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For other uses, see Tahona (disambiguation). Tahona_sentence_0


Stylistic originsTahona_header_cell_0_1_0 18th century Afro-Haitian music and early tumbas francesasTahona_cell_0_1_1
Cultural originsTahona_header_cell_0_2_0 Early 19th century in Oriente, CubaTahona_cell_0_2_1
Typical instrumentsTahona_header_cell_0_3_0 Tahona drums, tumbadoras, tambora, bimba, tragaleguas, hierros, chachá or maruga, claves, marímbulaTahona_cell_0_3_1
Regional scenesTahona_header_cell_0_4_0

Tahona, alternatively spelled tajona due to its pronunciation or taona, is a secular style of Afro-Cuban music developed in the 19th century in Santiago de Cuba after the arrival of Haitian slaves following the Haitian Revolution. Tahona_sentence_1

It is named after the ensembles and the drums played by them. Tahona_sentence_2

It is considered one of the oldest styles within the rumba complex, and its performance became rare by the 20th century. Tahona_sentence_3

History Tahona_section_0

The word "tahona" initially described a type of single-headed hand drum with a body made of a wooden barrel and a goatskin head, larger than the tumbadora (conga drum). Tahona_sentence_4

The ensembles, and ultimately the music itself, also adopted the term tahona. Tahona_sentence_5

As a genre, tahona is considered a style of Cuban rumba, and together with yambú it is one of the oldest. Tahona_sentence_6

However, it differs from the canonical rumba styles in the fact that it developed in the eastern part of Cuba, the Oriente Province, due to the immigration of Haitian slaves following the Haitian Revolution of the 1790s. Tahona_sentence_7

Thus, tahona exhibits similarities to tumba francesa (another Afro-Cuban style imported by Haitians) and conga (a style of street music developed in Santiago de Cuba). Tahona_sentence_8

Initially, tahonas were holiday dances performed by the slaves and their descendants, later turning into "rural congas" (Afro-Cuban parades) performed during carnival celebrations. Tahona_sentence_9

The instrumentation of these parades in the 1860s revolved around two tahonas often called huecos ("hollow"), which are tuned in high and low registers, and two tamboras (a bass drum also found in tumba francesa). Tahona_sentence_10

The different tahona drums are called repique (drumroll) and fondo (background). Tahona_sentence_11

When the tahona ensembles participated in carnival parades they added one or two tumbadoras, hierros (iron idiophones), trumpet and saxophone. Tahona_sentence_12

According to Harold Courlander, in Matanzas, tahonas were performed on two tumbadoras, claves and marímbula. Tahona_sentence_13

According to Fernando Ortiz, tahona ensembles emerged as a way of making tumbas francesas "portable", since the drums in tumba francesas were to large to be carried in street parades. Tahona_sentence_14

He described tahona ensembles as containing three tahonas (one repique and two fondos), one tambora, one tragaleguas (another drum), a hierro, and a guamo (an aerophone made of a sea snail). Tahona_sentence_15

Chachás (rattles) were also added as in tumba francesa. Tahona_sentence_16

An additional bass drum called bimba, which is smaller but deeper than the tambora, was also played by tahona ensembles. Tahona_sentence_17

Tahona spread across Oriente to Alto Songo, La Maya and Ti Arriba. Tahona_sentence_18

It was brought to Havana by a percussion ensemble of ñáñigos (Efik descendants in Abakuá societies) named "La Tajona". Tahona_sentence_19

In the Havana neighborhood of Carraguao, the tahona became commonly performed on many festivities. Tahona_sentence_20

Its popularity among bakers led many to believe that it was named after the Spanish tahona, i.e. bakery. Tahona_sentence_21

Style Tahona_section_1

Like tumba francesa and rumba, tahona performances are percussion-driven and feature call and response singing between a solo singer and a chorus. Tahona_sentence_22

Lyrics are typically about everyday life. Tahona_sentence_23

There are different toques or types of tahona performances with distinct dances. Tahona_sentence_24

Two toques (called pasos, steps) have survived: Tahona_sentence_25


  • Paso de camino ("walking step"), which is slow.Tahona_item_0_0
  • Paso de tahona ("tahona step"), which is faster. It is associated with three choreographies: hechacorral, bastones and cinta. The latter is also a toque found in tumba francesa. In fact, it was common for tahonas to sometimes dance el baile francés, i.e. the tumba francesa dance.Tahona_item_0_1

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahona.