Ethnomusicology

Ethnomusicology

Pages about Cuban Ethnomusicology

Cuba has a unique musical and cultural foundation. With it’s blend of African and European culture, music is a fusion of the rhythmic concepts of Africa and the harmonic concepts of Europe.

Ethnomusicology is the study of music in its cultural context and inside these pages you will discover the world of Cuban music and instruments. Unlike the usual information you may find elsewhere, these pages will emphasize both the cultural and practical. Many myths and misinformation will be discussed as well as examples and practical usage of Cuban musical instruments, Cuban musical styles and Cuban cultural issues that affect Cuban Music.

Cuban Culture

Culture affects the music and vice versa. On these pages we explore the unique and not so unique aspects of Cuban culture and how they affect the music and dance of Cuba.
Casino Rueda

Casino Rueda

By Jon Griffin Casino Rueda (Rueda de Casino) is a group dance and features two or more couples who exchange partners based on someone calling the turns. Rueda means wheel in Spanish and Casino is the term in Cuba for what we call in the US, “S...
Cuban Santería

Cuban Santería

The term Afrocuban-Music  includes music of ritual, festive-religious as well as secular events. These are directly tied to the musical cultures of Africa. These African musical traditions were all included in one form or another when Cuban music w...

Olavo Alen Rodriguez On Cuban Santeria

Santería By Olavo Alén Rodríguez © 2008-2009 Jon Griffin   The Yoruba slaves, brought to Cuba during the latter end of the 18th century, recreated many forms of life, traditions and customs in this part of the New World just as they had ...
Cuban Instruments

Cuban Instruments

Cuba is home to many unique instruments, and these pages will explore them. You will learn about not only the instruments, but also the context in which they are used and musical examples.

Bata Drums - The Sacred Drums of Cuba

By Olavo Alen Rodriguez and Jon Griffin The batá drums are the sacred instruments of Cuban Santería. They are made up of three hourglass-shaped drums of different sizes that perform specific musical functions. Their main religious function is th...
Bongos – The Most Cuban Instrument

Bongos – The Most Cuban Instrument

Cuban Bongo By Olavo Alén Rodríguez © 2009 Jon Griffin This Cuban musical instrument was born in the context of the complex musical styles that pertain to the Son, in the mountainous regions of the eastern extreme of the country. It consists of...
Claves - The Composers Best Friend in Cuban Music

Claves - The Composers Best Friend in Cuban Music

By Jon Griffin  and Olavo Alen Rodriguez The claves are a musical instrument of Cuban origin and are classified as a member of percussion family. The instrument is comprised of two separate wooden sticks that are cylindrical in shape. To play the i...
Cuban Laud - The 12 String Guitar From Cuba

Cuban Laud - The 12 String Guitar From Cuba

The Cuban laud is a 12 string instrument originally from the Arabic ood, although it is much changed since than and bears little resemblance today. The main use of the instrument historically was playing punto guajiro  music which was traditionally p...
Cuban Tres - Tres Cubano (The 3 String Cuban Guitar)

Cuban Tres - Tres Cubano (The 3 String Cuban Guitar)

By Jon Griffin The first thing to understand about the Cuban tres is that it is a rhythm instrument. Even though it looks like a guitar, the actual playing of it is rhythmic with melodic lines. Chords are seldom “strummed”, and in many styles the...
Cuban Tres Examples - Son Montuno

Cuban Tres Examples - Son Montuno

By Jon Griffin Here are some more examples of patterns and parts the Cuban tres would play. Son & Son Montuno Son and Son Montuno are basically the same thing. The main difference is that the Son does not have two distinct sections. Like...
Marimbula - The Cuban Thumb Piano

Marimbula - The Cuban Thumb Piano

By Jon Griffin The Marimbula belongs to sansa family of that originated from the Bantu cultures of sub-Saharan Africa. The sansa instruments create sound by plucking or striking the metal fingers. Sansas also include the Kalimba or African thumb piano....

Cuban Music Styles

Cuba has many musical sub-styles, but only a few major genres. These include, Afro-Cuban music, rumba, danzon, the son complex and punto. In these pages we explore many of these sub-styles like nengón, cha-cha-chá, guaguanco, changüi and more. The ...
About the nueva trova

About the nueva trova

By Jose Antonio Rodriguez Translation © 1999 Jon Griffin The nueva trova is a phenomenon born in the second half of the 1960's in Cuba. It is the continuation of previous movements called trovadorezcos, traditional trova and feeling (filín). T...
Changüi

Changüi

By Jon Griffin Changüi was born in Guantanamo Province, Cuba (specifically the Baracoa area) from the style called Nengon . There are some conflicting answers you will receive when you ask the question, "What is Changüi"? The answer from an ...
Cuban Son Complex

Cuban Son Complex

Son is a generic term for the musical family of country music originating in Oriente de Cuba (Eastern Cuba), as well as a style within the family itself. Traditionally, Son was played with an ensemble similar to a Changüi , but the Contra Bass replaced t...
Kiriba

Kiriba

By Jon Griffin Kiriba is a style of Son  from a different area of Cuba. It mostly originated in the Baracoa area, which is also where the Changüi  was created. In fact where the fusion of Kiriba and Nengon  takes place is where Changüi is invented...
Nengon

Nengon

  By Jon Griffin Nengon was the precursor to both Son  and Changüi . It evolved into Son in Santiago de Cuba and Changüi (when it fused with Kiriba ) in Guantanamo province. Nengon was traditionally played with a Tingotalango or Tu...
Punto Guajiro

Punto Guajiro

By Jon Griffin Punto Guajiro (also called Punto Cubano) is the country music from the Western and Central provinces of Cuba. This style began to become popular around the end of the 18th century, mainly as a social event. Remember that in the ...
The Nueva Trova In Cuba

The Nueva Trova In Cuba

By Olavo Alén Rodríguez © 2007 Jon Griffin During the 19th century different forms for presenting songs appeared in Cuba, all of which were marked with elements that offered national pride. Among them the Cuban lyrical songs were emphasized: ha...
Timba

Timba

By Olavo Alén Rodríguez © 2007 Jon Griffin NG La Banda In 1993, the Cuban musician José Luis Cortés travelled with his group NG La Banda through a tour of Japan. At that time this important musician tried to achieve a different sound from what...

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