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Cuban Masters Piano – Son-Montuno

In this video, Emilio Morales explains son montuno for pianists.

Son Montuno

The examples played in the ensembles do not have a traditional son montuno, but one can feel its strong presence in all Cuban music. The following example is a standard piano montuno played in the son. It goes like this: (plays the piano)

The chorus for this montuno would be: (plays piano and sings)

“Look, Catalina, I’ll buy you a guayo and, the yucca is going spoiled…”

We start a tumbao on the tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords. The relationship between the piano, bass, and percussion is very important, since this rhythm section is the support of everything else. The first thing the pianist has to do is listen to what the bass is doing, for example: (plays the piano).

This part may vary, but that is the basic pattern, and the piano would go like this: (plays piano).

This montuno has several variations, for instance: (plays the piano)… with the same bass (plays the piano) and just like that one, there are tons of combinations.

The most important things to keep in mind when creating a montuno are the rhythmic and melodic possibilities that one can do, depending upon one's technical and musical development.

On the other hand, it is necessary to think and listen in a collective way when playing in an ensemble. The bass needs to hear the piano; the piano needs to hear the bass; the piano and bass need to hear the percussion. It’s a collaboration of elements that have to be very close together, very solid.


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