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 the Iyesá), the Arará, the Congo, and the Carabalí (generically used to identify the Ibibio slaves).

The Cabildos de Nación Lucumí or Yoruba were where the music and dance of the Yorubas and their descendants were performed. These were exclusive societies known simply as Cabildos, and they were very abundant in the main urban centers of central-western Cuba. They were also in the Casas de Santo, or houses of the saints, or Ilé-ocha even today.

Cuban Santería is the most popular cult among the Cuban population and blends both traditional Yoruban religion (Lukumi) and Catholicism. Composed of two liturgical systems: the Regla Ocha (Rule of the Orisha) and the Oráculo de Ifá. This Ocha-Ifá religious complex contains both the religious and festive practices. These take place in the Casas de Santo and Cabilidos.

In the case of religious festivities, the instrumental ensemble formats are dictated by tradition and what is “correct” for this particular type of celebration. The sacred drums known by as batás are the dominate instrument in the ritual hierarchy.

Essentials of Cuban Hand Percussion

Cuban Masters Series - Cuban Tres