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What is Cuban Son? History, Music & Dance

Last Updated on December 8, 2023 by Clement

What Is Cuban Son? History, Music & Dance

What Is Cuban Son? Cuban Son is more than a dance. It represent a cultural heritage to Cuba, and had a significant impact in other dance styles and development of other musical genre. Let’s deep dive into it: Cuban son origins, history, music, dance and influenced! Let’s get started !

Etymology of Cuban Son (also called Son Cubano)

The etymology of the term “Cuban Son” or “Son Cubano” comes from the Spanish word “son,” which means “sound.” The term “Cuban Son” refers to the style of music that originated in Cuba and is characterized by its blend of African, Spanish, and indigenous musical traditions. The term “Son Cubano” literally means “Cuban Sound” emphasizing the unique sound and rhythm of the Cuban Son style. The term has come to symbolize not only the musical genre but also the cultural heritage of Cuba and its people.

What is Cuban Son? Cuban Son Origins

What Is Son Cubano?

Cuban Son is a musical genre that originated in Cuba in the late 19th century and early 20th century. It is considered to be one of the most important musical styles in Cuba and has had a significant impact on the development of other Latin American musical styles. The origin of Cuban Son can be traced back to the blending of African, Spanish, and indigenous musical traditions in Cuba.

What Is Cuban Son?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQkAuJ3RmT8

What Is Cuban Son?

Origins Of Cuban Son

The origin of Son Cubano can be traced back to the rural regions of eastern Cuba, specifically the provinces of Oriente and Santiago de Cuba, in the late 19th century and early 20th century. It was in these regions that the fusion of African, Spanish, and indigenous musical traditions took place and gave birth to the unique sound and rhythm of Son Cubano.

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The music was played in rural cafes and bars, as well as at social gatherings, and soon became popular throughout Cuba and other Latin American countries. The birthplace of Son Cubano is considered to be the rural regions of eastern Cuba, and it is from these regions that the musical genre spread and evolved into the style that is recognized today.

Cuban Son is a blend of African, Spanish and indigenous musical and dance traditions in Cuba. Let’s See which one are they!

What was the other dance already in those region that influenced Cuban Son?

In the rural regions of eastern Cuba where Son Cubano originated, there were several other musical and dance styles that were popular at the time. Some of these dances and musical styles included:

  1. Danzón: Danzón was a popular dance style in Cuba during the late 19th century and early 20th century. It was a slow, elegant dance that was played with a brass orchestra and was popular in the upper-class social circles. The influence of Danzón on Son Cubano can be seen in the use of the son montuno rhythm, which was derived from the Danzón rhythm.

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  2. Rumba: Rumba is a musical and dance style that originated in Africa and was brought to Cuba by enslaved Africans. Rumba is characterized by its strong, rhythmic beat and was typically played with percussion instruments such as drums and maracas. The influence of Rumba on Son Cubano can be seen in the use of percussion and rhythm in Son Cubano music.

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  3. Guajira: Guajira is a type of rural folk music that was popular in the countryside of Cuba. Guajira is characterized by its upbeat tempo and the use of the tres, a type of guitar. The influence of Guajira on Son Cubano can be seen in the use of the tres in Son Cubano music and the incorporation of folk elements into the Son Cubano style.
  4. Bolero: Bolero is a Spanish musical and dance style that was popular in Cuba during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Bolero is characterized by its slow, romantic rhythm and the use of the guitar. The influence of Bolero on Son Cubano can be seen in the use of the guitar in Son Cubano music and the incorporation of Spanish elements into the Son Cubano style.

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These musical and dance styles all played a role in the development of Son Cubano and helped to shape the unique sound and rhythm of this musical genre. The fusion of these different styles and traditions gave birth to the Son Cubano style, which has since become an important part of Cuban culture and a major influence on other Latin American musical styles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8IJ8zTkd5w

What Is Cuban Son?

Cuban Son and The African Blend

The African musical traditions brought to Cuba by enslaved Africans played a significant role in the development of Cuban Son. African music was based on rhythm and percussion, and this style of music was easily integrated into the Cuban musical landscape. African musical instruments such as the bongo, the conga, and the claves were also introduced to Cuba through Rumba Dance and music, and these instruments became integral to the Cuban Son style.

Read More about What Is Rumba Cubana?

 

Cuban Son and The Spanish Blend

The Spanish musical traditions in Cuba were also influential in the development of Cuban Son. Spanish musical styles such as flamenco and the bolero brought elements such as the guitar and the use of lyrics to Cuban music. The Spanish also introduced the practice of singing, which became an important part of Cuban Son.

What Is Cuban Son?

What is Cuban Son

Cuban Son and The Indigenous Musical Traditions

The indigenous musical traditions in Cuba were also influential in the development of Cuban Son. Indigenous musical instruments such as the maracas and the tres (a type of guitar) were used in Cuban music, and the indigenous musical styles were blended with the African and Spanish musical traditions to create the Cuban Son style.

What was the Traditional folkloric dances in those region that influenced Son Cubano?

