99

During the 1940s and 1950s, the tourism boom in Cuba and the popularity of jazz and American music in general fostered the development of big bands and combos on the island. Son cubano_sentence_100

These bands consisted of a relatively small horn section, piano, double bass, a full array of Cuban percussion instruments and a vocalist fronting the ensemble. Son cubano_sentence_101

Their polished sound and "cosmopolitan" – read "commercial" – repertoire captivated both Cuban and foreign audiences. Son cubano_sentence_102

The commercialism of this new music movement led Cuban nightclub owners to recognize the revenue potential of hosting these types of bands to attract the growing flow of tourists. Son cubano_sentence_103

Additionally, as a result of the increasing popularity of big band music and in an effort to increase revenues, the recording industry focused on producing newer types of music and essentially removing son from their music repertoires. Son cubano_sentence_104

These developments were a big blow to the prospects of son and its popularity amongst even Cubans. Son cubano_sentence_105

With the arrival of cha-cha-chá and mambo in the United States, son also became extremely popular. Son cubano_sentence_106

After the Cuban Revolution separated Cuba from the U.S., son, mambo and rumba, along with other forms of Afro-Cuban music contributed to the development of salsa music, initially in New York. Son cubano_sentence_107

The mass popularization of son music led to an increased valorization of Afro-Cuban street culture and of the artists who created it. Son cubano_sentence_108

It also opened the door for other music genres with Afro-Cuban roots to become popular in Cuba and throughout the world. Son cubano_sentence_109

Current state of the son Son cubano_section_9

At present, the traditional-style son is seldom heard but has been assimilated into other genres and is present in them. Son cubano_sentence_110

Thus, other types of popular Cuban music and other Latin styles of music continue using the essential style of the son. Son cubano_sentence_111

Another important contribution of the son was the introduction of the drum to mainstream music. Son cubano_sentence_112

The increase in popularity of the son unveiled the potential of music with Afro-Cuban rhythms. Son cubano_sentence_113

This led to the development and mass distribution of newer types of Latin music. Son cubano_sentence_114

Additionally, genres of the later 1940s such as mambo manifest many characteristics derived from son. Son cubano_sentence_115

Charanga orchestras, also developed dance music heavily influenced by son. Son cubano_sentence_116

Perhaps the most significant contribution of son is its influence on present day Latin music. Son cubano_sentence_117

Son is specifically considered to be the foundation on which salsa was created. Son cubano_sentence_118

Although the "classic son" continues to be a very important musical foundation for all kinds of Latin music, it is no longer a popular music genre in Cuba. Son cubano_sentence_119

Younger generations of Cubans prefer the faster, dance-oriented son-derivatives such as timba or salsa. Son cubano_sentence_120

Older generations continue to preserve the son as one of the music genres they listen to, specifically in Oriente, where they tend to maintain more traditional versions of the son compared to Havana. Son cubano_sentence_121

The demise of the USSR (Cuba's major economic mainstay) in 1991 forced Cuba to encourage tourism to attract sorely needed foreign currency. Son cubano_sentence_122

Along with tourism, music became one of Cuba's major assets. Son cubano_sentence_123

The Buena Vista Social Club album and film as well as a stream of CDs triggered a worldwide Cuban music boom. Son cubano_sentence_124

In addition to the original Buena Vista Social Club album, there has been a stream of solo CDs by the members of the "Club". Son cubano_sentence_125

These individuals were subsequently offered individual contracts, ensuring a continued flow of CDs that include many original Cuban son classics. Son cubano_sentence_126

Thanks to the Buena Vista Social Club album, film, and follow-up solo albums there has been a revival of the traditional son and a rediscovery of older son performers who had often fallen by the wayside. Son cubano_sentence_127

Although most Cubans don’t see the value of the Buena Vista Social Club album and feel it doesn't represent present-day Cuba, it has introduced the Cuban son to younger generations of people from around the world who had never heard of son. Son cubano_sentence_128

It has also introduced foreign audiences to an important part of Cuban music history. Son cubano_sentence_129

Instrumentation Son cubano_section_10

The basic son ensemble of early 20th-century Havana consisted of guitar, tres, claves, bongos, marímbula or botija, and maracas. Son cubano_sentence_130

The tres plays the typical Cuban ostinato figure known as guajeo. Son cubano_sentence_131

The rhythmic pattern of the following generic guajeo is used in many different songs. Son cubano_sentence_132

Note that the first measure consists of all offbeats. Son cubano_sentence_133

The figure can begin in the first measure, or the second measure, depending upon the structure of the song. Son cubano_sentence_134

Later on, the double bass replaced the marímbula and bongos and a trumpet were added, giving rise to sextetos and septetos. Son cubano_sentence_135

See also Son cubano_section_11

Son cubano_unordered_list_0

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