In Cuba, you can listen to and feel the music in virtually every corner.

Undeniably, it’s something that it’s part of a Cuban’s life. This is the first article I write about Cuba and I immediately felt that urge to understand the history of something that is so connected to a people, and something which represents their way of living and being. It’s a real passion, one that you can feel in the air, and it’s almost impossible to be insensitive to it.

It was in 1492 that Cristopher Columbus reached Cuba and announced what he called “the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen”. However, the colonization process only began some years after, conducted by Spain and led by Diego Velázquez.

During that process, most natives were killed and in 1526 the Spanish settlers started to bring African slaves to the island.

This blend between Spanish and African influences is at the origin of Cuban music.

Thus, it was born from the Spanish folk music and the African rhythms brought by those thousands of slaves.

The main instruments associated with Cuban music are the Spanish guitars and the African drums, whereas the South American claves and the maracas were added later on.

All this merge of sounds gave birth to several genres:

  • Son: it derived from the danzón and rumba genres. It’s the most important one.
  • Canción cubana: a slow rhythm created by a Cuban;
  • Cha-cha-cha: it’s a variation of the mambo and its name derives from the sound caused by dancers when they knock the floor three times in a row in order to follow the rhythm;
  • Conga: the influence of the African slaves of the Belgian Congo, who were shipped to Cuba;
  • Danzón: the influence of the settlers of Haiti who ran away to Cuba;
  • Cuban jazz: Cuban music that started to be played in New Orleans in the 20s;
  • Mambo: it derives from the danzón, adding bass to it, which is a European influence;
  • Afro-Cuban music: a clear influence of the African Slaves;
  • Rumba: the influence of Spanish and Congolese styles;
  • Timba: a sound burst with several influences such as funk or rap, and one where you have improvisation.

In Havana, I visited Casa de la musica, an excellent spot where you can listen and dance to music just like a true Cuban. I recommend it.

No matter what the genre is, there’s music everywhere in this island. Those who are going to visit it should let themselves go amidst these warm rhythms… and fall in love with Cuba.

I adored the country and I fell in love!