Ethnomusicology

Instruments

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 that of establishing a medium between the believers of Santería and the God, or Orishas, that they beckon. The batá drums are of African (currently the territory of Nigeria) origin. Additionally, these drums are connected to the worship of the Orishas professed by the Yoruba that still inhabit that land today.
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 two small drums, of different sizes, held together by a strap or a piece of wood or metal that provides separation among their bodies or sound boxes. Each drum possesses a single membrane, or skin, and each one of these skins is tuned to a different pitch. The current system of tension (for tuning the skins) consists of metal rings and screws that form the shapes of hook and nuts. The drums are played together, never separate.
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 instrument simply strike one stick against the other. The most reliable source of information on the origin of the claves is attributed to Fernando Ortiz and his work, “La clave xilofónica de la música cubana” (”The Xylophone-style Clave of Cuban Music,” which identifies the origin of the claves to the docks where ships were repaired and constructed in Havana during the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Cuban laud is a 12 string instrument originally from the Arabic ood, although it is much changed since then and bears little resemblance today. The main use of the instrument historically was playing punto guajiro music which was traditionally played in the Western provinces and usually in 3/4 or 6/8 time.
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 strengthens the melody line a 3rd or a 6th above with rhythmic fills in between.
Son and Son Montuno are basically the same thing. The main difference is that the Son does not have two distinct sections. Like most modern music, there are many exceptions and sometimes there is no clear defining style. There are still rules and standard patterns though. If you learn these basic standard patterns that the Cuban tres plays, you will be able to mix up the styles and create something unique. Just remember, on the Cuban tres, like any instrument, make sure you know and understand the rules before you break them! That means listen to a lot of Cuban music, especially music that features the Cuban tres.

Cuban Culture

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, “Salsa”. There are several core steps that are danced the same all over the world, although some variations exist. On top of that, there are localized steps that many times mock popular culture icons.
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 was in its development. Four major influences are the musical culture of the Yoruba (including theIyesá), the Arará, the Congo, and the Carabalí (generically used to identify the Ibibio slaves).

Cuban Music Styles

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 ethnomusicology point if view is simple, but like most academic answers, it leaves more questions and sometimes contradicts popular definitions.
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 the Marimbula and the Guayo was replaced by the Güiro and or the Maracas. Also, it is the first time that clave as we know play it is really present