The Full Wiki

Cuban folk music: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cuban folk music is very diverse and has been influenced by Spanish people, slaves from Africa and the remaining indigenous population of the Caribbean.


Classification of genres

The Cuban folk music is the traditional music that persisted up to the first decades of 20th-century. Many of this genres entered the popular music sphere.

The Cuban folk music is classified in complejos by musicologists: [1]

One of the main styles used is the son. The son consists of many repeating sections and features much improvisation. It combines the Spanish elements of guitar with African rhythms as well as percussion.[2]
  • Complejo de la canción. Bolero, filin.
  • Complejo del punto, with its variants punto libre and punto fijo.

All the genres are performed by people of different ethnicities, afrocubans, mulatos, trigueños and whites.


Many of the instruments played in the Cuban folk music tradition are still played in modern Cuban folk music. Instruments such as the Congas, Cajon and the bata drums were brought to Cuba by slaves from Africa. As well as the marimbula this is related to the mbira from Africa.

Private clubs

We now turn the focus to Havana. By the 1940s many of the cities had grown greatly. There were many members-only clubs, such as cigar-rolling clubs, or baseball clubs, as well as music clubs. Entrance to these clubs was based on ethnicity. One such club was the Buena Vista Social Club. People would go there to dance and sing and listen to traditional Cuban folk music.



Ibrahim Ferrer

Two well known artists that played at the original Buena Vista Social Club were Ibrahim Ferrer and Ruben Gonzalez. Ferrer was born at a dance. His mother died when he was twelve. After his mother died he was forced to drop out of school and make a living. He made a band with his cousin called "Jovenes del Son" which helped to make ends meet. In the 1940s he sang at the Buena Vista Social Club. When the club closed and his Bolero singing went out of style he was forced to shine shoes for a living. When Ferrer was found for the Buena Vista Social Club documentary he was shining shoes in the streets of Havana. He was seventy years old. The Buena Vista Social Club documentary brought him fame. After the film was released he released his first solo album in 1999 and then in 2000 he was nominated for a Latin Grammy for best new artist at the age of seventy-two.

Ruben Gonzalez

Ruben Gonzales was a piano player at the club. He began playing piano at seven years old. He studied piano all through school. When he got out of school he didn’t want to become a concert pianist because he was quite fond of the traditional Cuban music, “particularly son, a guitar-led fusion of African percussion and Hispanic harmonies that underpins most modern Latin American dance forms.” After he graduated, at age fifteen, he played with many, many people and bands. He has been acknowledged as one of the leading pioneers of Cha-cha-cha and the Mambo in the early 1960s. In the late 1960s he was in an organized band called “Orquesta de Enrique Jorrín” for twenty-five years, when the band's conductor died. Gonzalez took over and conducted for two years and then he retired in the 1980s. After he retired he released a few solo albums with the help of Ry Cooder and took part in the documentary The Buena Vista Social Club.

Cuban folk music traditions are still alive today, thanks in part to the Buena Vista Social Club documentary. Many of the men and women that were in the film did not get recognition for their traditional music until right before their deaths. When you listen to this music you can hear a strong sense of nationalism. There are no political songs, they are all about love affairs of the heart as well as disappointment and infidelity. Cuban folk music had many different influences, such as jazz and salsa as well as West-African Afro-Beat, and Spanish Nuevo-Flamenco. It also has developed new styles such as the Mambo and Cha-cha-cha. (que rico el cha cha cha....)


  1. ^ Orovio, Helio. (1981). Diccionario de la Música Cubana.
  2. ^ Sublette, Ned 2004. Cuba and its music: from the first drums to the mambo. Chicago.
  • Carpentier, Alejo 2001 [1945]. Music in Cuba. Minniapolis MN. Cuban music up to 1940.
  • Lemonick, Michael D.; Michael, D.; Dorfman, Andrea. "Before Columbus." Time Magazine. October 10, 1998 Vol. 152 Issue 16.
  • White, Timothy. "String of Pearls: Cuba’s Music Revolution." Billboard. February 19, 2000.
  • Chanan, Michael. "Play it Again, or Old-Time Cuban Music on the Screen." New Left Review. No. 238. Nov/Dec 1999.
  • Brozensky, Jennifer; Cabrera, Esperanza; Collins, Kristi. "Cuba and its Music." Online document. Accessed March 15, 2007.
  • Cuba and its Music Prepared by Jennifer Brozensky, Esperanza Cabrera, Kristi Collins
  • Music of Cuba. Wikipedia. Online document. Accessed March 15, 2007.
  • Changui. Wikipedia. Online document. Accessed March 16, 2007.
  • Christopher Columbus. Wikipedia. Online document. Accessed March 16, 2007.
  • Milward, John. "The Latin Invasion." Online document. Accessed April 1, 2007
  • Ruben Gonzalez obituary. Online document. Accessed April 4, 2007.
  • Cooder, Ry. "Buena Vista Social Club." September 16, 1997.
  • Ferrer, Ibrehim. "Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrehim Ferrer." June 8, 1999.
  • Gonzalez, Ruben. "Introducing…Ruben Gonzalez." September 16, 1997.
  • Leymarie, Isabelle. Cuban Fire: The Story of Salsa and Latin Jazz. London: New York Continuum, 2002.
  • Manuel, Peter Lamarche. Essays on Cuban Music: North American and Cuban Perspectives. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America. 1991.
  • Brock, Lisa. Between Race and Empire: African-Americans and Cubans before the Cuban Revolution. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA. 1998.

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address