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Cuban Son

In: Social Issues

Submitted By johnpgibson20
Words 598
Pages 3
John Gibson
Latin Rhythms and Dance
Cuban Son The Cuban Son, both a dancing and singing style, combines both African and Cuban elements and serves as the foundation for salsa music today. The term ‘Son’ literally means sound and traces its roots back to the 16th century. However, the more contemporary version of the Son did not appear until the late 19th century in Cuba. Historically, the Son played an important role in detailing different news events from the countryside, so its societal function was undoubtedly significant. Although the modern form of the Cuban Son dates back to the mid-19th century, it was not until the early 20th century when the Son was enthusiastically accepted by Cuban society. Prior to this acceptance, the “Danzon” was the most popular type of dance in Cuba and could be found virtually everywhere in Cuba, widely accepted by all social classes. However, the appearance of the Son in Cuba during the early 1900’s quickly overtook the Danzon as the most popular national music. And although the Son had many of the same elements present in the Danzon, it varied distinctly in form and instruments. Nonetheless, the Son’s popularity was clearly defined by the formation and success of the Sexteto Habanero, the many prizes they received, their trips abroad, their recordings, their famous Sons and their participation in many popular films.
The Son orchestra was initially composed of only claves, maracas, and guitar but later expanded to include tres and bongos. However, the call-and-response pattern typical of the Cuban son, and now salsa, has remained throughout the dance’s existence. The call pattern is characterized by one person playing the claves, and the response is typically a combination of the other aforementioned instruments. Interestingly, these instruments, especially when used in combination, exposed the vivacious, deep sentiments of the Africans during their journey to Cuba. Shortly before the Cuban Son emerged, the African slaves had previously been emancipated from the French in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Among the most essential of the aforementioned instruments used in the Cuban Son are the claves. Essentially, the claves are a pair of wooden sticks that produces a metallic sound when struck together. Also they play a key role in the direction of the dancers’ footsteps. Besides the claves, the bongos also play an important part in the dance. The bongos are pressed together between the knees and consequently struck with the tips of the fingers.
The form of the Son is not very complex. The chorus, also known as el estibio, consists of the repetition of four bars and a chorus sung in response to a soloist. In its most basic form, it is made up of a largo in which the ‘call’ is made and the ‘response’ of the percussion and voices, known as the montuno. This same pattern is very similar to the ‘pregon’ pattern of African origin.
The musical movement of the Son and its influence on modern day Latin dance and salsa is undeniable. The creativity employed during the dance’s formation can easily be seen through its ability to produce its own instruments, interpreters, and even original choreography. Without the Cuban Son, the salsa would not be what it is today.
References
1. “The Cuban Son.” http://latino.si.edu/virtualgallery/Sabor/SalsaResearchResources/SonClaveLounge/The%20Cuban%20Son-Claves.htm 2. “Son- The Heart of Cuban Music.” ”http://www.justsalsa.com/salsa/music/son/ 3. “History of Cuban Music.” http://www.boogalu.com/features/history-cuban-music 4. “History of Popular Cuban Music”
http://www.danzon.com/eng/history/cuban-music.htm…...

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