These dances were an important part of the African, Spanish, and indigenous cultural heritage of the region and played a significant role in shaping the Son Cubano style. Some of these folkloric dances that influenced Son Cubano include:

 

  1. Yambú: Yambú is a slow, Afro-Cuban folk dance that was popular in the rural regions of eastern Cuba. The dance is characterized by its slow, rhythmic steps and is typically performed by couples. The influence of Yambú on Son Cubano can be seen in the incorporation of African elements into the Son Cubano style, particularly in the use of rhythm and melody.

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  2. Guaguancó: Guaguancó is a fast, Afro-Cuban folk dance that was also popular in the rural regions of eastern Cuba. The dance is characterized by its fast, rhythmic steps and is typically performed by couples. The influence of Guaguancó on Son Cubano can be seen in the incorporation of African elements into the Son Cubano style, particularly in the use of rhythm and melody.

Other folkloric dances that influenced Son Cubano

Some other equally important folkloric dances that influenced Son Cubano include Rhumba, Changüí, Nengón, Kiribá, and Regina. These dances were a significant part of the cultural heritage of Cubans with ancestry traced back to the Bantu region of central Africa.

What Is Cuban Son?

Cuban Son and Orishas

In Cuba, Orishas is also a major aspect and part of many cuban’s life. They are gods or divinities in the Afro-Cuban religion known as Santería. They are associated with different natural forces and aspects of life, such as love, war, and agriculture. The worship of the Orishas is a significant part of Afro-Cuban culture and has had a profound influence on the music, dance, and other cultural expressions of Cuba.

Orishas Cuba

What are some of the different Orishas?

The different Orishas are associated with specific dance styles and rhythms, and their worship has helped to shape the sound and rhythm of Cuban Son.

Orishas Oya

For example, the Orisha Oya is associated with change, transformation, and death, and her dance is characterized by powerful, sweeping movements performed to a fast, energetic rhythm.

Orishas Chango

The Orisha Chango is associated with fire, lightning, and drumming, and his dance is characterized by energetic, rhythmic movements performed to a fast, pulsating rhythm.

Orishas Yemaya

The Orisha Yemayá is associated with the ocean, motherhood, and fertility, and her dance is characterized by slow, fluid movements performed to a slower, more meditative rhythm.

Incorporation of the different rhythmic of Orishas Musical tradition into Cuban Son Music

The influence of the Orishas on Cuban Son can be seen in the incorporation of African elements into the Son Cubano style, particularly in the use of rhythm and melody. The fusion of these different cultural elements gave birth to the Cuban Son style, which has since become an important part of Cuban culture and a major influence on other Latin American musical styles.

What is Cuban Son? First Recorded Cuban Son

Cuban Son began to take shape in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The first recorded Cuban Son was “El Son de la Negra,” which was recorded in 1879. This song was a fusion of African, Spanish, and indigenous musical styles and marked the beginning of the Cuban Son style.

What are the Traditional instruments used in Cuban Son Songs?

  1. Guitar: the Spanish-style guitar is a key instrument in Cuban Son.
  2. Tres: a Cuban string instrument with three sets of double strings.
  3. Bongos: a set of two small, handheld drums.
  4. Maracas: rattles made from gourds filled with seeds or beads.
  5. Claves: a percussion instrument consisting of two cylindrical hardwood sticks that are struck together to produce a sharp, crisp sound.
  6. Bass: the Cuban Tumbadora drum, also known as the Conga drum, is used to provide the rhythm in Cuban Son.
Clave Cubana
Clave Cubana

Musical Instruments Brought into Son Cubano by African

The instruments commonly used in Cuban Son (Bongos, Maracas, Claves, Bass) were originally used by African slaves for the Rumba, a dance that originated in West Africa. The Rumba was brought to Cuba by enslaved Africans, who adapted the music and dance to their new surroundings and merged it with elements from Spanish and indigenous music. This fusion gave birth to the Cuban Rumba, which would later evolve into the Cuban Son.

Rumba a way of Expression and preservation

For African slaves in Cuba, the Rumba was a means of cultural expression and preservation. The music and dance allowed them to maintain their African heritage and traditions, despite the oppression and dehumanization they faced in their new home.

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The Rumba was also a form of resistance and celebration, a way for the slaves to express their joys, sorrows, and hopes through music and dance. In a sense, the Rumba was a way for them to reclaim their humanity and assert their identity in the face of slavery and oppression. Today, the Rumba and its descendants, such as the Cuban Son, remain an important part of Cuban culture and serve as a symbol of the country’s Afro-Cuban heritage.

What Is Cuban Son?

