Music From Cuba

Interested in learning about the music of Cuba? Want to know about the different types of music played in Cuba? Our guide to music in Cuba gives you the information & facts you’ll find interesting.

Cuba is not a country that is instinctively associated with classical music. Nonetheless, Cuba has produced a significant number of composers of classical music since the 19th century and although their music is relatively unknown outside of Cuba, the classical music of these composers is still very much celebrated inside Cuba. Much of the actual aesthetic style of Classical music from Cuba differs little from the classical music we might find elsewhere, although some Cuban composers have incorporated themes and styles into their music that is reflective of the history and culture of Cuba.

African Influence

A significant proportion of the population of Cuba are of African origins who are the descendents of slaves that were brought over to work on the plantations of Spanish masters. The music of Cuba reflects both African and Spanish influences, with the African element of Cuban music being firmly embedded in the beats and percussion of the music while the strings reflect the Spanish heritage of Cuba.

Folk Music

The national folk music of Cuba is known as Son. Son music originated in Cuba during the 19th century and is still very popular today.  The typical set up for a son music performance in Cuba consists of five elements. Firstly, there are two singers that accompany this genre of music in Cuba, and usually at least one of them will be tapping some sticks to the beat of the music. Son music in Cuba relies heavily on string instruments and a Son band is considered incomplete unless it possesses a banjo and a bass guitar in addition to the lead rhythm.

Influence of Cuban Music

The basic elements of Cuban folk music have been drawn upon and developed by musicians in other countries and developed into musical genres which are virtually international household names. Musicians in America seized on the basic format of Cuban son music, added some brass and wind instruments so as to make it appealing on a large scale and carry resonance on a large stage, and from this musical styles such as the Mambo, Rumba and Chachacha came into being.

Salsa Music and Cuba

Salsa music was actually developed in New York in the 1960’s. Although Salsa music wasn’t invented in Cuba, it was developed by musicians from Cuba who happened to be in exile in the United States at the time, so credit for the development of this music, at least partly, must belong to Cuba.