Types of Cuban Rhythms: Cuban Son

The Cuban Son is a singing and dancing Cuban style which started at the end of the 19th Century in Cuba. It is believed that it originated in the Oriental part of the island. There are many theories about its origin but a lot of people think that it was born from “danzón”, an Afro-cuban adaptation of the European ballroom dances.

At the beginning it was three people: Claves (wooden instrument), maracas and a guitar. Slowly, more instruments were added: “tres” (“Three” a 3 cord guitar), two vocalists, a guiro and a bass. In the 1930s, many groups added trumpets too, making it to groups of seven.

The Son started to be known internationally thanks to the “Septeto Nacional”. One the the most famous songs was “El Manicero” (1928). However, the rest of the contemporary Cuban groups have evolved from the traditional Son. The most important group of the 20th Century are “Los Van Van”. They added a trombone, more drums and a synthesiser for the voice, developing the “songo”. There were also groups like Irakere who took a jazz path.

The structure of the Son songs consist on the repetition of a chorus of four times (montuno) sang by a soloist. Next, there is another chorus in answer to the “montuno”. It is similar and probably has the African origin, same as “pregón”. All salsa songs are focused around the Cuban clave, and the song is no less.

It is now a root rhythm of today’s salsa and the base to any salsa song.

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