10 Most Famous Cuban Son Songs (Include Youtube Links)

  1. “El Cuarto de Tula” by Buena Vista Social Club (1997)

  2. “El Manisero” Willy Chirino

  3. El Cuarto De Tula – Buena Vista Social Club
  4. “Dos Gardenias” by Ibrahim Ferrer (1999)

  5. “El Carretero” by Buena Vista Social Club (1997)

  6. “Toda una Vida” Leoni Torres
  7. “De Camino a la Vereda” by Ibrahim Ferrer (1999)

  8. “Son de la Loma” by Orquesta Aragón (1953)

  9. Gueita Caimán (son montuno) – carlos barberia

  10.  “Caballo Viejo” Kiki Valera

4 Best Cuban Son Dance Videos

Some of our Favourite video from an amazing Son Cubano Dancer, and also our Maestro and dance teacher!

Son Cubain Traditionnel | Son Cubano Tradicional

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XryZsMz8pI&t=1s

What Is Cuban Son Dance?

Son Cubano Dance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwDuMEMto9A&t=3s

What Is Cuban Son?

Suelta Y Son Cubano

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibTvZLmrvC0&t=15s

What Is Cuban Son?

El Son Cubano Dance | Cuban Son Dance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQkAuJ3RmT8

What Is Cuban Son?

What are the different styles of Cuban Son?

Cuban son is a genre of Cuban music that has several sub-genres or hyponyms, including:

  1. Son Montuno: a popular and upbeat style of Cuban son characterized by its use of brass instruments and improvisational vocals.
  2. Guaracha: a fast-paced and lively style of Cuban son that often includes humorous lyrics and dance-friendly rhythms.
  3. Son Cubano: a style of Cuban son that features intricate rhythms, poetic lyrics, and a fusion of African and Spanish musical elements.
  4. Bolero-son: a style of Cuban son that combines the slow and romantic Bolero rhythm with the upbeat son style.
  5. Cha-cha-chá: a style of Cuban son that is characterized by its syncopated rhythm and upbeat tempo, often used in Latin ballroom dancing.

These are some of the well-known hyponyms of Cuban son, a genre that has influenced and continues to influence various musical styles around the world

Cuban Son became popular and spread to other Latin American Countries

Cuban Son soon became popular in Cuba and spread to other Latin American countries such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. The popularity of Cuban Son was also due to the fact that it was played in the cafes and bars of Havana, where it became the soundtrack for social gatherings.

Cuban Son is a Genre that is considered belonging to Latin American Music, as well as the following:

  1. Latin music
  2. Caribbean music
  3. Afro-Cuban music
  4. Folk music
  5. World music

And had a significant impact on the development of other Latin dance styles of Music and dance

Cuban Son has had a significant impact on the development of other Latin American musical styles. For example, the Cuban Son style influenced the development of the salsa style in Puerto Rico, and the Cuban Son style is also evident in the music of other Latin American countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Cuban Son influenced greatly Rueda de Casino Dance Style

Rueda de Casino is a style of salsa dancing that originated in Cuba in the 1950s and is characterized by its circular dance formation and synchronized movements. Rueda de Casino is often performed to the sounds of Son Cubano and other salsa music and is widely popular in Latin America and around the world. The influence of Son Cubano on Rueda de Casino can be seen in the rhythmic and melodic elements of the music, as well as the dance style’s roots in Cuban popular culture.

Dance, Movement and travel

Son Cubano Dance , as well as Danzon, is characterised by a lot of desplazamiento. The Cuban Son Dancers travel a lot using the space, and using geometrical figures. Those Travelling movements are often found in a Rueda de Casino, where dancers keep rotating and changing partner. It gives a stronger aspect of movement in a Rueda de Casino and this is what makes a Rueda de Casino so special.

Example of a Rueda de Casino dance we had in Habana

And another Rueda De Casino

Read more about Rueda de Casino: What is Salsa Rueda? Best Salsa Dance Shoes

What are the other associated terms to Cuban Son?

  1. Salsa: a popular style of Latin dance music that has its roots in Cuban son and other Afro-Cuban musical styles. Read more about Salsa Dance Moves For Beginners
  2. Mambo: a fast-paced and rhythmically complex style of Latin dance music that was influenced by Cuban son and other Afro-Cuban musical styles.
  3. Rumba: a sensual and rhythmic style of Latin dance music that has its roots in Afro-Cuban music, including Cuban son.
  4. Afro-Cuban Jazz: a fusion of Cuban son, jazz, and other Afro-Cuban musical styles that emerged in the mid-20th century.

Read more about Latino Jazz Here

What Dance Shoes are the best to dance Cuban Son?

Mens dance shoes Australia

Like any sports or dance, You would need some special Latin dance shoes to dance Cuban Son. They will help you spin better, while give you extra support to protect your body from any injuries.

Son Cubano Dance Shoes for Mens

For men, we would recommend you to check Our men’s dance shoes

Son Cubano Dance Shoes For Women

For women’s dance shoes, we would recommend any ballroom dance shoes or any latin Shoes

You could also use any Salsa Shoes to Dance Son Cubano. And use the same shoes to go salsa dancing & Bachata dancing in latin dancing events.

Read more about Salsa Shoes here:

Dance Shoes For Salsa | Best Guide

Salsa Dance Shoes for Narrow Feet

 

What Is Cuban Son?

One more Cuban Salsa Video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3hPocZBi0g

What Is Cuban Son?

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